Bus Simulator 2018 Review (inc vorpX)
For the purposes of transparency, this review was created using a code provided by the company or their respective PR company. The use of a review code does not affect my judgement of the game.
Ever get on the bus late in real life and have a little grumble about it not being on time?…. Ever wondered what it is like being on the driver’s side and seeing what they have to do and put up with?… Well, this is where simulation games come in, the question is does Bus Simulator 2018 make you feel sorry for these people?
With Bus Simulator being a simulation game, as you would expect it doesn’t really come with any sort of story, instead it has a goal. Your goal is to bring a public transport service to a city that is lacking one. This involves starting as a lonely driver with vocal support from Mira, who seems to love buses more than anything. Soon you will grow your bus empire and start to hire people to help with running more routes, as you still do your picking up and dropping of passengers. All at the same time as growing your company’s revenue, giving you the chance to buy fancier buses, as you also start unlocking more and more of the world the team have built.
What Bus Simulator 2018 does well is drags you into the game and gives you that feeling of being a bus driver. This is done by the various points of views you can use in the game, the crazy button filled dashboard, dynamic weather, route planning and hazards like pot-holes in the road. It really leaves no stone unturned in making you feel immersed in the game.
Then it adds the little tasks in your role of driver, which will include making sure you are using your indicators (I forgot this a number of times), making sure you give the correct change, checking people have valid tickets, asking people to turn their music down, cleaning up the rubbish left behind and the general operation of the bus. You might think this all sounds a little boring, but please remember this is simulation game and all this makes sure it excels in the simulation area.
As mentioned previously you are going to get the chance to build your empire, buy fancier buses, and the game even offers customization options for your transport. Given all of this it really opens up for some addictive gameplay, where you want that next bus or may be to unlock the next decal, at these times you be saying to yourself just one more route.
The game also brings with it some great presentation, making sure the visuals and audio keeps you immersed in the simulation it is offering. The cities look beautiful and then as you start to grow and routes go into the suburbs, you will be taking in the pleasant views of the beautiful country side. Add to this the night routes, and the dynamic weather – that can you see taking on treacherous rain or even lowering your visor to block out the glaring sun. This all really brings the busy cities and more quiet country sides to life, as you really go into a gentle state of escapism. The only real issue I had with the visual side was the cut and paste passengers you will picking up, as there is so few models. At one point when I went to check tickets on the bus, I had a nearly a bus full of the same three character models, and some got a bit offended that I was asking to see their tickets again.
One thing I really liked about the presentation was the use of the audio. They have the sounds you would expect like the general hustle and bustle of the city sounds and the transport noise – both yours and the AI traffic, but then they include conversation from the passengers. Instead of having them all sitting silently, they might criticise your driving or talk about a TV program call Winter of Passion – which to me sounds like Game of Thrones and has me wanting to watch it myself. It all brings the games sound together, and adds a charming side to the simulation.
The game offers three control options which are keyboard and mouse, controller or steering wheel – which opens the game to everyone, whatever control method you prefer. With the number of shortcut buttons that you can map, the keyboard option is easiest if you want quick button access. When it comes to the controller, you can map a button to bring up an option wheel to control parts of the actions or look at the buttons on the dashboard and press them. But, of course if you want the ultimate simulation experience you really want the steering wheel set up. However, at the point of this review I have only tried keyboard and mouse and a controller, but they all can be mapped to your liking in the games options.
What type of playtime you are going to get out of the game really all boils down if you are enjoy simulators, because when it comes down the game it’s all about the hands-on repetition of being a bus driver and managing a company. However, give the game at least a few hours of your time before judging if you will like it, because at first it has quite a big learning curve and is punishing when it comes to mistakes like crashing, getting snapped speeding or curb-stoning – my favourite thing. These result in you bring docked money from your funds at the end of the day, which too many could lead to bankruptcy of your company and starting again. If it grips you after this time and you want to build that bus empire it could soon become very time-consuming, as you work on growing your bus company and getting those luxury buses.
This is where the VR side of Bus Simulator 2018 comes in. The game does not offer support for VR, but if you own vorpX you can set it up to work in virtual reality with not much fuss. For me when I see people playing simulation games like Euro Truck Simulator 2, I really think they are suited for VR, and getting to play Bus Simulator 2018 this way really enhanced the experience for someone who loves the medium like me.
You will be able to play the full game in VR mode via vorpX. What this does really well is makes the game so much more immersive, as you can look around the bus, the city and interact with the non-playable characters like you are there. It really brings the simulation to the next level, and the game does a great job of bringing that feeling in the standard mode.
* Please note vorpX is not directly supported by stillalivestudios, and is a separate third-party product you must buy.
Bus Simulator 2018 really does bring the A-game when it comes to the simulation, with its wide range of tasks and at first the very off-putting button filled dashboard in the cockpit of your bus. However, with the game offering all the appeal from solid simulation and the building of your public transport empire, it could become a victim of own strengths for some. With the repetition in the tasks you are carrying out the fun of driving the bus could soon wear thin. Although if you take to the game you will keep returning to build your empire in this very immersive game, and if you have VR and vorpX you can take that immersion to the next level.