Who thought driving buses was such a complicated art? Thankfully, Bus Simulator has arrived calling at Lots to Learn, fun to drive, annoying AI and finishing at lots of objectives to complete. There is a slight detour thanks to some annoying loading times too.
Bus Simulator has made the jump from PC to console and for the most part the game does exactly what you would expect. You start the game by creating a company and an avatar that will represent you when you drive. You’ll then learn all about how your bus works, from unlocking your doors, starting the engine and all the various components required to manage your bus on a daily basis.
Once you have completed the tutorial you’ll be introduced to the city you’ll be running your network. At first, you’ll only be able to roll out across a small part of the city but over time you’ll be able to expand. You’ll be given a set of objectives to complete which will reward you with money to spend and new parts of the city to manage.
The objective range from creating routes to a certain specification, or making sure your route is making a profit, there isn’t anything too challenging and it won’t be long until you have the whole city to look after.
You’ll spend a lot of time building routes using the route builder, it’s a simple enough process let down by a fiddly UI, the map is slow to move around and sometimes the objectives menu gets in the way, you also don’t always know which part of the menu is active causing you to lose process. Once a route is created it will be assigned a number, however, if you delete that route you can never use that number again.
From the main screen you can also manage your drivers and buses, you’ll start off with only one bus and no drivers, but as you earn more money you’ll be able to purchase more vehicles and hire more staff. You can assign each of your drivers to different routes who can then bring in revenue. You can customise the livery of each vehicle and even run ads on them to bring in more revenue.
There isn’t a huge range of buses to purchase and drive and the game only seems to have single decker buses available, it would have been nice to see a larger range of vehicles to drive. Despite this there is a huge amount of detail in each vehicle, nearly every button on the buses dashboards are usable and the vehicle sounds are all authentic too.
Driving the buses feels very authentic, you can feel that you are driving a real bus and it takes a little bit of learning to get used to taking on tight corners and remember to brake a bit earlier to pull into bus stops. As you drive your route you are rewarded for driving well, indicating when turning, keeping to the speed limit as well as arriving at the bus stops at the right place. The AI vehicles around you are frustrating, especially at junctions where they seem to be far too polite! The city you drive around is fairly bland, and the people that walk around the city seem a bit too robotic, have a look at the passengers on your bus and you’ll notice that there isn’t much variation in the character models.
Depending on how realistic you want the experience to be, you can customise your experience to best suit you. You can start from the garage or at the first bus stop, you also decide to loop your route or be punished for arriving too early at a bus stop. You can use the Sat Nav in your vehicle to manage your timings if you need them. You can even issue tickets on the bus, which was unique at first, but the novelty wore off pretty quickly.
Simulation enthusiasts will enjoy the experience, I had a great time! Once you have completed the objectives there is nothing else to keep you coming back, however some DLC and extra vehicles will be most welcome. The driving feels authentic, and the route management, although frustrating, is an interesting challenge. Bus Simulator is generally well put together and has a big enough niche to be successful.