Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Strongest Truck 2

A lot of companies apparently feel that it's very important to get the Flash game crowd on board. It seems that there is no product or service so niche that the corporations involved won't spend a little money getting someone to produce a short game to advertise their wares online. But these games are usually just low budget versions of the rushed tie-ins that accompany so many blockbuster movies these days, largely pointless wastes of time (and in a subsection of games that could all be called pointless wastes of times, it takes a lot to stand out.) Such is the tragedy of Strongest Truck 2, sponsored by Volvo, of all people, to advertise one of their trucks.

The first thing to note about Strongest Truck 2 is that it can take an age to load. If you don't have a decent internet connection, you could be waiting for any length of time (one comment on noted that it took them half an hour to load the game.) What I don't understand is why it takes that long? The game itself is only one level and that takes less than two minutes to complete. So what's the hold up?

Is it the graphics? It can't be, because they're just the sort of fake 3D you find in lots of Flash games. And don't start thinking it's because of the realistic truck physics, because there aren't any.

At least it's all kept really simple, with just two buttons to control the speed of the truck. You start off in this laboratory before accelerating up a ramp and inexplicably crashing through a waterfall. OK, at least that's pretty cool, if a bit random. Are all of Volvo's factories hidden behind waterfalls? What are they hiding from - the recession?

Too late.

So you drive forward for three seconds until you find a giant button on the road and once you press it a friendly arrow points you back the way you came. I really had no idea what I was supposed to be doing when I played Strongest Truck 2 for the first time, so I didn't really know what to expect.

However, the last thing I ever would have imagined happening was my truck flying over a small hill, landing too high on the back wheels and flipping backwards onto the roof. The reason this came as such a surprise is because trucks normally don't fall like that.

Oh, I know they can tip over and I'm sure if you drove fast enough and hit the ground hard enough from high enough you could flip forward, but the vast bulk of a truck's weight is on the front. It stands to reason, then, that its centre of gravity would be to the front of the vehicle and keep it from falling backwards. The only time I've ever seen a truck flip like that is in The Dark Knight and even Batman could only make the fucking thing flip forward.

Anyway, should you reverse into the shed without crashing you'll find a trailer filled with fragile objects, none of which have been properly tied down. This is the main part of the game, you see - getting as many of the items to the end of the bumpy course as you can in as short a time as possible.

But as the screenshot above shows, nobody thought to spend any time making sure the truck or trailer acted in any way like they would in real life. When was the last time you saw an entire trailer rise up off the ground like that? Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, or maybe Volvo are trying to tell us that their trucks have no suspension. No wonder sales went down 99.7% last year.

This image is in a toughly-contested fight with the waterfall jump for the title of Most Ridiculous Moment In Strongest Truck 2. What kind of customers is Volvo looking for here? Or maybe they're making a pitch for Speed 3: Swedish Crisis. It isn't like the truck ever moves fast enough to make this look cool. Apparently sluggish acceleration and slow top speeds are a hallmark of Volvo trucks.

So what was the point of this game? Apparently, other than to dig Volvo into an even deeper hole, people who scored highly were eligible for prizes. But now that the contest is finished, why keep the site up? This game in no way deserves to be left to posterity. Its poor graphics and non-existent physics, combined with its laughable shortness, make it yet another terrible example of what happens when a major corporation thinks the guy from Accounts who knows a bit about computers is the perfect candidate to make their shitty playable adverts.

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