Simula Games’ Truck and Logistics Simulator just came out of Early Access over on Steam after three long years. This version has been joined by various console editions, including a port for the Nintendo Switch.
After spending several hours with the PC version, I came away feeling relatively underwhelmed, but at least a little impressed due to a few decent factors. That said, I was very intrigued how this relatively simple driving sim would hold up on Nintendo’s ageing hybrid system. In a way, my expectations were both met and also a little let down.
A blast to the past
Seeing that I already eluded to my overall feelings for this game in my review of the PC version, this Scout Summary of Truck and Logistics Simulator on Switch is focused on highlighting how it holds up from a technical standpoint, as it is the same game feature-for-feature.
That said, one line from my initial review immediately came back to me after only a few minutes of playing this Switch version: “To an extent, the crude presentation of the city, the UI and the blandness of the gameplay loop itself kind of makes this feel as if it was made in the mid-2000s, albeit with a sprinkle of modern graphical fidelity.”
Playing the Switch version has reinforced this very same feeling, although the last part about there being “a sprinkle of modern graphical fidelity” does not apply here.
It should come as no real surprise that Truck and Logistics Simulator has been parred back on Switch, given the hybrid’s technical constraints.
Even so, seeing that this is already a relatively simple-looking title with only a few somewhat decent graphical effects thrown in to gussy it up, the fact that it’s even more crude-looking on Switch almost completely takes away the little bit of visual charm it had going for it.
Coming to terms with the cutbacks
Of course, graphics are not everything; but if a game’s visual prowess and technical performance prove to be a distraction, that’s where the real issue comes in. Like many Switch releases (particularly third-party ones,) there’s a very noticeable amount of pop-in for various scenery objects and even some of the world detail.
Not only has the amount of assets around the sim’s open-world map been reduced to a degree, leaving it looking more barren than it already was, but the added pop-in further adds to a sensation of hollowness.
Even relatively simple objects like street lights come into frame at a very close distance, making driving at night quite the chore as the lightning is exceptionally dark.
Speaking of lighting, the tolerable lighting and shading effects of the PC version are pretty much gone here, leaving the visual presentation rather flat and plain odd in some areas. Just as the night time is too dark, the daytime is uncomfortably bright as the skybox exhibits an extreme amount of light intensity from the virtual sun. Not only is not realistic, it washes out everything on the horizon.
Combine this with the lack of shader depth and the overall result feels like turning a flashlight on/off depending on the time of day.
The day-night cycle is strangely absent here entirely. After selecting a vehicle, you’re presented with the option to play during day or night, in either dry conditions, with light rain, or during a heavy downpour.
I never encountered weather effects while playing the PC version, leading me to assume they weren’t present. It seems I may have just somehow missed it, as it’s clearly present here. Though, all it does is change the ‘atmosphere’ somewhat, and the rudimentary sound effects of the rain aren’t even appealing to listen to.
Alas, despite all these complaints, I shan’t contradict what I said earlier about graphics not being everything. Truck and Logistics Simulator here on Switch still provides the same gameplay experience as the PC release, which in this case, still ends up being for better or worse.
Cargo chronicles on the go
The Switch version retains the same unnamed map, with missions scattered about in unmarked locations. You have the same number of different vehicles, across various categories, which provide access to different delivery jobs. The decent physics system is also retained here, along with the alright driving mechanics.
One Switch difference is that you have the option of steering using the accelerometer when playing with Joy-Con (I’m unable to test if this is available for other motion-enabled Switch controllers.) This feature is tucked away in the exceptionally tiny options menu and I honestly can’t say that I hate it.
While it didn’t take me long to change it back to using the analog stick, the sensitivity wasn’t that hard to get used to (and can be adjusted.) On PC, steering wheel peripherals are supported; the motion controls here don’t hold a candle to that implementation, but options are always good to have.
