The biggest appeal of a simulation game lies not in when things go well, it’s when things go disastrously wrong. It’s those moments in life when you retract the landing gear instead of deactivating the seat-belt sign, when you shoot your own wing off in a dogfight, or when you accidentally surface your submarine in the middle of an enemy convoy. Excalibur Publishing’s Road Construction Simulator allows for none of these moments, and not only because you don’t get to drive a submarine.
My brother in law is a road construction worker. Over the last month he’s been sworn at repeatedly, several people have tried to run him over, and just the other week his firm had to deal with a man with a knife threatening to hurl himself off a bridge. Road construction sounds like non-stop thrills and excitement from start to finish. You can therefore imagine my surprise at discovering that Road Construction Simulator is anything but thrilling.
Playing the role of a road construction worker, you are tasked with following a series of ten linear road-related jobs to their completion. Each must be played in order, and all must be fully completed in order that you can eventually become the king of the road. Or something like that, anyway.
I appreciate that accusing a game about road construction of being repetitive may be somewhat redundant, but the first mission involves laying out fifty traffic cones in a straight line. Great, I thought. Finally I have a chance to live out those dreams of artistic traffic-cone arranging. Unfortunately, RCS refuses to allow even an element of imagination when it comes to your conistry. Each cone must be placed in a designated spot, and any attempt to arrange cones in an evil sigil dedicated to the summoning of Cthulhu is instantly rejected. You either put those cones where you’re told, or…I suppose you could go play something fun.
The next mission gives you the exciting task of resurfacing a cycle-path. Before getting to grips with laying the new tarmac, you must first remove the old broken surface. Eager to finally be getting to grips with something a little more exciting than the white-line painter, I seized my pneumatic drill and thrust it into the ground in an entirely non-suggestive way, expecting to see shards of debris flying into the air in a splendid fashion.
For a game to find a way to make shattering concrete with an automatic drill seem dull is truly an achievement, but the drill methodically breaks the concrete texture square by pre-rendered square in a lacklustre fashion, leaving me with the strange feeling I’m playing Minesweeper in 3d. I keep expecting to hit a patch of hard ground, or even better an unexploded WWII bomb, but my hopes for even the slightest moment of excitement are left utterly unfulfilled. Later missions involve heavier equipment, but earth-moving and excavation lack any of the subtlety and finesse found in Digger Simulator 2011, again reduced to merely changing tiles from one texture to another.
Early missions are set on a quiet country road without a car in sight. For a road construction game to completely ignore the perils of accidentally stepping out into traffic or leaving a pneumatic drill in the path of an oncoming school bus is a tragic oversight. Later, the game does move to a motorway construction site, but the action doesn’t exactly heat up. Seeing traffic rumble past on the other side of the road does make the environment feel slightly less utterly devoid of life, but I still might as well be trapped in lonely isolation, sentenced to very slowly dig up small squares of concrete for all eternity.
Road Construction Simulator is a game with an intriguing premise, but is somewhat let down by being absolutely abysmal. A complete lack of decent interaction or any sense of feedback from the equipment leaves it feeling lifeless and awkward, and the simulation is basic at its best. With a title like ‘Road Construction Simulator’ promising so much excitement, it was almost inevitable it could never live up to the hype.
Verdict: Crotch shot
Platforms Available – PC
Platform Reviewed – PC
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