Bus Driver

Format: PC
Excalibur Publishing

5 060020 473067
Age Restrictions: 3+
02 November 2007

Bus Driver, your job is to transport passengers around a city. You must drive to a timetable on a planned route, whilst obeying traffic rules, and taking care not to upset or injure your passengers. This makes Bus Driver unlike any other driving game - the experience of driving a bus is very different from blazing through a racing circuit. There are 12 different kinds of buses to drive, an expansive city environment with various districts, and 30 routes with varying weather conditions set at differing times of day...

Bus Driver puts the player in the driving seat of twelve different buses, each inspired by real life buses in use around the world. These include: London double deckers, American-style school buses and European low-floor city buses. As you manoeuvre each of them around the city you'll need to keep to planned routes and to within the restrictions of a very busy timetable.

You'll start to learn the basics of professional driving by obeying the Highway Code and treating your passengers' safety as an absolute priority. Unlike other driving games, Bus Driver's focus is on securing the well being of your passengers at all times and on the reliability of the service you provide. You drive around an expansive city environment featuring different suburbs and districts. Each one contains varying styles including modern, old town, residential suburbs, an airport and the local harbour. There are 30 routes to negotiate which are staged over five tiered levels of increasing difficulty.

Multiple duties include driving a school bus, transporting tourists and sightseers. There are varying weather conditions and each mission is set at various times throughout the day.

There are a number of things that let this game down - which is a shame, because with a little more attention to detail this could have been an instant classic. Firstly, as this is a simulation game, it's an absolute crime that you have no option to change the view so that you are actually sitting behind the wheel. Instead the camera is situated behind the bus for the entire game - which makes it difficult to see many obstructions and the traffic lights until it's too late.

It's also odd that you have to have a decent spec machine to run this. The graphics are nothing special and there's not much traffic on the road. Microsoft Flight Simulator this isn't - so what on earth eats up the memory? On all but the highest spec machine we found the action to lag noticeably, which is extremely annoying.

Then there's the slight problem that you are awarded points when you do the wrong thing. An example of this is when you have to turn right at the traffic lights. Unless you are crawling you will swerve across into the oncoming traffic. But you don't get penalised for this. It's not a problem to get back on the right side of the road either - there are hardly any other vehicles on the road. Yes, it appears this game is set after a nuclear holocaust as the London streets are eerily deserted.

Oh, and while we are on the subject of London streets... why bother to set it in London, with real London districts and bus stations? In this London everyone drives on the right hand side. Yes, I know that most nations that will play this game will be driving on the right, so why not set it in America or some European city other than London? Oh, and did I mention that this London is far removed from the gridlocked capital we all know and love? Yes, well I think it's worth mentioning again. If the streets had been busier this would have also provided an extra challenge to the game as you try and arrive at each bus stop on time.

Another issue I had was the fact that the game doesn't actually seem to get that much harder as you go along. As long as you complete the route the computer accepts that as a pass. So, pass a set number of routes and the next level is opened. It's not really what I'd call challenging. The end result is that you'll be onto the fifth, and final, level before you know it. And, if you want to increase your score, simply keep indicating and switching lane for no reason. You don't get penalised for swapping lanes every two seconds and causing a potential hazard. As long as you indicate you are rewarded for it.

And finally, none of the PC compatible steering wheels we tried worked with this game - which is another huge let down.

If only these issues had been ironed out before the game had been released. As it stands I'm sorry to say that I really can't recommend this game. It's a hairsbreadth away from being a good game too.

Nick Smithson

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