PUBLISHER: SCS Software
DEVELOPER: SCS Software
RELEASED: December 13th, 2017
Disclaimer: A Steam code was provided by the developer/publisher for review purposes on PC.
I love playing Euro Truck Simulator 2, but I’ll admit that there have been quite a few moments where I ended up falling asleep at the virtual wheel, only to be woken up by my controller vibrating due to a violent crash. It’s times like that where I’m really happy this is just a simulator and not real life. Now don’t judge me, this game is just that relaxing. That’s why the new Special Transport DLC happens to be so interesting: it makes things a lot more challenging.
The core formula of Euro Truck Simulator 2 and American Truck Simulator emphasizes the need to be a safe and responsible driver as you’re often penalized for making any mistakes. Whether that be running a red light, bumping into other vehicles, or driving on the wrong side of the road, the game is quick to throw a fine at you for violating those real-life traffic laws. I’ll admit that sometimes I’ve been a bit impatient with the AI drivers and ended up driving a bit too crazy, but I always end up paying for it…literally. It’s even more annoying to get a fine than it is to yell at the other virtual drivers for cutting me off. If you can relate to any of these experiences, then prepare to shake things up with the Special Transport DLC.
I already mentioned how the game focuses on safe and professional driving, but the ST DLC cranks everything up to 11. The name ‘Special Transport’ isn’t just for show; each piece of cargo is much more intimidating than anything else in the game. By that, I mean that they’re all huge. I was utterly shocked when I tried my first delivery, only to see that the cargo was actually bigger than my truck! These things are so big; they’re carried using special blue-colored trailers which are more complex and larger than the standard set. The real icing on the cake is that each delivery is treated like some major event. When you start a Special Transport job, you’ll be greeted with a short cutscene which pans across your truck and the special cargo trailer. NPCs are everywhere; officials are preparing the trailer, while onlookers stand on the sidelines taking pictures and there are even news reporters giving a live presentation of your delivery. It doesn’t stop there, though—you’re also going to be escorted through the entire delivery.
The escorts are what really set the Special Transport deliveries apart from the standard ones, in addition to the massive size of the cargo. There are two specially-marked vans that make-up your escort. One drives in front of you while the other takes the rear. The real purpose of these vehicles is to control the traffic flow around you and the special cargo throughout your journey. For instance, as you drive along, the front vehicle will always force incoming traffic to slow down and move over further into their lane due to the large size of the special cargo. Seriously, the width of these things is just massive. Thus, being careful is pretty much mandatory when handling these missions. In fact, there are a lot of rules to follow.
Police escorts. Cutscenes. Exclusive trailers. Very strict rules.
These Special Transports really are quite ‘special’ and offer an interesting new experience compared to the core game.
Each Special Transport delivery requires you to follow a specific route that you cannot deviate from at all. On top of that, you cannot stop at any time for anything like rest stops or gas stations (your fuel and fatigue levels are topped off at the beginning of the mission and stay frozen until the end). Most of the time you have the right of way, so you don’t even have to stop at stop lights and stop signs. In fact, in addition to the escort vehicles controlling traffic around you, there are also police vehicles positioned at every intersection along your journey which will completely freeze traffic until you pass along. Ultimately, your goal is simply to get from point A to point B without stopping and making sure that the special cargo remains unharmed. Following all of these rules is essential to completing the mission, as the game will outright fail you if you step out of line. Your freedom is totally revoked when playing these missions and that’s what makes them so cool.
So, what exactly are these pieces of cargo that are so ‘special’ that they call for police escorts, and even grab the attention of onlookers and news reporters? There are 11 cargoes in all, which consist of things like giant tires, a pilot boat, a grain silo, and special giant high-tech device (a satellite, maybe?), just to name a few. Each piece of cargo is different in terms of height, weight, and width, so you’ll be forced to alter your driving style depending on what you’re delivering. Still, the primary goal is to make sure you complete the job safely and quickly. I never found the time limits to be constraining, so that was never an issue. Really, the only thing I was ever worried about was not bumping into anything. The one time I nearly messed up was when I was trying to get up an incline that led onto the highway, only to be pulled right back down the road due to the massive weight of the cargo. The physics system of Euro Truck Simulator 2 was really put on display here. I spent about 10-15 minutes going back and forth up that hill, only to just give up and quickly reload from an autosave where I was able to come onto the incline a whole lot faster, yet still barely managed to make it to the top. Speaking of which, the game autosaves very often during the Special Transport missions, most likely to make things easier for the player since everything is a lot more challenging than a standard delivery.
— THE BOTTOM LINE —
Big cargo. Big challenge. Big responsibility.
All-in-all, the Special Transport DLC is a really cool addition to the game. It offers a pretty different experience than the standard content, and despite it being very strict and challenging, that’s actually what makes it fun. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this review, there have been several times when I’ve fallen asleep while making normal deliveries. The ST DLC hardly ever let me blink, let alone be relaxed enough to go to sleep, and that’s why I like it so much. Really, the only thing I didn’t like was that these special missions are only available in select cities that are in the base game and some of the DLC maps (with more routes to the DLC maps coming later). So, you’ll have to either drive or teleport (teleportation is a cheat) to the specific cities in order to access these special jobs (which are clearly marked with red-&-white warning bars). On top of that, some cargoes spawn more often than others. But even so, these are very minor issues. Overall, this is a really fun DLC pack, and for only a measly $5, I’d highly recommend you give it a try if you’re looking for a challenge.