thai_jedi's Bus Driver (PC) review

Better than expected but still medicore

Bus Driver is, as its name would suggest, a bus driving simulator made by SCS. There are some professions that make good simulators: pilots, train drivers, combat pilots, for example. Bus driving is not one of those professions. Other games that would not attract awe:

Postman Simulator: make your postie go from door to door, tapping the F1 and F2 keys in succession to keep him walking. Make sure you deliver all the post and beware of the dog! A variety of similar looking cul-de-sacs will keep you amused for hours.

The Librarian: you control Mary the librarian as she goes about her daily routine. You have to sort the incoming books by category and make sure that the shelves are fully stocked. But watch out for people who refuse to pay their 40p late returns debt.

Milkman Simulator: taking on the role of a milkman, your role is to deliver all the milk on your milk float before the sun comes up. Watch out for thieving chavs and stray cats though! Careful driving is imperative, which is lucky because you will never get to go fast in this sim. Come to think of it, that's a bit like Bus Driver.

Bus Driver's flaw is that it has taken what largely appears to be a tedious job and turn it into a relatively tedious game. Yes you get to drive one of twelve different buses, but with no discernable difference between the models, this seems a largely cosmetic feature. Similarly, the 30 different routes offer little variety in this game.

Your role, unsurprisingly, is to drive from bus stop to bus stop, collecting and dropping off passengers, whilst obeying the laws of the road. This means using indicators when turning or changing lanes, not running red lights, not crashing and not ramming other cars. Which is a shame. Obeying the Green Cross Code / Highway Code will earn you points; harsh braking, crashing, etc will see points detracted. Eventually, you learn to indicate when losing control on a corner (to ensure that you earn points for "correct blinker usage" when changing lanes) and slow down gently well before traffic lights which ALWAYS change to red just before you go through them at 43mph leaving you 200 points worse off for running a red light.

The graphics are nice, but they don't compare to Flight Sim X or other simulators. The camera's POV is a little off putting, being behind the back of the bus, it sometimes flits to the side which means you are not ideally placed to see where obstacles reside. The game does try to handle this by making the bus transparent, but you are left wondering why there is not a range of views, including one from in the driver's seat.

After a little while, this game becomes incredibly easy, especially when you switch to using a controller, rather than the rather clunky keyboard controls. And here's the strange thing: although it's incredibly repetitive, Bus Driver is also somewhat addictive. Earning points for careful driving is just too rewarding after a lifetime of playing Grand Theft Auto and Driver with little or no consequences for poor driving. Different scenarios include driving in poor visibility in the rain (the visibility is not that poor, in fact I could see traffic lights better than usual), and driving in snow and ice.

With only 25 different missions, though, this game does not offer a lot of playing time, being quite easy to beat. At $29.99 or £19.99, this game is probably slightly overpriced which has to inhibit the scoring. The game works well on a mid-range PC and you shouldn't see too many graphical glitches.

All in all, this is a charming simulator which should be much worse than it is. It's unlikely to inspire you to become a real life bus driver, but you may get one or two evening's worth of entertainment out of it.


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