Hard Truck: Apocalypse Review (PC)

“What’s in a name?”  Shakespeare asks the question, following it with the statement.  “A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”  The Poet was right, but this also applies to video games, and unfortunately a bad game with a good name will still suck as bad.  Hard Truck: Apocalypse is a good example.

Soo much greenery.  Wouldn’t poisoned air kill the plants too? A nice background here. Shop sweet shop

Published by CDV and developed by Targen Games Hard Truck: Apocalypse is a game with a great cover, a neat name and not a bad concept, though one that seems hard for anyone to figure out entirely.  Poking around the web it’s listed as a shooter, an RPG and a racing game and I’m still not sure any of the above is completely accurate.

The idea behind Hard Truck: Apocalypse, reminds me of “Mad Max” or “The Road Warrior” which I suspect was the point only the idea stopped having resemblance to anything cool after the first hour.  As shown in the game opening, the apocalypse has happened.  Cataclysmic events lead to the poisoning of the air and death of the majority of the planets inhabitants, except for all the people you’re working with and for and killing but we’ll get to that.  You are a young driver who has just come of age to start making the delivery milk runs between the remaining towns and cities and must protect your cargo at all costs, while using the money you get from fighting bandits and making your deliveries to build a better truck.  The goal for the continual better truck might also make this a resource management and building game, but that might be going a bit too far too.  Particularly as the economics of the game make it so that the upgrades to your truck are very expensive and it may require 8-10 milk run deliveries before you can even consider that new armor.

There is a story line in this game…somewhere.  You find out that you’re dad is only yours by adoption and he gets killed early on, leaving you to search for your real dad while trucking around supplies and killing things.  The trucking around and killing being much more interesting than the dead ends and lack luster attempts to create an emotional response.

The aliens are coming!  Wait…wrong game The great combat idea of driving in circles.  Though the weapon effects are nice

When it comes to gameplay Hard Truck is a lesson in holding down the W key.  Then in holding down the W key and switching between that and the map.  Back and forth and back and forth like a kid on a swing.  The towns are spaced phenomenally far apart, which is faithful to the idea that an apocalypse would space out settlements, but as a video game where little happens in the space between, its booooooooorring.  The interactions with the bandits hold potential to be more interesting, but after the first encounter the hard truck combat is pretty much set in stone.  Circle the enemy and pound them with your guns.  This is a bit of a trick, only in that your view follows where your mouse is pointed, which is at the enemy in this case, but your driving is controlled by the keyboard.  If you’re not careful you can drive yourself up a tree or over a cliff while you’re trying to shoot the bad guys.  Sometimes you’ll have allies in these little raids, but don’t count on them overly much.  They have a tendency to walk into trees and don’t know how to reverse.  Which is rather humorous, but annoying.

The graphics of Hard Truck aren’t terrible, with some of the truck designs being rather impressive and some nice features to the backgrounds.  For a post apocalyptic world there seems to be a lot of the green and growing, which doesn’t exactly fit the setting, but the settings are rather pretty.  There is a little more variety in the types of towns you encounter, from run down ruins and quaint preserved farmlands, but all town interactions are done via menu, so not much chance for really exploring those environments.  The post apocalyptic setting seems to be an excuse to put people in masks so that facial animation isn’t a bother, which only added to confusion when trying to figure out what people were saying or wanted.

The sound in this game is adequate, but not anything impressive.  The background soundtrack stays pretty background and doesn’t really lend itself towards building any particular anticipation or emotion from scene to scene.  The voice acting is also rather uninspired and there are several places where the wording is awkward, possibly a bad translation, which can be confusing in getting a mission or picking up what storyline clues there are.

It’s after the Apocalypse! We promise.  Ignore the pristine background behind the curtain! Boom today!

At the end of the day I was under whelmed by this game.  It seemed a game with all of the right elements, but they never really came together in a way that ‘smelled as sweet’ as a game by any other name.

Top Gaming Moment:
  Most of my favorite parts of this game were the backgrounds, and the set up which had a lot of potential for coolness.

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