The 18 Wheels of Steel series has come a long way since its humble beginnings back in 2002. Tagged as Hard Truck: 18 Wheels of Steel (which was a sequel to Hard Truck 2: King of the Road), it was the first that used the Wheels of Steel tag name as the game play differs completely from racing trucks delivering goods. Since then, there were another four instalments where, besides the graphical enhancements, many changes were made like Mexico being left out then arrived back, sleep timer comes and goes and so on. It seems that every game after the first, developers ValuSoft couldn’t make up their minds what to leave out or to use. Well, the sixth game in the series, 18 Wheels of Steel: American Long Haul, it seems ValuSoft finally made up their minds and just chuck everything in from all the previous series thus making this game the ‘final copy’. And it certainly shows as this simulator will be the closest you ever get other than driving the real thing.
So my real purpose for playing this game is for the love of driving. America / Canada and bits of Mexico has a diverse range of landscapes to discover and thankfully, the game’s visual aspects is quite decent. Nothing ground breaking however still pleasant to look at. In addition to the pretty decent physics, you have a good feel driving around with a massive haul trailing behind. For instance, delivering glass was pretty easy going however when I delivered those oversize tubes through the Rocky Mountains (i.e. from Calgary to Vancouver), with snow smashing on my windscreen, it got my adrenaline running as I need to be very careful dodging traffic as well as ensuring my truck doesn’t tip over. And because you can play your own music using the truck’s radio player, it’s a great experience to have (yet the music needs to be on .ogg format).
So whilst the game’s intent is to build an empire, I felt it failed in that respect as there’s no competition at all. You can sit back, relax and listen to your radio channel whilst having the cash rolling in. Granted, the beginning is quite rough as you need to do some real repetitive jobs (X – Beyond the Frontier anyone?) however once you have the money to buy another truck, trailer and hire additional helpers, the game’s difficulty level gets a lot easier. However, if you, like me, like to drive the open world and seeing vast landscapes, you will enjoy this game as America is a pretty country to see. With its majestic mountain ranges, endless deserts, Great Plains and of course, bustling cities, developers Valusoft chose the correct country to display all of this. However, because it also plays on as a business simulation, it missed the mark.
8 / 10