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Oct 30 2017

Late Truck Racer Review

I’m still on with getting through my PS3 backlog, and having caught the racing bug, decided to give Truck Racer a go. This is a fantastic rally racing game, including trucks that just want to swing their ass out at every corner.

Just because it isn’t fast cars, doesn’t mean that racing trucks is any less fun. Plenty of challenge in drifting a 5-tonne vehicle at top speed through the smallest of gaps between other trucks that are zigzagging like crazy.

Looking at the controls screen, it shows it to be as simple as just needing to use acceleration, brake, reverse, boost and steer. No need for buttons to activate windscreen wipers, lights etc. I would have not previously considered lorry racing to be fun, using vehicles that were never originally purposed for racing. The great thing is that it’s not as complicated to drive, such as in Euro Truck Simulator 2, having first the controller set for driving controls, then having to additionally map out the whole keyboard for every function a lorry has, plus the strictness and charges of being in the wrong lane thankfully don’t exist in this game, otherwise I would have racked up a string of fines I’d be paying off well into my 90’s.

The courses look fantastic, with multiple layouts that change with different turnoffs between each race. Driving the courses feels great and realistic; I like the emphasis on having to brake, to ensure smoothly passing around obstacles and tight turns.

There are the regular racing game modes of championship, single race and online race. Single race allows you to race against local players and AI on any course that you choose. Online racing seems to be pretty dead, which is understandable for an old PS3 game, though I thought that as it had been on Playstation Plus recently, that would have stoked some fresh interest in the game. I did manage to join a few online games after half a day of trying, plus then win, now a pro after having completed championship mode, so you shouldn’t struggle against others if you spend a few hours playing the game.

Championship involves racing in tournaments, each tournament ranging in difficulty containing a number of race tracks. The better your position is when finishing these races, the more points you will acquire to go towards completing the current tournament and unlocking the next one. It’s not too hard to just get 1st in all races, and achieve maximum points in the tournaments, it’s just a matter of practise and upgrading your vehicles. The most difficult I found were the timed laps, which did require you to learn how to hug each corner just right to get number one spot. Playing endurance courses in expert championships are the most fun, surviving for 9 laps, whilst your opponents are inflicted with an incessant rage to drive everyone else off the track, leaving trucks scattered dead on the course you now have to manoeuvre around.

In my first race, there was a nice learning curve of getting to grips with driving. I managed to be first throughout most of the race, to which at the end I decided to use the boost when going over the finish line, only to crash and spin-off the barriers. I was overtaken and disheartened to see that I had lost my win due to a stupid mistake, only to find the nice surprise that there was in fact 4 laps to that race, which thankfully gave me the chance to catch up and get the best time lap. There were plenty of moments I was proud of, and I wish this had been on PS4 for ease of use to record highlights, as there were plenty of times I did steal first within a split second away from the finish line. Also the carnage that ensues is fantastic to watch, panels, wheels and lorries just flying into the air which would be great to record.

When completing races, you are rewarded with credits, a currency which is used for purchasing trucks and upgrades. Early on, you will focus on upgrading the one truck to be versatile between asphalt and dirt courses. Later you can upgrade more tailored trucks to being able to tackle only one type of race track, simply switching between trucks as and when needed. Customisation is always a nice feature to have in any racing game, as it does help to expand the gameplay beyond just constantly racing all the time, with some brain activity required. In this game, the customisation system is simple enough to understand, showing the costs of the upgrades and the direct benefits or knocks to performance. It’s definitely funny to see a rear spoiler being added to a lorry – boi racer mate!

Graphics are quite nice. I really do like the landscapes, the variety of being able to race through skip yards, ship yards, amusement parks, cities, country roads etc. Nice filled out courses with plenty of props in both foreground and background, plus the number of trucks that are involved in the races. They’ve done quite the job packing all that into a 900mb installation, though maybe that’s due to me now being used to 4K games requiring 50GB downloads. There are a few dips in frames when there’s lots of activity onscreen, usually when there’s also quite a few spotlights visible on the track I find. I like the 3D audience that line the side of the course, with even a few of them animated, cheering you on. I think it adds a nice touch and something that the developers didn’t have to do, as I’ve seen more modern racing games still use 2D sprites for such jobs.

The debris that enters and comes off the track is fantastic. Collisions between trucks and into sides of courses will tear panels off your truck. This then remains on the track, even after numerous laps of the course, being pushed aside by trucks as they drive over it. Tyres that are used as course markers will also be dragged into the mix, flying at the screen when clipped. It can be tens of items at a time flying around, obviously exhibiting the behaviour of PhysX. The collisions will cause damage to the trucks, over time reducing the health of the truck to zero that will then make it immobile. For opponents, this will make them a smouldering wreck on the track to now behave as an obstacle for those still in the race. The damage that appears on the trucks looks good; the custom paint job I had done now barely unrecognisable under scratches, dents and gouges. If things are starting to heat up, then you can have a nice gentle breeze running through the cabin by having both doors ripped off. Who even needed wing mirrors.

Something else that gets kicked up on the track are clouds of dirt and smoke. Depending on the road surface, the opponents’ trucks in front will kick up a tail of dust, disrupting your view as you guess the rest of the course layout and avoiding others. I can understand why there aren’t any night maps, entirely pitch black in seeing distance, as you do tend to rip the front panels off your trucks when crashing, including your headlights, but the tracks will have other times of days in effect such as dusk or mid-day.

Racing either in 3rd or 1st person perspective is fantastic. I always prefer 1st for immersion, and it’s just a shame that there was no view from within the cockpit for that extra bit of immersion of a bobble head on the dashboard and sitting on my favourite football shirt. The other thing that was sadly missing from the game, was understandably music during the races. I get that it probably would have blown any small budget, and I did anyhow have a twitch stream on in the background whilst playing, so it’s not hard to entertain your ears yourselves, you’re just not capable of doing that from the game unless you really do want to be able to hear other racers coming up behind you.

The campaign only takes 6 hours to fully complete, finishing first in all races and fully upgrading all vehicles. It’s a nice, light game that you can either complete in one go or just complete a championship whenever you feel in between your main games.

Achievements for the majority of the game are easy enough to acquire throughout the playthrough, but as mentioned about the lack of online players, there are a few that can be difficult and time-consuming to bother with. I also found that I did have to do the activity linked to an achievement a few times for it to activate, one of which just definitely was not having it.

All-in-all, it is a good game. It’s definitely a strong Playstation Plus offering from Sony. I would have been interested in seeing a sequel for this on the PS4, as I’m sure it could have been vastly expanded upon. I don’t know if I would recommend for you to go and buy a copy, as there are plenty of better racing games out there such as Need For Speed: Most Wanted, which I highly recommend for a billion reasons that I need to write an extremely late review on, and can also be played on the PS3 aswell for the same price, where it does look fantastic, though I prefer the ultra fine details on PC for that. So only if you’re really into racing your trucks, or if you also have this sitting around on your PS3 after acquiring it from Playstation Plus, then do I recommend that you play this fine game.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thelategamer.com/video-game-review/late-truck-racer-review/

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