by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
The Customer is Not Always Right
I thought chip tune was just a style of 8-bit music, but apparently itís also changing the programming of cars in order to get better performance and efficiency. Who said games never taught you anything? Car Mechanic Simulator 2014 is a game from PlayWay and Red Dot Games. You certainly play as a car mechanic, although I think the Ďsimulatorí part of the title is a bit of a loose term.
The game is slightly educational though. I knew the basics about the inside of a car and how it works, but I definitely wouldnít have been able to fix one for you. I still canít, but at least I can tell you where most of the stuff is. In CMS2014 (not to be confused with Content Management System 2014, a dreary affair at best), you are tasked with fixing a stream of cars with various problems. At the start of each level, you receive a clipboard with a check list of objectives. Change the brake pads. Check the exhaust. Youíre also given a note from the customer trying to give more details about whatís wrong with the car. I wasnít sure if the poor grammar in these sections was intentional to give a sense of dealing with idiotic customers, but I fear it wasnít. Your job is to fix the car, stamp the form, and send your customer on their merry way.
Monotony and tediousness
Early levels are simple as your customers appear to be mechanics themselves and know exactly whatís wrong with the car, leaving you with the simple task of replacing the broken part. However, it isnít long before Johnny Car-noob comes along, shouts ďITíS MAKING NOISESĒ, and runs off leaving you to figure out whatís wrong. This is when you will have to start examining the ins and outs of the car (an option signified by a magnifying glass, a tool Iím not sure Iíve ever seen a mechanic use). Damaged parts will be shown in red and must be replaced. A quick trip to the Car Parts Shop on your handy PC will provide you with the necessary component and then itís up to you to replace it.
This often means taking large sections of the car apart. Who knew it was so complicated to change part of the suspension? Maybe complicated isnít the right word here. Iím sure it is in real life, but in CMS2014 itís justÖ lengthy. You have to unscrew bolts one at a time by holding in the mouse button, but thatís about as tricky as it gets. (Another trip to the computer takes you to an online course, which somehow makes you unscrew things faster) All of your parts get put into a magical inventory sorted by how damaged they are. When youíre putting components back into the car, it shows you a nice blueprint of where it should go and automatically selects the right part for you. Itís all very simple, and ultimately, quite tedious. The only barrier is knowing exactly where the part youíre looking for is when youíre trying to fix it. This is quite a high barrier when you donít know, but each part is labelled when you mouse over it, so youíll find it eventually.
Not a driving game
The monotony is broken every now and then when youíre asked to take a car for a test drive to test acceleration, braking, handling and suspension, but after the first drive of unresponsive handling, I wasnít particularly looking forward to the next one. Later on youíll take it through a machine which tests the brakes and suspension for you, giving a telemetry. All this requires is pressing forward and then braking, so is even more boring than the test track. Towards the end of the game youíll be granted access to a carís computer for the aforementioned chip tuning. Here youíll play a sort of mini-game where you have to level out three bars so that theyíre equally efficient. Again, Iím pretty sure this isnít a simulation of what itís actually like.
no variety, but good value
You never really feel like youíre progressing. The garage I was working in changed a couple of times suddenly, without any fanfare. It looked nicer and there were some more gadgets, but it was odd that I was plonked in there with no warning. It was as if I had walked into someone elseís garage and decided to work there for a while. Sometimes youíre working on a more sleek looking car, but when you look under the bonnet or check the suspension, it all looks the same anyway. The graphics themselves arenít terrible, but there are definitely better looking cars around in gaming. As for the audio, itís great if you like wobble bass and want to turn your garage into a club, albeit with very quiet music. Otherwise youíre out of luck.
Maybe you need to be a lot more into cars than I am to get something out of CMS2014. Objectively though, it just doesnít seem like a whole lot of fun. Thereís a lot in there for the price, but thereís only so much you can fix in a car, and with 75 levels in the main game, along with an ďendless modeĒ, things become repetitive fairly quickly. More than that, it doesnít actually feel like youíre simulating real world practices. Still, thereís nothing else like it out there at the moment, so if youíre looking for some car mechanic action, this is the game for you.
Fairly educational for someone relatively inexperienced with cars like myself
Doesnít seem to be much Ďsimulationí going on here. Objectives become repetitive quickly