I quite enjoy a simulator game, and having a slight interest in cars, and how they work, thus was the ideal game for me to try out and play. But if like me you have no understanding how to take a car engine apart, or what torque you should set on a wrench, then this is the game for you.
Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 originally launched on the PC two years ago and the console version for Xbox and PlayStation 4 has been a long time coming, so long in fact, they had to drop the 2018 suffix.
Now in that time, you would have thought that in the two year period, a useful tutorial could have been developed, but alas, this is not the case, so for the first few hours of the game, there is a lot of trial and error, and a lot of guesswork. The “tutorial”, if you can call it that, gives a very basic description of what the item in question does, like the paint shop “allows you to perform various paint jobs”, or the repair bench is for carry out repairs – thank you very much for this…. How about you tell me what to do. However, once you get past this, and you start to understand how the game works, and what you can repair, and how to use the tools, the game can be quite a relaxing and rewarding experience.
The basis of the game is every car that you accept into your garage for repair is an elaborate puzzle. Find the faulty parts, dismantle the from the car in the correct order, fix them or order replacements, then put it all back together again. Its methodical and a satisfying experience, especially when some jobs are more complex than others.
The game does give you a decent guide on the process of guiding you through each repair job though, and any missing pieces are shown with outlines to remind you where to put them. If other parts are blocking you from removing a piece, this will be highlighted in red. When you have located the faults know, Overview Mode shows the offending parts clearly in different colours.
If you understand real-world car mechanics, this would certainly be an advantage. One job I had was to find why a car wouldn’t start. Without the necessary tools, you must inspect each part of the car, mostly by taking them off the car. In the end after some time, I found that the ignition coil, spark plugs, fuel filter, fuel pump and battery were all dead. However, this game has expanded my understanding of how a car works. Whilst being far from realistic, it does get you closely acquainted with much of a car’s internals. So next time my car goes into the garage for an inevitable repair job (it is a French car after all) at least I will have some sort of understanding of what they are talking about before handing over my credit card.
There is always a sense that you are progressing towards something whilst playing car Mechanic Simulator. You earn experience by working on cars and completing orders, which you then earn skill points, which can then be spent on faster part installation, expanding the workshop, and ordering new tools. Each job earns you cash as well, which can then be spent on your own vehicles. But be warned, this is not a quick process, and it takes a lot of time before you are in a position to buy your first restore job.
The amount of content on offer is huge, a large skill tree to unlock, car auctions, barns and junk yards full of old cars and parts. Test tracks and racetracks and a multi-level car parking to fit all the cars you can get. However, the biggest issue with this is it takes far too long to progress far enough to experience all of it.
The experience is also hampered by the controls, and I found myself wishing I had a mouse and keyboard to use instead of the controller. The camera is awkward, and not freely moveable, you have to focus on individual parts to rotate around. You use the right analogue stick as a cursor and X to focus and remove parts.
The biggest issue for me though, was the laborious task it is to track all the parts you need to buy in the shop. Whilst you create a shopping list, and go to the online shop to buy them all, you are faced with a massive list of parts that you need to purchase, and there isn’t an option to just purchase, all the parts on the list in one go. The shopping list you create doesn’t even collate all the items together, IE – 2x Rear Spring, but it’s just a mis-mash of parts all over the place. It was very easy to miss parts whilst ordering, and then have to go back to the shop and re-order, which was a pain when you are trying to put the car back together again.
The graphics were OK, a little rough around the edges, but not too many complaints from me, however all the wear and tear items are represented as rust, which really looks unrealistic, but the brown splodges feel cartoony and fails to replicate convincing corrosion.
In the end though, Car Mechanic Simulator demands a lot of patience. Patience how to learn how to play it, patience how to work with the clumsy menus and controls, and patience to work your way through its long story mode. But if you can tolerate this, it does have a rewarding gameplay.
Car Mechanic Simulator
Takes a lot of patience, to learn the controls, gameplay and camera angles. However, master these, and the sense of achievement repairing each car is a rewarding feeling. Gives you a chance to understand how a car works.
- Vast array of jobs to complete
- Sense of achievement after each job you complete
- An infinite amount of varying jobs to complete
- Pretty much useless tutorial
- Clumsy controls and camera angles
- Background music is annoying