by Murray Lewis
reviewed on PC
ONE FOR THE GREASE MONKEYS?
If you've never worked on a car, you've missed out on something great. Perhaps not the aching muscles, puddles of grease and bits of grit that lodge themselves deep beneath your fingernails. Nor the realisation that you have every size of spanner except the one you need, or the hours spent poring over a Haynes manual, trying to work out how to put the damn thing back together again.
What you miss out on is the bizarre, mechanical companionship. You spend long enough working on a car, and it feels like your new best friend. You know its strengths, you know its weaknesses. You even know all of its dirty secrets. It's a beautiful thing, and Car Mechanic Simulator 2015, from PlayWay, is the latest attempt to bring that experience into the home without leaving a trail of oily footprints across the hallway.
A NEW ENTERPRISE
Having been unceremoniously dumped into an empty garage, the phone rings. Work flows quickly in CMS2015, and it seems like you always have several potential jobs lined up. I guess there isn't much competition nearby.
Once you accept a job, the car magically appears in the middle of the garage, and waits for you to grab your toolbox and begin an examination. The game does a good job giving virtual presence to pretty much every significant component that makes a car 'go', from the alternator to the sway bar end links, and you'll soon be getting to know them all intimately.
The game starts you off gently, telling you exactly what is wrong with each car, but soon begins to hand you jobs with more vague problems like 'the engine is too loud' or 'the steering feels loose' and expects you to work out what needs to be done. As you become more comfortable with the task at hand, you learn to quickly find the problems based on nothing but these complaints. After only a few hours with the game, I even found that I was now familiar with the guts of many of the fictional vehicles – they become like second homes, with their own landmarks and identifying features.
Sadly, the way the jobs are delivered is something of a missed opportunity. There's no personality involved – you're just shipped a car and a shopping list of problems. It feels like you've accepted a to-do list, rather than a car belonging to a real person. As it is, the sterile isolation of the lone mechanic working on mysterious orders delivered by telephone lends an eerie, dystopian feel to the place.
I haven't played much of last years entry, Car Mechanic Simulator 2014, but I recall that it actually did have more realistic complaints from customers. Why they've been taken out for this new version is beyond me, but it's a real shame, as the game has lost a great deal of personality as a result.
Great variety of cars and engines. Slick graphics. A fun diversion.
Many CMS2014 features now AWOL. Over-simplified gameplay. Clunky interface in some areas.