The title says it all. Apologies if you were expecting a riveting set of bus-themed missions ripped from a Keanu Reeves movie, but Bus Driver really is about driving a bus. Follow predetermined routes and timetables; stop at red lights and bus kiosks; signal lane changes; and open and close your doors at the right time. Do it properly and you earn points. Do it appallingly and you still earn points, just not as many.
Created by Czech developer SCS Software, Bus Driver is a mundane procedural exercise in urban public transportation (and if that sounds like fun to you, I doubt we’ll ever party together). The game features 12 different bus styles, from traditional school buses to double-deckers, and a fictionalized multi-district city backdrop in which to maneuver them. The core gameplay premise compels you to complete 30 different routes over five unlockable tiers, with “missions” ranging from inner-city passenger pick-ups to a helicopter-chaperoned prisoner transport (which sounds intriguing, but is actually no more entertaining than a gridlocked McDonald’s drive-through).
This oftentimes sleep-inducing airbrake test isn’t all that’s wrong with the game (after all, PC flight and train sims can be similarly route-constrained). It’s when you add blocky, dated graphics - circa 1998’s Carmageddon 2 - and some aggravatingly slow AI traffic (40 mph feels like light speed) that Bus Driver really blows a tire. Also, the fixed rear chase view and overhead information bar often block your forward line-of-sight, traffic lights rarely stay green more than a few seconds, overbraking upsets the passengers and loses you points (not as fun as it sounds), and no amount of bad driving can damage or overturn the bus. Getting from Point A to Point B doesn’t get any more wearisome.
PC Gamer scores games on a percentage scale, which is rounded to the closest whole number to determine the GamesRadar score.
PCG Final Verdict: 42% (Tolerable)
May 30, 2008