Bus Simulator Review – Speedtraps, Pedestrians, and Potholes, Oh My

We spent the weekend setting up our own busing company and running it ragged in Still Alive Studios’ Bus Simulator. Is it worth the fare or should you just call an Uber?

Read on to find out

Still Alive Studios released Bus Simulator 16 back in 2016 and missed the mark in graphics, AI intelligence, and overall game management. After a few patches, the game did finally evolve into a much better experience, but that initial release soured a lot of gamers to the series and the title never really took off. Fast forward 2 years and the developer seems to have learned from their past mistakes and, with the release of Bus Simulator 18, have created a much more in depth simulator, with improved graphics, smarter AI, and a company management system that will help you grow your busing company. With the console release of Bus Simulator, you get the base game plus all of the DLC that has been released for it on the PC.

Edwards Bus Company

The game starts you out on a trial run with one bus and one route. Complete that route successfully and you’ll be given a contract to run the city’s transit system. Through this contract, you’ll be able to earn more and more in-game currency so that you can purchase more buses and hire drivers. You’ll then create routes as requested, and upon completion of assigned tasks, you’ll unlock more and more areas that need access to your bus line. It’s a pretty intuitive system that will help you to grow your busing company to a pretty high level, earning enough money along the way to buy better and better vehicles.

Build your Business

There’s two distinct types of gameplay with this title. You have the company management aspect and then the actual bus driving aspect. Company management consists of buying buses, customizing them, and hiring drivers to actually drive them around. The application process for drivers is pretty straightforward and some of these applications make the candidate out to be an awful choice. That does make the hiring process easier and more entertaining, though. Once hired and assigned to a route, they gain experience over time and earn more and more money for you, but their salary also goes up. Might be a good idea to have a high turn-over rate to save some bucks early on, but is that really a good idea in the long run? Probably not.

Once more areas become unlocked, you’ll be able to create more bus routes connecting the stops in those areas to stops in areas you already have access to. The game does a good job of teaching you the processes required, as there is a little bit of hand holding early on in the on-boarding experience, and that’s not a bad thing. It didn’t take us too long to get the hang of it, and we were creating routes and assigning buses and drivers like a pro in short order.

Hit the Road

The driving aspect of the game isn’t as simple as driving from bus stop to bus stop. You’ll find that the environment you are driving in is very much alive with other vehicles and pedestrians. The vehicles are usually easy to spot, but anytime you see a crosswalk up ahead, be sure to check the sidewalks for folks that may decide to cross at the last second. These folks don’t seem to care if a big ‘ol bus is coming, if they want to cross the street, they will, and may end up getting hit by you. Running over a pedestrian will cost you €20K, and probably that pedestrian’s life, but it’s the €20K that hurts the most (is that bad?). You can abort the drive to avoid that penalty ( and save the pedestrian?), but you’ll lose the time you spent since you started that particular drive.

Not only do you have to worry about pedestrians, but there’s a clock ticking on each route and speedtraps, potholes, and speed bumps are scattered around that you’ll need to slow down for. Speed bumps and potholes will just cost you on your overall rating on your trip, but those speedtraps can cost you some bucks. You do have a speed limiter for in-town routes, but those trips on the highway may cost you if you don’t watch your speed.You’ll also need to observe traffic laws like using turn signals, stopping at red lights, and yielding the right of way as required. Collisions are costly as well.

Buses are Big

Keep in mind that these aren’t race cars you’re driving. They are fully functioning transit buses, with all the bells and whistles that come with. When approaching a bus stop, you’ll have to use your turn signal, enter the bus lane, and stop in the appropriate spot, at the correct distance to the curb. If you have never driven a bus or a large vehicle before, you’ll probably bounce off of a few curbs before you realize that you’ll need extra room for turning. Same thing goes for pulling into a bus stop. Give yourself the proper room to get in and out of the lane, all the while using the proper turn signals.

Once parked properly, you’ll need to open the bus doors, maybe release the disabled ramp, and allow folks to start boarding. Some folks have tickets, some don’t, and some lie. You can sell tickets to those that need them using the ticket machine and you can confront folks if you think they don’t have a ticket. Some of these folks are slobs and have no respect for your bus, and you’ll have to clean up after them in order to keep your other customers happy. Some of these folks are just plain rude and like to play loud music, disrupting the tranquil bus ride, and if you don’t confront them, you’ll lose out on your star rating.

The map for the game is pretty big, and you can expect to spend a lot of time driving from stop to stop on your routes that connect different areas. The buses them selves are eight carefully replicated bus models by Mercedes-Benz, Setra, MAN and IVECO BUS, including maneuverable city buses, comfortable county buses and extra-long articulated buses.

Astragon Entertainment’s and Stillalive Studios’ Bus Simulator is a fun and entertaining game that will make any sim enthusiast happy. With impressive graphics, deep company management, and what feels like a real transit experience, they created a sequel that far surpasses its predecessor.

8


Bus Simulator review code provided by publisher and reviewed on a PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read What our review scores really mean.