In recent years the Simulation genre has gone from strength to strength and gathered a huge amount of popularity along the way. From Flight Sim, Farming Sim, Bus Sim all the way to Fishing Sim, Goat Sim and even Wanking Sim (yes really) so it should come as no shock that Construction Simulator would have a new entry boasting better graphics, more vehicles, more jobs, more features and a huge world, but does it deliver on this promise? Let’s take a look.
The set up will be familiar for players of Simulator titles.
You begin working for a company whose reputation you must build up and maintain by completing jobs and contracts, managing your finances, purchasing and maintaining a good selection of vehicles for various job types and above all else, have fun.
You begin by selecting a character avatar to represent you, they aren’t particularly varied but considering you won’t be spending much time wandering around as them it doesn’t really matter. After choosing your name and the name of your company you then get to tinker with the options to scale the gameplay experience around your style, from a selection of control schemes to whether you will get penalties for traffic violations but don’t panic, these can be adjusted on the fly if you find that the set up is too punishing or not quite “Sim” enough, it’s then off into the fictional German town of Neustein.
Now whatever character you choose, you will have the background of being a game designer and now you are trying your hand at construction while being mentored by Pete, a veteran of the building trade who will oversee your early days and activities in something of a hand holding tutorial before you are let loose. This tutorial is a very stop and start affair which may frustrate people looking to get straight into the game or for players familiar with the series. As a newcomer to Construction Simulator, I didn’t mind too much as there are a few nuances to learn and get to grips with if you are going to get the most out of the experience.
You begin by taking ownership of your first vehicle and driving it to your depot. The tutorial will teach you the basics of turning headlights on at night and selecting your various camera options. If you have traffic violations activated as I did then you must, of course, abide by the rules of the road. Keeping an eye out for speed limits, traffic lights and flow along with pedestrians etc will all form a part of everyday traversal with fines coming your way and eating into profits for GTA style driving. You do have the option later to skip the driving sections for a price but once I got my head around actually behaving myself behind the wheel and checking my mirrors in cockpit view I enjoyed driving around the town and taking in the sights which also helped make me more familiar with the routes meaning less reliance of setting and following waypoints as time went on.
You are then taught the basics of switching your vehicle mode from drive to work mode and operating the equipment. From using the crane to load crates and cargo onto the truck and securing the goods to lifting timber onto a roof to begin repairs, everything is a step by step process but with all the information coming in text, there were some translation issues I encountered such as “Switch to the trucks function mode of by pressing X” which at a glance made no sense but is nothing that cant be tidied up with a patch down the line.
On the road again.
After acquiring a few vehicles and getting to grips with their basic functions and gaining an understanding of managing your resources and funds you are set loose to take jobs and expand your business. The vehicles are all licensed products with official brands like Caterpillar, Liebherr, MAN, ATLAS, HAM AG and more with over 70 missions to complete. The variety of missions is impressive which ensures you get a good variety of gameplay and good use of the selection of vehicles on offer. From fixing up homes and barns to working on larger scale building and repairing damaged roads, you won’t be short of a few tasks to keep you busy.
Although Construction Simulator doesn’t expect you to be pinpoint accurate with each placement and movement there were some technical issues I encountered which soured the experience somewhat. Now, this is not a game that is designed to be played flat out and instead rewards calmer actions providing a more relaxing game experience, probably why the genre has become so popular, but there is a lot of back and forth with the controls which for me personally, became a bit frustrating with certain vehicles. Having to tackle sketchy camera angles with lining up a digger or a crane became a hassle as you have to click the R3 to switch between free camera movement and vehicle controls, as the camera decided it wanted to sit behind pieces of scenery at the drop of a hat completely blocking my view it became a battle to keep repositioning in the hope I could complete the task I was undertaking. Though fitting so many complexities onto a control pad is a task in itself for any developer it all just felt a bit too fiddly for me.
When the camera wasn’t being an arse then the general vehicle controls were fairly smooth to deal with and became more about rhythm than a precise exercise. One thing to be aware of if you are new to the genre is they tend to be very menu heavy with a lot of flicking between gameplay functions and getting your head around various control schemes. Once you do get into the flow and find your feet though things start coming together and the experience really opens up.
Presentation is not Triple-A quality but to be fair, it doesn’t need to be. The visuals are clear enough with each construction vehicle being very well detailed with realistic sound effects, the one thing that does seem out of place is the background music, it sounded like something a low budget wrestler would walk to the ring to instead of a more ambient vibe that I was expecting, that’s not to say I mind a bit of rock music, it just felt out of place here. The town of Neustein is impressive in size and taking the time to just drive around and take it all in showed an impressive living world with beautiful European countryside to admire, anyone who has played Bus Simulator will feel right at home here.
Simulation games are not for everyone, and although I do have an appreciation for the genre I personally couldn’t quite get into Construction Simulator. This was most likely down to the issues I had with the camera and also not being keen on the amount of back and forth with the control scheme. That being said, I can see a lot of love has gone into this title and fans of the series will likely find a lot of enjoyment here with a generous amount of content for such a humble price.
Review code provided
Format: Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC, Mobile
Download link: Microsoft Store