Truck racing is a thing. I didn’t know it until the press release landed in my inbox a couple of weeks ago. But ever since I watched that first trailer, I was intrigued. I’ve always loved racing games and I’ve put more hours into Project Gotham Racing 4 and Forza Horizon 4 than I care to admit. Sorry, people, but I’m just not a fan of Gran Turismo. Sorry!
FIA European Truck Racing Championship falls more in line with simulation racing than arcade. The trailers for the game showed the big rigs doing sick drifts and all kinds of cool stuff. I booted up the game with the intention of replicating the trailer, only to find myself spinning out of control and facing the wrong way as my worst nightmares came ploughing into me head-on. Yeah, drifting is possible, but it takes some time and effort to learn.
Euro Truck Racing has a few different game modes, including multiplayer. I spent most of my time inside the game’s career offerings, though I also spent far too long in the training that comes before you can actually start your Euro Truck Racing career. A little like Gran Turismo, you must first qualify and gain your racing license. You’ll be put through a gamut of tests to see if you’ve got what it takes to keep your rig on the roads. They’re not easy. In fact, some of them are downright brutal in their difficulty, but with a lot of swearing, a lot of leaning forward and saying “I got it this time, I got it,” I was able to pass the tests with flying colours. Well, mostly bronze medals, but I qualified, damn it!
The career mode isn’t anything to shout about. It’s your bog-standard racing leagues. The fun comes in getting out onto the tarmac and seeing what you can do with a big rig. You can do a lot. They’re a lot faster than you’d think, and nimbler than I’d ever have imagined. You must understand that I only ever see these things on the autobahn carrying freight, not stripped naked and sexy. And boy do they look good.
While I’m a big fan of racing games, I couldn’t give two hoots about cars in general. I couldn’t tell a Maserati from a Fiat to save my life. I don’t know what a differential is and I don’t really understand why gears are a thing (just go fast always, right?) but I did appreciate the trucks. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just the child in me sees a big truck and gets excited. They look great, though, and some of them are basically massive sports cars. It’s mental to think that people actually race these things for real.
Racing is hard, though, and if you’re coming off of one arcade racer or another, you’ll need to leave your dirty casual habits at the loading screens. This is a simulation, more or less, and flicking the analogue stick too far either way will result in your spinning right round, baby, right round. Like a record. You know what I mean? These are big trucks, after all, and they handle far differently than the usual rides you’ll have grown accustomed to. For instance, you’ll have to actively cool your brakes as you use them by spraying water. It’s as simple as tapping the circle button, but having to remember to add that extra action took me an age to get used to. It’s essential, though, as your brakes will be all but useless if the temps get too high, similarly so if they’re too low.
Here there are penalties for doing what would ordinarily be considered fine in a racer. Slamming into another truck is not OK. Skipping over a corner to get a cheeky overtake in before the last lap is also not OK. You get the picture. You need to be on your best behaviour, something I find difficult at the best of times. What’s the point if you’re not going to test the limits, right?
For me, it was a good four or five races before I could actually get a podium finish, and even then that was more down to luck. On the last lap of a race there was a pile-up as an A.I driver borked his turn. I used the opportunity to nip past the weird truck traffic jam and nab myself a third-place finish. Not bad, but not something I’ve been able to do many times since. It’s hard, and I actually really like that. In other racers I constantly feel like I’m expected to win and that the game lets me. Not here. Not with the trucks. This is a manly game where no concessions are made for cry babies who can’t win. A box of tissues may be required for some…
The only thing that has really let me down with Euro Truck Racing is the graphical presentation. The trailer looked really good and I was expecting the game to look equally loved. Alas, it was not to be. It still looks decent and does the job, but there is a clear markdown from what was shown in the promotional materials to what was delivered as the final product. A little more gloss and the game would look fantastic. As it stands, it’s up there with the rest of the ‘Euro-jank’ games in terms of graphics. At least it runs well. I never really noticed any disgusting frame-rates, and in a racer it’s essential that responsiveness is consistent.
I’ve fallen for Euro Truck Racing, hard. I’m a sucker. It doesn’t treat me right and it’s always so damn difficult, but like an idiot who doesn’t know when to pack his bags and leave, I keep coming back for more, hoping that this time things will be different. Maybe next time.
FIA European Truck Racing Championship PS4 Review
Overall - Very Good - 7/10
I wasn’t expecting much going into Euro Truck Racing, but I’m glad I took a chance on the game. It’s racing, but different. It’s got the hallmarks of a decent racer, but it is let down by typical ‘Euro-jank’ graphics. With a little more love and money, Euro Truck Racing could be a decent series in the future.
- Seriously challenging, but very rewarding, sim-racing.
- Variety of modes, including split-screen multiplayer!
- You race trucks!
Graphics are a little bit of a let down, but they’re serviceable.
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.