Racing Lamborghinis, Porsches and other supercars in games such as Project Cars and Forza Motorsport is fun and all, but sometimes it’s nice to experience something a little bit different. That’s where FIA European Truck Racing Championship comes in.
Forget about muscle cars, track toys and other desirable four-wheeled beauties; FIA European Truck Racing Championship is all about driving massive trucks, which I guess is a given considering its name. They don’t go particularly fast, and don’t corner all that well at speed, which may make you think that this game won’t be all that exciting. Think again though, as driving a 5-tonne behemoth is apparently just as entertaining as driving the latest hypercar.
The main draw of FIA European Truck Racing Championship is its career mode. Surprisingly, you can’t just jump right into it, you have to complete a series of driving tests first to get your licence. Think back to the early Gran Turismo games and you get the idea.
Eventually though, after proving your skills, you get to enter the game’s career mode proper, and can choose to take part in either the European Truck Racing Championship or the World Series.
Your choice mainly dictates the types of trucks you’ll be driving in and against. Those found in the European Truck Racing Championship are lighter and nimbler, but they’re also more prone to oversteering. On the other hand, World Series trucks are bigger and heavier, planting them more firmly on the ground, but they’re also faster. Needless to say, both the European Truck Racing Championship and World Series present a their own unique challenge.
Regardless of your choice, the structure of the career remains the same. You prove your worth, join a team, and then take part in race weekends until the season is over. Then you get to do it all again. Each race weekend consists of a practice session, qualifying session, super pole if you qualify for it, and then two races. And that’s on each day. As such, you’re pretty involved in the action. Your finishing position in each event determines how much reputation you earn, your income, and also the security of your position on the team.
Initially you’ll be taking on short contracts, but after you’ve earned yourself a bit of a reputation, teams will be wanting to secure you for longer periods. At that point, FIA European Truck Racing Championship‘s career mode fully opens up, giving you the responsibility of improving and repairing your truck using your earned credits. You also need to make sure that you save enough credits to pay your team and keep them happy.
Outside of the career, there’s the usual quick race, championship, time trial and weekly event options. 14 tracks are available overall, including favourites such as Laguna Seca, Nurburgring and Fuji Speedway, and there are numerous weather options. Also, if you are an avid fan of the European Truck Racing Championship or World Series, you’ll be happy to know that you can race as any of its drivers.
In terms of multiplayer options, FIA European Truck Racing Championship offers split-screen as well as online racing. Players can create or search for events that match their requirements, or they can just jump into quick races. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this review I haven’t been able to find an online race, so I can’t comment on online stability. Bear that in mind if you’re thinking of buying this game to race online.
What makes FIA European Truck Racing Championship stand out isn’t only the fact that you’re racing trucks, but also how you need to manage the heat of your brakes. As you can imagine, quickly bringing a truck down to a manageable speed to negotiate tight corners requires a hell of a lot of stopping force, and that causes the brakes to heat up and eventually lose their effectiveness. It’s therefore up to you to spray your brakes with water in order to keep them cool and working effectively. But you only have so much water to use per race.
Of course, cooling the brakes can be passed off to the CPU if you wish; like many racing games, FIA European Truck Racing Championship has a wide range of assists to make its action accessible to a wide range of players. On track, a penalty system means that you can’t drive too recklessly, however, and you’ll also find that you can’t rewind time if you make a serious mistake. You can restart any event without penalty, though.
FIA European Truck Racing Championship is presented rather nicely, and on Xbox One X it looks quite nice during gameplay, too. The only thing that lets it down are its character models, which are very poorly animated. Thankfully you only really see them when they take to the podium at the end of a race. Most importantly, though, I’ve not encountered any issues with performance.
All in all, FIA European Truck Racing Championship is a surprisingly good racer, though it’s not going to appeal to all due to the fact that it’s about racing big heavy trucks rather than the latest sports cars. Still, for those seeking something a little bit different, it’s definitely worth investigating. I wouldn’t say it does anything spectacularly well, but when there’s nothing else quite like it available, it doesn’t matter all that much. FIA European Truck Racing Championship offers a fresh racing experience, and that’s somewhat an unexpected pleasure in 2019.
FIA European Truck Racing Championship is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC. We reviewed the Xbox One version.
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