LifeisXbox’s Bus Simulator 21 review | Flight Simulator came out, Train Sim World 2 came out and now it is time for another public transport simulator, Bus Simulator 21. When playing the previously mentioned games I often received an Xbox Live message asking me why I was playing something like this. I’m aware that this genre isn’t for everyone but there is a lot more to it than simply driving around. I find peace in games like this, not everything has to revolve around shooting someone or exploring pretty locations. Setting up decent and reliable bus routes, controlling passengers their tickets, keeping them happy, and following traffic rules. That’s the main gameplay from Bus Simulator and I honestly love it.
One thing I learned by playing Bus Simulator 21 is that it isn’t so easy being a bus driver. You have to keep an eye on bus stops while traffic around you doesn’t pay attention to your bus. Have to take note that everyone can enter the bus, for example, wheelchair users. You have to sell tickets to passengers while driving or something as easy as closing doors is something you can’t forget to keep everyone safe.
What we liked!
- Route building system | You would think that driving is the main thing from Bus Simulator 2 but that’s not the case. Creating efficient routes is very time consuming and important for getting a good public transport reputation. Every single bus stop has different things that you need to consider, what is the demand? How busy is it during peak hours? Is it profitable in the evening or at night? I had a lot of fun figuring out the best day and nighttime schedules and that’s all very time consuming too. Another fun element is that every bus stop can be levelled up with an EXP system, a bit of a shame that a stop only receives experience if a real driver stops though. buses controller by AI won’t level up bus stops, they do earn income but that’s it.
- It has some flaws but it remains fun | Here’s how 15 minutes work in Bus Simulator 2. You create a bus route and pick up a bus to start doing the route shift. You have a limited amount of time to reach all bus stops while following the traffic rules. Yup, that means stopping for a red light, giving priority from the right side, using your vehicle indicators and stopping for pedestrians. There’s a hefty money punishment when you don’t follow the traffic rules! When you reach a bus stop you have to position your bus correctly so bus passengers can enter and leave your vehicle, sometimes you have to lower your wheelchair lift or give a passenger a bus ticket and return the appropriate amount of change. There’s more to do, catching fare dodgers, buying new buses, finding collectables in the large world and more. The unique combination of all of that is pretty addictive!
- Creating your own playstyle | One thing I didn’t expect was the number of options to custom your play style. If you don’t want to sell tickets or want to focus on extended management duties that are all possible. Creating timetables, buying and selling vehicles and making sure everything goes well around peak hours will be fun enough for some players, you don’t have to drive yourself if you don’t want that. The complete opposite is possible too, if you simply want to drive a bus around without other obligations that’s an option too.
- An overwhelming time in menu’s | Most actions is hidden with the menu screen, switching on all the lights, switching off the parking brake, lowering the wheelchair lift or opening and closing the doors. You’ll be on the map menu a lot figuring out bus routes too.
- Odd sense of driving | Driving is an important part of the experience and it feels a bit awkward. I tried changing the steering sensitivity but that didn’t help. Buses feel floaty and turning them left or right simply don’t feel realistic. It takes a long time to get used to it and this is definitely something that should be improved. It is a nice touch that each bus drives differently though, driving a small coach bus or the typical London bus decker is an entirely different driving experience. There are 30 licensed vehicles and all of them have different physics and stats like speed, passengers capacity or fuel. Taking the bus with the most capacity might be the smartest thing to do but we all know that 80% of the player base wants that fancy looking double-decker bus first! The list with buses is pretty long and if you know something about bus brands you’ll be happy to know that most international manufacturers are present. Blue Bird, Volvo, Setra or Dennis are all in the game.
- Gorgeous and ugly at the same time | At times it is very clear that Bus Simulator 21 is a recent release with a dynamic day and night system and very pretty weather effects. Reflections are nicely done and some of the environments are very detailed. However there is an extremely large difference between the two available worlds, you have the new map Angel Shoes and Bus Simulator 18’s Seaside Valley. That last one is noticeably uglier… That said, even Angel Shoes looks like an Xbox 360 game sometimes. One thing that really caught my eye was the cockpit view, or I should say the lack of detailed textures here. So yeah, it is a very mixed graphical experience at least the performance on Xbox Series X is super smooth!
What we disliked
- What do I have to do? | Missions aren’t always clear and getting stuck because the game doesn’t tell you clearly what to do happens on some occasions. Especially with the tutorial for bus routes, it took me a long time to figure out what the game wanted me to do. A bit weird as the game holds your hand very strongly but let’s go completely on some more advanced stuff. There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck because the game doesn’t explain enough what it expects you to do.
- AI pedestrians and cars are dumb | Dumb AI isn’t something new in open world games but in this game, you get punished by it. As this game requires you to follow the traffic rules… this ain’t no Grand Theft Auto… you get fines for hitting other cars or pedestrians. The crowd that walks around are all suicidal as they gladly jump in front of your bus without any reason. Cars don’t seem to recognise your position as they regularly decide to switch lanes by using turn signals. More annoyingly is that cars don’t always correctly use the traffic lights, standing still while it is green. You have to navigate around these cars and this often ends up in driving mistakes or more time pressure.
How long to beat the story | 20 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | 30 hours
Similar with | Driving a real bus around a busy city!
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