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Game Profile
PlayStation 2
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 13, 2001
18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker

18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker

 Written by Chris Reiter  on January 10, 2002

Full Review: Truckin' on the PlayStation 2...yep.

Ever since Sega started their third party venture into the gaming industry, Acclaim had made a deal with the company to port over a select number of the Dreamcast's titles. One of those games was an interesting one about 18-Wheeler rig racing. The game itself has already appeared on the Dreamcast, and in the arcades. And now, the port is on the PlayStation 2 as well. So strap on your belt, check your cargo, and rev up your gears, because PlayStation 2 owners can now become real American truckers in the arcade port of 18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker!

Amongst four selectable players, and through four selectable player modes, as a trucker, it's your job to earn money by toughing it out on busy roads across the United States, from New York to San Francisco. 18-Wheeler gives the player an Arcade mode where you need to beat the clock in time by going up against traffic and even a rival truck that'll stop at nothing to slow you down from completing the race. Icons for gear shifting and turns appear on screen during this mode, which determines when you need to press the button to shift the gear up or down (allows the truck to go faster downhill, uphill, and along flatland quicker). Sign icons tell you when a turn is up ahead. To beat the rival to the finish, sometimes a different path is a better choice, rather than just tailing him through the whole race. Arcade mode is quite challenging, since you need to be fast enough, tough enough, and an overall good driver in order to dodge upcoming cars, trucks, and even buildings that lie in harm's way. Parking mode nudges the player to park any of the trucks in an allotted time frame for each parking job while inside a giant parking lot. Basically, if you can park your truck in all of the parking sections in the given amount of time, you'll win.

The other two demanding modes are Score Attack, which lets you drive around in three laps amongst four selectable courses, where you can test yourself to earn money while carrying various cargo; like logs, cars, or even fuel, and dodging oncoming cars and trucks. The heavier the load, the more money you'll receive. The last mode -- Versus -- lets you compete with a friend across the highway to find out who is the better trucker in a race to the finish. Even with all of the four primary modes of gameplay, there still isn't enough variety in the game for it to last long enough, which is rather a big turn off to the overall replay value of 18-Wheeler.

Controlling the giant trucks through the assortment of gameplay features is fairly good, since you actually feel like you're behind the wheel of a massive truck. Still, there are problems that remain within the gameplay, mainly because you are slow; the demand of the hectic gameplay always persists with continuous problems. For example, in the Arcade mode, you are challenged to a rival AI. During the race, you're given a time limit, in which you must both beat the clock, and the AI together. And on top of that, the gameplay also forces you to switch gears as you would in a real life truck of immense size. Braking and going in reverse are just the other features your truck can master. If you're unable to reach the checkpoint before time's up, or reach the finish before the rival, you'll lose money. Within the races, though, there are bonus cars that you can smash into, giving you an extra few seconds on the clock. All together, however, it's just too complicated of a gameplay system for anyone to just pickup and play the game for a first time. This is one of those types of racing titles that require an extensive amount of practice before you can start the main gameplay attraction, because the truck controls are a bit confusing.

However, not all the trucks in the game are the same. Each of 18 Wheeler's four playable trucks moves slow paced in their own right. But, with each vehicle comes a different status that gives the player the knowledge of how and of whom to choose, and to know who is best. The drivers range from some that are slow, and tougher than the rest, and others that are fast, but weaker in contrast. Being a weaker truck means you have less resistance to slamming into objects ahead, for example. Just like there is four playable modes, with four characters only, there isn't many drivers to choose form, which is another letdown in the game's main gameplay component.

Looking at 18-Wheeler on screen is visually close to the original from the arcade. The trucks themselves and the roads around you aren't what I'd call terrific or above anything else that's pushing the PlayStation 2's graphic abilities. Although, the graphics of the game aren't all that bad, considering there are a few things that are fairly good. Certain times the game does get interesting with tiny trinkets thrown in, where you'll see a whirlwind rise up from out of nowhere on the road, and pull everything in with it, leaving cars to block your driving path. Dirt even builds up from being unearthed underneath of your truck's tires. And even when your top half of the truck smashes through an enclosed bridge roof, the animation effect of where exactly the truck hits and matches up correctly is pretty cool. While these short instances are decent, the graphics of 18-Wheeler aren't impressive enough to title the game a must have.

Last of all, the sound quality of the game gets redundant quickly. A Texan male voice that appears constantly throughout the game whenever you select your truck, or wait for the instructions to switch gears during gameplay is rather annoying, and becomes bothersome too quickly. The in-game music and sound effects fare better, but again aren't too glamorous. Crashing, moving, and even switching the gears of the truck sound like they should, and are all done well to fit the game sound effects just right. And the music is a rocking, southern beat that repeats itself over and over, and again, isn't too great of a track, even though the music is just right for this type of trucker game.

Bottom Line
If you're in the mood for a racing game on the PlayStation 2, American Pro Trucker isn't really the best of racing titles to choose from for a home console. But, if you have played and enjoyed the original in the arcades, and you do own a PlayStation 2, then you might find that owning the title will suit your fancy like it did once before. However, with very little replay value, and with very little initiative play value for even a first time through experiencing the game, 18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker is better off as a rental title that should be passed by if you're looking to purchase a game without even glancing back on it once.

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