Ding-Ding. Next stop Snoozeville. We all know that simulator games have 2 kinds of outcomes. They are either really good, or absolute bombs. Either way that it goes? There’s always an audience that gravitates towards them. And to those, I would say? Amazing that you’re able to put up with some of these. Me? I liked the Truck driver simulator. I don’t know? There’s a certain allure about just turning off your brain, driving for hours on end delivering shipments and slowly building up my company that just felt nice and wholesome. And it was something that didn’t take all too much of an effort to actually play. Then you’ve got your surgeon simulators and whatnot. But one thing that I didn’t know that was actually a thing? Was a bus driver simulator. Well… Here I am, with a foot in my mouth and a drowsy mind. I guess this is my Bus Simulator review? Sigh… Ding-Ding… Up next? Help me…
What do you do? You get your passengers from point A to B in a safe and quick fashion, while growing your transportation company out to become the biggest and best in town… Yaaay…
- Realistic sound: If there is one thing that the game gets absolutely right? Then it has to absolutely be the audio! I don’t know if they actually recorded actual bus sounds and noises but damn. Let me tell you! If you’d close your eyes? You’d actually believe you’re on a bus! From the door ‘s opening and closing to the acceleration of your vehicle. It all sounds like as if you were really there!
- UI & Handling: When you’re not driving your bus, you’re busy taking care of your company. This means buying a bus when it needs to be bought, a new driver for you to accept and setting up a new route for you and your buses to drive on. And it would be an OK experience if not for the awful controls in these menus. You have to use your right stick to navigate along with the right side menu if you have selected that menu on the left end of the screen. While creating a new route isn’t without its issues either. Sometimes it doesn’t select anything because a big popup window is in front of the town map, and you’ve got to close that one first. But tapping one time on the B button isn’t enough from time to time. Sometimes you’ve got to double-tap… And that can result in you going out of the route planner all entirely! I mean… What? There isn’t an indicator either to show as to where you are in the menus… I truly hope they’ll make it more obvious in the future! Or just overhaul the entire bloody thing to make it like every other game out there… USEABLE!
- Graphics: While the game is created in the Unreal Engine, which is in itself a visually appealing engine? It can also be used to create some visual monstrosities. And unfortunately, Bus Simulator is one that kind of borderline’s this fine line. While the exterior and interior of the bus look nice? There is just so much light, that it becomes a victim of lighting overexposure, and causes it to lose quality. One of these overexposures is also noticeable when it comes down to the ticketing system. The buttons are so bright that it’s hard to see which option you’ve got highlighted. Got the ticket printed? Now it’s time to give your passenger his or her money back. This goes with the use of buttons on the machine, but these are barely highlighted. You see a faint outline around the buttons with which you have got to make exact change. The number of times that I got the notification that I over-payed a passenger? Jeez… Tone down the lights there bud!
- Bugs: Yup… There are oodles and oodles of bugs here. For instance one of the more hilarious ones when my passengers went off the bus in a sliding T pose. The legs weren’t moving, they were just… sliding. Like a carefree bird. Another one was when one of my disabled passengers went on the ramp that is extendable so that they can get on the bus. He just… Catapulted away, never to be seen again. Well, I hope he got to his destination… Or passengers that would just get stuck at random spots, to have the game “nudge” them after a waiting period of around 10 to 15 seconds. Or the times that my driver door would just open and close itself as if a poltergeist was having a blast. Or the times that my A.I. driven car that was right in front of me just stopped. In the middle of the road, to just… Stand there! Ugh…
- Driving: Though this is a bus simulation, it often feels as if you’re driving the bus on ice. The game should’ve been called bus skating simulation. These things don’t feel sluggish, well they do actually. When you’re pushing the pedal to the metal. But the moment you’re starting to take a turn? Hoooo boy, hold onto your horses because you’re about to derail right into the side of the road if you’re not careful. This is where the game goes from Bulldozer speed all the way up to light speed. In the turns, your bus behaves like a mad ballerina! That’s why, if you’d look at my routes? There are a lot of straight roads and rarely a turn! Fix the one point that is most crucial in your game damnit!
- Frame Drops Galore: As already pointed at in the graphics section? The game uses the Unreal Engine. And, as said, it can create marvelous looking games or just plain bombs. Another part is that, if not optimized properly? The game runs like a ball of slime trying to roll uphill. Quick note: It doesn’t! The same goes with Bus Simulator. At times the frames would dip so hard, that I thought that I was playing a slide show game. It seems that something went clearly wrong here…
While the game’s sound is above normal quality, the overall game is just horrible to play. I honestly would not recommend this to anyone even though I know there is a fanbase for this one. While the intent was there to make a fun and interactive game, they just seem to have missed the ball entirely. I just hope that in the future, patches will be released to fix most, if not all, of Bus Simulator’s troubling issues. But at this moment? I’d just wait and maybe get it on a fire sale.
Developer: Astragon Entertainment Publisher: Stillalive Studios
Played on: Xbox One X Also available on: PS4 – PC
Alexis spent 4 hours being the designated bus driver for broken A.I.
Achievement difficulty for 1000 Gamerscore: 15+ hours
Perfect for: Anyone who has exhausted every other possibility in the simulation genre.
Xbox Game Store link: Click here