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’ve got a big blue truck and a delivery that needs to be in Las Vegas, like, yesterday. There’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’s most impressive about the road-travel is how passive it is. Most of the time you’re just driving along, watching the trees and motels go by, trying not to drift into the fast lane. There’s some vague motorway AI: vehicles cruising, braking and speeding up as necessary. It’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’s mildly mesmeric. A kind of sideways escapism. Rather than disappearing off into some lofty fantasy world you’re doing something that’s absolutely everyday to thousands of Americans. The only real danger is that you’ll forget to get weighed-in at the appropriate junctions and lose your license. We’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