Hard Truck Apocalypse is one of the latest releases in the long Hard Truck Series. You might know the games in the franchise as Hard Truck – 18 Wheels Of Steel, or Hard Truck Haulin’. Their basic concept was to simulate the trucking/hauling business by giving more attention to the actual driving than the actual financial and bureaucratic elements involved in the real profession. The player was beginning the game with a beaten up rig and the aim was to build up reputation and eventually buy more trucks, hire drivers etc in making a large transport company. There was no ending in the game unless you had lost all your money and your only truck was terribly damaged, something that made you loose interest in the game after a while, cause all you could do was to transport goods from one city to another and gain more profit and that was it. No storyline, no real substance, nothing to keep you going for long. Product life cycle equalled to one week on your hard drive then back to the box and of to the self to catch dust . In that vein several titles came out: Hard Truck 18 Wheels of Steel, Hard Truck 18 Wheels of Steel Across America, Hard Truck – Pedal To The Metal and finally the recent (and pinnacle title, in my opinion) Haulin’.
Hard Truck Apocalypse is something completely different and new to the Hard Truck series. For one, it does not play the same, nor does it feel the same as the rest of the games in the series. Best of all, H.T. Apocalypse finally has a storyline to follow! And this storyline comes in 2 varieties according to how you start off the game. It also has a huge map for you to explore!
The story begins with the player as a young boy who has the ambition to travel through the post apocalyptic world. Ah! yes I forgot to mention that in the game’s scenario the apocalypse has happened some years before our hero was born and on the scorched land total anarchy rules. People live in small villages and towns trying to survive the aggressiveness and scavenging of the free roaming pirates and paramilitary organisations. So our hero has just grown up and his parent gives him his trusty ‘ol beaten up rig to make his first transport to the nearest town. So this is where the game begins. Your first mission is to deliver a package to a friend of your fathers in the nearby town and return back home. As soon as you approach home you see flames (not very realistic ones) and debris where your house used to be! Now it’s up to you to follow the scenario driven missions in order to complete the game. But that won’t be easy as for every puzzle you solve there are new ones laid out in front of you, all of them involving driving around too many miles.
Another element that gets introduced to the series in Apocalypse is the shooting ability of the player. Now not only you have to drive your truck from town to town, you MUST learn how to shoot well if you want to survive! Hey I told you! It’s the world of the post Apocalypse and total chaos reigns. If you don’t get the heads of those pirates, they surely get yours and the stuff that you’re carrying with you. So in H.T. Apocalypse’s world every truck has one or more mounts for weapons with which you fight off enemies. Also every truck has a specific armor value. The same goes for the weapons, as the damage rate they inflict varies on the kind of weapon you have chosen. On a general rule devastating weapons have very slow rates of fire, whereas pea-shooters have rapid rates. Choose according to your skills and style.
As far as gameplay is concerned HT Apocalypse is a mixed media job: Driving, Shooting and R.P.G.elements all blended together to bring out the atmosphere of the traveler in a post apocalyptic world. Their implementation on to the actual game? Very good! Consider the fact that the creators (the Russian Buka team) had to make out a believable experience out of these 3 elements, which coming to think of it is not the easiest of tasks. If they didn’t include one of the 3, the game would be a simple disk of total crap. Surely the driving part is not the best you’ve ever seen as the vehicles seem to have a somewhat lunar gravity, but let’s face it; it’s fun to drive and shoot, it an already successful recipe since the good old days of Carmaggedon! So if you liked Carmaggedon, chances are you’ll like this one cause it has much nicer graphics and oh! those monstrous and customisable trucks! To be honest with you those monster trucks were the biggest reason why I bought this one! Just look at the “Ural” on the left, or the mighty “Belaz” down on the right (Oh I’d love to have one of these during the traffic peak hours)! Combine these with the ability to mount 3-4 cannons, machine guns, plasma or laser turrets and you’re ready to devour the package box before even installing the game.
So basically your job is simple: drive from town to town, ask questions in the local bar or authorities to unveil the Grande Mystere that seems to have fallen upon who you are, the games hero character that is. When en route you can also take down a few pirates that fancy your cargo and get their cargo and equipment as loot. Having a truck loaded with good stuff “found lying around hehehehe!” is crucial for you as you can sell the goodies and make money to repair and refuel your truck, or go big ways and upgrade the front or the cargo bay to a sturdier and more roomy installation! Personally I would recommend the latter cause it allows you to gather up more good stuff from the battlefield and therefore income comes quicker. Weapons is no problem as the enemies you kill usually leave their weapon among the debris for you to pick up and use. So I rarely bought a weapon from a merchant, all my turrets are from the carcasses of my enemies muaahhahahaha!
I love this game! Trouble is that after a while it gets in my nerves because it’s so repetitive that I simply don’t want to drive another 10 minutes to cross 2-3 maps just to find an answer to the plot that will open another huge quest of the driving kind from point A, to B, to C, back to A again, then to D, to E and then back to A. And the fact is that I’ve already summoned a huge amount of cash that virtually nothing can stop me now, thus I’ve lost my interest in completing it. I love the post apocalyptic, very lonely atmosphere it offers though. Graphics-wise it’s ok, nothing jaw dropping, if only it offered a bit more challenge and variety. Oh and better voice acting wouldn’t hurt either!
I can’t imagine what the expansion that has just got released “Hard Truck Apocalypse – Rise Of Clans” would be, but I suspect that it is one of the same, it’ll probably give you the ability to drive for any faction you fancy. Might give it a go sometime, might not.