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Game Profile
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-2
February 19, 2002
18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker

18-Wheeler: American Pro Trucker

 Written by Jonathan Nicklas  on October 23, 2002

Full Review: ?That's a big 10-4, good buddy! Indeed I do have a whole lot of ass?ets to haul.?

Coming straight from the arcades, 18-Wheeler American Pro Trucker is exactly what you've come to expect. The game is a short-lived experience, and comes off as painfully average in the end. With that said, there's still a lot it has to offer, at least in the short run.

Obviously, the bones of the game lie within the arcade mode. You'll have the opportunity to ship cargo in an 18 wheel truck across four stages while dealing with your nemesis that goes by the name of Lizard Tail. Fortunately for us, the game burns rubber with interactive environments that thankfully packs a powerful punch of busy surroundings and little subtleties that are spread around evenly. With the addition of some variation the second time through with clever shortcuts, the game isn't bad. The sense of velocity is well conveyed and it's fun to fall in awe to the distant landscapes. However, with only four stages to its credit, it's not hard to put the controller down when the show's over.

Graphically speaking, 18-Wheeler packs the goods. The trucks themselves feature every little detail down to swinging dice and glass transparency perfectly complementing the windshield. On the other hand, the environments also stretch far and beyond with nice details. In the final stage, the transitional lighting is also impressive and off-road racing also leaves some tire marks. In addition, the game runs like a dream without any frame-rate hitch, and is sturdy as can be. However, in the end, the game falls a bit flat and doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

Aurally speaking, the game offers fairly average tunes to hum along with, but nothing is overly impressive. The music adds some lighthearted humor to the mix, while truck engines are ever present and are complemented by voiceovers that will pull a few feathers. Like any other title, the lack of character development leaves a lot to be desired, and the five selectable characters aren't much different.

Controlling the trucks is a blast, and for those sharp-witted, the first-person mode offers a challenge to behold. Controls are tight and as responsive as one would suspect an 18 wheel truck to be. R accelerates and L brakes, which works perfectly with the analog buttons. Otherwise, A shifts gears, B reverses, and X changes view. It's all very intuitive and it comes in handy. Perhaps the most impressive tactic is the ?slip stream' speed boost that occurs when you position a truck directly behind another resulting in less wind resistance. It's a nice touch.

Fortunately, the game does sport some mini-games such as parking and collecting points in score attack. Parking is fairly straightforward and consists of navigating through treacherous curves and turns to a designated parking area. Conversely, score attack pits players in three laps to rack up as many points as possible. You can suit up with different cargo to sweeten the deal as well. Finally, there is the ever popular multiplayer component, which is limited to two players. However, it's a blast and adds some much-needed value.

Bottom Line
So here's the deal. AM2 set out to deliver a direct port fresh from the leftovers of the back alley arcades, and they've succeeded. However, without any redeemable qualities for a long-term investment, 18 Wheeler is merely a short adventure that was ultimately always destined for the arcades only. Nevertheless, for a rental, you really can't go wrong.

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