FIA European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) puts you at the wheel of some of the biggest vehicles in motorsport. Officially licenced, the game features all of the trucks, drivers and circuits from the real world series.
Taking on these beasts is a whole new race compared to the likes of your standard super car racers out there, One of the series’ main aspects makes it into the game, that being keeping your brakes cool. As you can imagine, stopping a truck that’s hitting 160 KMH is going to cause immense heating of the brakes, the solution? Spray water on them as you race. You have an on board water tank that, with a simple press of the B button will spray water on to your brakes, cooling them down. Not doing so will cause them to overheat and fail. A nice little extra challenge to keep in check while banging doors with other trucks.
The driving while not perfect, is great. You do get a sense of the trucks pulling away, and feeling a little twitchy cornering at high speeds, and I love the bounce and sway of the cab. There’s no feel for the track surface, force feedback is minimal, unless you touch a curb, even then the rumble is only slight. Other than that though I feel the trucks handle well.
There’s all the usual offering that you would expect from a racing title, with two career mode options that can be run simultaneously, quick races, custom championships, time trials, a yet to be activated weekly event and multiplayer.
The two career modes consist of the FIA ETRC, and a made up World Series. The ETRC Consists of the official drivers trucks and circuits, while the World Series features trucks from different series around the world that race on completely different circuits to the ETRC. As mentioned previously, you can take on both careers simultaneously, a big plus from me for this as other racers that feature multiple career modes tend to make you choose one or the other.
Starting out, you have to complete your licence before you can take part in the next season. The licence consists of 12 mini tests with a gold, silver or bronze medals to achieve, Very reminiscent of Gran Turismo. Completing all 12 will grant you access to race, with your first season starting you out as a freelance driver, picking up weekend only contracts, with better offers coming in as you gain more reputation.
The game opens up more once you complete your first season, as not only are you offered a full season contract, but also handed the responsibility of paying for repairs and upgrades to your truck. However, my playthrough seems to be bugged where I’m winning races, seeing the credits amount at the end of race screen, but not being credited, meaning no upgrades or repairs for me, essentially game breaking if a truck is heavily damaged.
The AI are a bit hit and miss too, they’re aggressive, and like to exchange paint quite alot, though if you’ve ever seen a real life ETRC race then you’ll know this is pretty accurate. They’re not on rails either which is a good thing, and will make mistakes, running wide, or crashing with other trucks. There are a few issues that need addressing with them though, mainly the path-finding, it seems a bit off, you’ll see them weaving about the track when racing down a straight, and I’ve even seen them come to a complete stop in the middle of the track for no apparent reason.
There’s lots of options to cater for different skill levels such as AI difficulty, turning the brake cooling on/off and penalty system, the latter is implemented well, with warnings issued for colliding with other drivers, corner cutting and hitting track limit bollards. Do this too often and you’ll be handed a time and or drive-through penalty. It can be frustrating though, one moment of note the AI driver infront of me had touched the grass, losing control, and as I was passing it came straight back on hitting me side-on, but I was given a time penalty.. this happened on a few occaisions, with this particular one 100% being fault of the AI, definitely needs addressing.
I can’t comment on multiplayer as of yet I’ve not seen any lobbies online and there’s only so long you can sit there with a lobby of your own open with nobody joining. Maybe this will pick up once the game is released worldwide.
Visually the game is a mixed bag, with the trucks being well modelled and detailed, but the tracks and surrounding looking very dated, with lots of ‘jaggies’ to be seen. Visual damage is also very generic. The audio is also not all that great, the trucks sound ok, and you have a pit crew member in your ear that only spouts a few lines, usually telling you to watch your brakes, very repetitive. Improvements for future titles should include an updated game engine, more variety in the VO, possibly adding some pre and post race commentary.