Don’t be fooled by the title, this shovelware knockoff of the popular series of bus driving simulation is not worth the fare. The Finger Guns review.
Funnily enough, I applied to be a bus driver when I moved across the country. But after seeing the stress of driving in this city, I thought better of it. So, when Bus Driver Simulator landed at FGHQ, I thought I might live out those stress-free driving dreams vicariously.
There was me thinking that this would be a nice preamble about a cityscape, collect and drop passengers off and, above all, have fun. Well, that was wrong of me to assume.
Bus Driver Simulator shares nothing fun about the more popular series it’s riffing the name from. Which hopefully, after reading this, you’ll be cautious and not confuse the two like I did and was ultimately disappointed. Have correct fare ready and hop aboard to find out why.
Next Stop: Bad Graphics Graveyard
Where to start with this bus wreck? For one, it looks bland. If one were to see this game on a Wii, then it would easily be dismissed as one of the hundreds of shovelware titles pumped out on the little white box.
But this is the Switch, the console that can run The Witcher 3 and cloud-based games like Control. It’s capable of something better than what looks like alpha footage of a PlayStation title. Bland, uninspired towns and limited skyboxes do nothing to excite my bus driving journey.
The bus models themselves look lacking and hollow, which is funny as the camera will also let you pan inside the buses. Which, surprisingly enough, are hollow enough that the camera clips through everything in there.
One thing that Bus Driver Simulator does get right, at least, is the semblance of being a bus driver. If you thought you were just going to pull up to a space and your passengers would instantly hop in Crazy Taxi style, you might be in for a surprise. Although with this game’s clipping issues, it wouldn’t surprise me if NPC’s jumped through the roof.
What I mean is that Bus Driver Simulator actually simulates being a bus driver. Drivers are expected to manually operate their engines, doors and indicators. You’re expected to park accurately and apply the brakes, and open the doors, or passengers won’t get on and you’ll start accruing time penalties.
It did, for the shortest time at least, get me slightly invested in the life of my bus driver. Before the “I’m really not enjoying this” mood kicked in, I did take it seriously that I was lining my bus up to stops correctly, and I wasn’t going to accidentally pull away as the old dears were getting on the bus.
Buses, On Time?! What Madness…
The other aspect of the whole “being a bus driver” thing is in the planning of routes. Despite zero knowledge of Russian suburbs, it’s a novel feature to plan a route that you think you can handle. Linking stops will tell you how long each one would take, population density and demand, as well as predicted earnings.
With earnings come new buses and upgrades. Don’t expect Need for Speed levels of upgrades, mind. There aren’t any underbody lights, spoilers or nitrous kits to add to your people transporter. Just the standard go a bit faster/brake a bit better fare. Also, slightly redundant: you can’t speed or you’ll incur penalties, and braking too sharply really messes the rhythm of slowing down.
Then there’s the bigger, sleeker buses to buy. Again, it all seems pretty standard: the more expensive ones have better stats. Unless you’re a connoisseur of Eastern European/Russian buses, it really won’t really tickle your fancy to own them all.
If it sounds like I’m being dismissive of the bus driving career, I’m not. I’m being dismissive of this game.
I’ll Get A Cab
There isn’t really much more to say about Bus Driver Simulator. Giving it any more credence feels like more effort than what went into making it. Like being a bus driver in a real life busy city: it’s more stressful than enjoyable.
I wanted to enjoy it, even after mistaking it for the popular Bus Simulator series.The hope was there that I could look past the ugly visuals, terrible pop-up and bare minimum effort to enjoy being a bus driver. I tried, I really did.
But, and given how long it’s taken to write this review, I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm to enjoy it. To put it bluntly: it’s just really, really rubbish.
Don’t fall for the similar name, Bus Driver Simulator Countryside is nothing like its popular predecessor. It is bland, it is ugly, and if it is meant to be an accurate depiction of driving around Russian suburbs, it is offensive to Russia. Don’t wait around for this one, seek alternate routes of enjoyments.
Bus Driver Simulator Countryside is available now on Nintendo Switch (reviewed on Switch Lite) and PC.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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