For a long time I've wanted a driving game where I can just drive. Not race, or rally, or do silly little street races; just get in a drive - clock up the kilometers on the road and let my mind wander to other things. Off the bat though, I should admit I am a fan of driving. Just getting in the car in real life and going for a drive for an hour or three or more. If you're in the right mood, driving is relaxing. You can play your favourite songs and just enjoy the physicality of turning the wheel, pushing the brake, accelerator, clutch, and changing gears - all to create a smooth, consistent, almost rhythmic zen state with the black stuff.
The starting premise of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is simple, you know how to drive big rigs, you obviously like driving, and you aspire to own and work in your own trucking company. As you buckle up for your first job you're shown your shabby tin shed garage and told of your lack of ownership of the diesel destroyers of road. But that's ok. You know how to drive and there are plenty of trucking companies offering contract driving gigs from and to the locations of your choice.
ETS2 isn't a full blown simulator. It won't take you 3 hours to transport your load from Dover to Calais, longer if you take the Ferry. English channel journeys are fast forwarded, with your truck either being floated across or travelling subterrainean. From my own investigates the world seems to zip by at about 1 kilometer per 2 or so seconds, even though the impression of speed is still accurate. I guess even I would find sitting on a 80km stretch of highway boring in realtime. There are some nice scenery to look at on the way though, especially if you're not native to Europe. I haven't driven much through mainlaind Europe but I have enjoyed the white cliffs of Dover in England and it's mainland tunnel exit, Calias.
The attention to detail is pretty good too. I love driving in the rain and the rain effects. The noise on windscreen and the noise of my wipers is soothing, as it is in real life wet weather cruising. Just remember to turn your lights on or you'll have to pay $150. Another thing I found out. And pay attention to your fatigue levels. You'll get fined pretty heavily for missing then. And the fines will keep coming until you find an appropriate place to pull over and rest.
I liked the levels of traffic on the highway. There were enough cars to keep me interested but not too many that I felt I was driving in peak hour (though I do hope that does happen!). I've read the game also has real life landmarks. I've not bean to the channel tunnel entrance but a quick look at google images results tells me that it looks the same in game as it does in real life. cool! :)
ETS2 makes use of Internet radio streams in game. You can select (via the menu) the stream you want, from hundreds, or add your own, and listen to the real radio while you clock up the miles.
Getting technical, the game completely supported my combination of G27 wheel and Fanatec Clubsport pedals. Before playing I wondered how it would handle truck gearboxes having more than 6 gears. It handles it quite elegantly, using a user-designated button to shift between the two ranges 1-6 and 7-12. There are also two more gear range styles, but this works well enough in my opinion. Generally 1-6 is good for navigating tight turns in the city, but once you get about 25 mph you're going to need 7th and beyond. By mapping my range selection button to button 0 on my G27 H-shifter (the first button on the left) I was able to quickly bump that button when I desired to move between the ranges.
The game also works well with SoftTH and triple screens, better than many other driving games out there, and second only to iRacing. Although it does annoyingly seem to require changing back to 1920x1200 and then to my widescreen res each time I start the game. But that's no biggie for the joy of triple screens.
I really do enjoy the game, and did from the first 5 minutes. While driving in game I thought of another component of real life trucking, communications with other drivers. This is missing from this game. Yes, I realise this is a single player game and therefore implementing this would be quite difficult, though it could still work in a single player environment. I'd like to be able to jump on my simulated CB radio and talk to other trucks, or at least listen. I have a few friends who would enjoy this game, and I think being able to drive through the game while chatting to your mates who are doing the same would be awesome. So would be a MMO or multiplayer option, where me and my friends all work for the same trucking company.