copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

Car Mechanic Simulator 2014

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Impact: shallow

Car Mechanic Simulator has a neat premise that I have not seen explored before. Many people like to tinker with machinery, be it computers, cars or rockets, and this game makes tinkering with cars accessible to the average person, without requiring them to dirty their hands or get a degree.

However, the problem is that not enough effort is put into the execution. Everything is too simplistic and shallow and some features are hardly useful at all.

After a brief tutorial you just start accepting repair orders, one car at a time. Each time you are given a paper explaining what the client wants you do to the car. You inspect the condition of parts, you click to unscrew the bolts of the parts you need to remove, you order new parts from the computer or repair the existing ones and then you put them back in the car. Done.

There are a few other things you can do, like replace oil or test suspension but the replacement of parts is pretty much the main game. Unscrew, replace, repeat.

Occasionally you need to test-drive the cars, but this is a completely useless feature. You drive on this one small ugly test course, and whatever the car's mechanical problem may be, at the time of writing this review it seems to have no effect on the car's performance! I cannot tell if this is lazy game development or a bug.

When you try to repair a part sometimes it works, but most of the time the device tells you that you don't have any repairable parts. There is no explanation as to what can or cannot be repaired, and again, it is hard to tell if this is just a poorly executed feature or if the repairing mechanic is broken.

The amount of parts you get to work with in any car is quite limited. Additionally, the difference between the insides of different cars is negligible. So far, I have only seen the engine and the wheels change somewhat. What little does change seems to only change per type of car and not per car. This is really lazy, guys.

So do not expect to be replacing some small overstressed screw somewhere or repairing a crack in the windshield. This game does not go that deep.

But if you know almost nothing about cars, this game does teach a thing or two about the components so there is some educational value to it.

There are a few other features. There is a basic skill leveling system that allows you to detect broken parts faster or buy parts cheaper. You can also supposedly expand your garage and get a bank loan if you get low on cash, but again, neither of those features are very well executed. I have never needed a loan so far and I have yet to discover how to buy a new garage. I presume the one is needed for the other, but none of it is explained!

There is something interesting about this game. Getting an objective, finding the part and quickly moving onto the next job, after stamping "repaired" on the repair order form is kind of satisfying. And I must admit that this game has been a guilty pleasure.

I would, however, only recommend this game if it is on sale. The current price of 20 Euros is a bit too steep. And I only recommend it if you really don't know much about cars or if you have a kid who is into mechanical stuff. The only thing this game really has going for it is its uniqueness, which is a shame because an in-depth car mechanic simulator would make for an interesting game or a good educational tool. This is not quite it.