Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mad Truckers

I trust you all had a good Christmas. Mine was the usual series of nice moment followed by disappointing moment followed by awesome moment followed by shitty moment followed by Mad Truckers. Actually, this is the first year that I had to endure Mad Truckers and, God help me, it will be the last.

This was one of those many moments when I was tricked by the game description into playing something I normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot barge pole. With a name like Mad Truckers I had expected a satisfying romp through the highways and byways of a fictional countryside causing untold damage to private property and leaving a trail of wanton destruction in my wake. Oh, how wrong I was.

The real story is that you've been given a job by a friend of your uncle's that requires you to deliver goods as quickly as possible, snaking through the gentle twists and turns of some endless motorway. You can crash into other vehicles if you really want to, but this isn't the central goal of the game, and you need to hit cars with your trailer if you don't want to absorb any damage. Because, you know, having to drag two tons of twisted steel and rubber behind you wouldn't affect your speed whatsoever.

It's while bumping Minis and avoiding giant potholes that you discover the bad guy is out to get you for stealing his business! Don't be surprised to learn that his name is "the bad guy." I could forgive such a dearth of creativity if the gameplay made up for it. But then, if that was the case, you wouldn't be reading this, would you?

The Bad Guy decides that the only thing to do is to update his fleet with better trucks and build new relationships with fresh customers.

Sorry, I meant to write that he starts dropping land mines on the highway. When these prove ineffective (what with them being bright red and easy to avoid) The Bad Guy resorts to missiles!

That's right - missiles, fired from small cars. I guess we are in a recession - desperate times, and all that. Our hero's response to this is typical. Sure, he could call the cops, but what would that achieve? Better to lower his prices and work even harder!

Of course, it's hard to worry when none of these weapons cause any damage to your vehicle whatsoever. Whoever programmed this game needs to be dragged backwards through a blackthorn bush. The missiles do absolutely nothing - they simply hang there, not moving, not exploding. You can drive straight through them and nothing happens. Unless the missiles hit you the very moment they appear onscreen, they just get stuck wherever they show up and stay there for the duration of the level.

I took this shot just to show you how ridiculous it gets. Who releases a game without first checking that little things like the enemies' weapons actually work?

What begins as an exercise in boredom quickly becomes an exercise in restraint - restraining myself from tracking down the creator of this game and punching a hole through his abdomen. Lots of crap games get made, but by and large you get the feeling that they were started with the best of intentions. I don't think I can say that for Mad Truckers. If even the slightest care was taken, you wouldn't have ridiculous images like the one shown above.

I was destroyed, not by any of the thirty missiles that surrounded my truck, but by a green four-door saloon that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The bad guys were useless in almost every way, and why we even needed them in the first place was never properly explained. Why not just stick to the central premise of making deliveries as quickly as possible and avoiding other traffic? The game still would have sucked, but at least the incompetence of the programmer wouldn't have been made so obvious. Mad Truckers has been panned by largely everyone who has had the misfortune to play it, and this is one of the few occasions where I have to say the man on the street has got it absolutely right.

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