Whether playing in handheld or docked mode, the experience stays pretty much the same. The game runs at an unlocked framerate and does try to target 60 FPS. However, it often hovers somewhere in the 40s and 50s from what my eyes can detect.
That said, it does seem to target the Switch’s native 1080p resolution when docked and 720p in handheld mode. Again, given the game’s apparent mid-2000s aesthetic, I would’ve been disappointed if it didn’t achieve at least this result.
Nevertheless, considering I was only mildly amused with the PC release of Truck and Logistics Simulator, my hopes already weren’t too high from the Switch edition.
Despite my complaints, I still have to consider it a relatively competent port. Visual downgrades aside, it’s notable that it has released day-and-date with the other versions, along with retaining feature parity.
But, because in some ways it culls back what was already a relatively simple driving simulator, the flaws are more exposed; hence my comment at the onset of how this has left me feeling somewhat more disappointed than the Switch release.
“Options are always good to have”
Recognise that from a few sentences ago? Well, this also applies to where this sim fits in the Switch library.
While Nintendo’s lack of true quality control over on the Switch eShop has led to a deluge of shovelware titles that dare to call themselves “simulators” over the years, there are a few titles that do properly hold that moniker.
Giants Software ported a really decent version of Farming Simulator 17 not too long after the Switch’s initial release; it stands out as the only entry in the series on Switch to be 1:1 with the other console versions.
While both came to the Switch after the fact compared to other platforms, these ports were done with some real love and care and the results show for it.
They’re perhaps the most comparable to Truck and Logistics Simulator in terms of gameplay formula and the fact that they’re a far more feature-rich experience. This is down to the insane level of quality of their off-road simulation mechanics and weight simulation that puts Simula Games’ project to total shame.
While they each focus on conquering treacherous terrain to deliver cargo loads versus the city driving of this simulator, they’re still considered to be some of the best examples in the driving sim world, despite both titles having a bit of age on them at this point.
I bring up these other titles not necessarily to cast a bad light on Truck and Logistics Simulator; it is still an okay title after all, even though it has been parred back for the Switch.
That said, I feel like these other games do a better job at providing a driving/cargo delivery sim experience and with better presentation at that. Next year will see the release of Expeditions, the third entry in Saber’s Runner franchise and is slated to come to the Switch. Potential successor to the hybrid aside, it does seem likely to be another great release, given the studio’s strong track record both on and off Nintendo’s platform.
Thus, once more, options are always good to have.
Is there logic in these logistics?
Ultimately, this is still a competent port, and I’m glad Simula Games’ put the effort into getting it out alongside the other versions.
While the cutbacks are disappointing, the gameplay formula has remained intact. Looking at it through the lens of being a simple driving sim, it’s not so bad. But, just as was the case with the PC version, I couldn’t help but find myself wanting more depth and focus out of this experience.
I got into simulators at a very young age. If this were my first sim, I’d perhaps be at least intrigued with finding more games like it.
Young kids are not the core demographic of the Switch (despite what some Internet echo chambers may lead you to believe,) yet I have to imagine the likelihood of younger sim fans coming across this release on the eShop is perhaps higher than on Steam, given the accessibility and discoverability the Switch has to offer. Similarly, this applies to older gamers who may be dabbling into driving sims for the first time.
Considering all this, Truck and Logistics Simulator is an okay title for getting into the genre, but with an arguably hefty MSRP of $40 USD, I can’t help but point in the direction of the other sims I’ve mentioned earlier.
Nevertheless, it’s always good to see more competent entries added to the roster and this is still one of them. If Simula Games build upon the experience by fleshing out the world and provide more gameplay depth and variety, it has the makings of going from an alright driving sim, to a pretty solid experience.
Check out more sim content:
Scout Summary is a series dedicated to providing a review-like report of games and their DLC when, despite not having been fully completed, have already shown off a significant portion of their mechanics. Thus, these reports highlight the visited aspects of the content and summarise the writer’s overall feelings of the project. Or, you can just call these mini reviews/impressions…but that’s less fun!