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18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker Review
game: 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker
two star
posted by: Jason Frank
publisher: Acclaim
date posted: 09:10 AM Wed May 15th, 2002
last revision: 06:56 AM Fri Sep 23rd, 2005

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I found Eighteen Wheeler: American Pro Trucker so tedious (a curious thing since it is so incredibly short) that I had to make up stories in my head about why I was a long haul trucker in order to keep me interested long enough to play through a level of this monotonous game. There just wasn\'t enough happening on the screen to keep my interest piqued. I would fabricate elaborate tales about the kind of cargo I was hauling, or I would construct a narrative that centered around my longing for my rarely seen family. It\'s pretty sad when the gamer has to make the game interesting with his or her imagination because the designers couldn\'t be bothered to do so.

When did games get this mundane? What ever happened to the adventure and intrigue? How did we get from saving the world to getting our delivery in on time? I worry that our games could become so much like our work that we have to work at playing them. Reviewing games can really feel like a job sometimes, but playing this game will feel like a job all of the time. Sure, there\'s a little bit of destructive mayhem along the way, but it\'s not enough to really make it an adventure. Where are all of the \"Smokeys\" out there to put me in my place? Where\'s the urgency?

The best way that I can describe this game is to have you think of Crazy Taxi but with an 18 Wheeler and absolutely none of the fun. It\'s your job to haul cargo from one coast to another in extremely short little bursts of road. Looking at the description on the back of the box, I have to admit that I was a little intrigued by the promise of long stretches of highway, but I soon discovered that video game interstates only come in 3-4 mile sections.

The graphics on this game are less that impressive. On the Dreamcast these graphics would have been disappointing. On the Gamecube, the graphics are nothing short of insulting. The framerate is acceptable, but the amount of draw in that occurs really goes a long way towards destroying any illusion of endless vistas.

Gameplay is incredibly simple. You essentially hit the gas and shift between three gears: low, high and reverse. One of the most challenging aspects of commanding an eighteen-wheeler is shifting between all of the gears. Talk to any trucker and you see that good gear shifting can be an art. I would have liked to see some of that challenge mirrored on the Gamecube. Granted, this is an arcade port, but they really could have done something to up the complexity of the game.

The controls are simplistic and uninvolved: gas, shift, brake, and horn if you\'re really bored. You are able to gain a little speed in the game by slipping into the slipstream of another truck, but aside from that, you hold the pedal to the floor and avoid as many objects as possible.

Pro Trucker seeks to really ramp up the fun by not only having you haul cargo across the country, but also by letting you work on parking your big rig. I don\'t know how long I\'ve yearned for a game where I get to park for fun.

The game is incredibly short and unfulfilling. Playing through this game feels like two bits well spent--not fifty bucks, or even five bucks for a rental. I had heard that the game was short, but I wasn\'t prepared to drive from coast to coast in under ten minutes. I kid you not; there are four main levels that supposedly take you across the country, which last less than two minutes a piece. I raced tracks in Mario Kart that were longer. I\'ve not actually seen the arcade version of the game, but I hear that it\'s quite an impressive simulation of the big rig experience. Unfortunately, none of that experience translates to the Gamecube.

Look, it\'s a competitive market out there, even on the Gamecube, and there\'s not a lot to recommend about American Pro Trucker. It\'s too short to justify a purchase even if you\'re crazy about driving games, and there are more appealing games for rent-The Simpsons Road Rage and Crazy Taxi offer a similar arcade driving experience of significantly higher quality, and that\'s where I\'d put my money first.