Before now something had kept us unaware of the macho-romanticism of the long-distance truck driver. Now, suddenly, the appeal of the open road strikes us: We%26rsquo;ve got a big blue truck and a delivery that needs to be in Las Vegas, like, yesterday. There%26rsquo;s a whiff of management, but really this is a driving simulator. Not a driving game, in that Grand Theft Auto style, no: a simulator. You pick up your load, you head out on the road. And you drive carefully.
The entire American interstate road network has been miniaturized, meaning you can get an hour-or-two taste of what it means to drive from Minneapolis to Miami with a container full of shoes. What%26rsquo;s most impressive about the road-travel is how passive it is. Most of the time you%26rsquo;re just driving along, watching the trees and motels go by, trying not to drift into the fast lane. There%26rsquo;s some vague motorway AI: vehicles cruising, braking and speeding up as necessary. It%26rsquo;s simplistic (no one really overtakes or anything) but it provides a tangible-enough impression of traveling on the American interstate: you try not to crash, and occasionally irate road-users will honk at you when you cut them off.
It%26rsquo;s mildly mesmeric. A kind of sideways escapism. Rather than disappearing off into some lofty fantasy world you%26rsquo;re doing something that%26rsquo;s absolutely everyday to thousands of Americans. The only real danger is that you%26rsquo;ll forget to get weighed-in at the appropriate junctions and lose your license. We%26rsquo;d like to have seen more impressive rendering of the incredible geography of the continent, but nevertheless: 18 Wheels of Steel, you are weird and brave. We salute you.
Apr 9, 2008