This tongue-in-cheek trucking sim sequel sends players across the U.S., behind the wheel of a big rig, moving cargo to key locations for profit and prestige. As in the first game, players can choose their own routes, making use of any back roads or secret shortcuts they may find, as they strive to avoid overzealous law enforcement agents and beat out rival truckers for the sweetest contracts and best runs. Throughout their 18-wheeling adventure, players encounter a cast of exaggerated characters designed to caricature both the best and the worst that the ground-shipping industry has to offer.
The subtitle of Big Mutha Truckers 2 is "Truck Me Harder." That should be a warning right there: take a detour to avoid the stupidity ahead. But if you're not one to heed warnings, prepare for a lumpy mix of insipid redneck humor, monotonous arcade racing, and simplistic strategy. It's a weak sequel to a weak original.
The idea behind Big Mutha Truckers 2 is actually a promising one. First, you get redneck humor, which can be a lot of fun. Popular comedians like Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy have laughed all the way to the bank by laughing at -- and with -- rednecks. And then there's the idea of racing massive big rigs through -- and smacking into -- traffic. Who doesn't love to smash stuff? It certainly worked for Burnout. Throw in some economic strategy and GTA-style side missions, and this could have been a really cool game.
Instead, you get a pretty lame one. More often than not, the humor bombs. A fat slob of a trucker with a slow drawl isn't inherently funny, even though the developers really want you to think so. He certainly doesn't make a great lead character. (Other playable characters include a blonde bombshell wearing Daisy Dukes, an African-American ladies' man, and a lanky doofus who likes hogs and "shiny things.") In non-interactive scenes, you hear but don't see your character talk with a gay bartender in a sailor's hat, a biker babe named Slits, a greedy businessman, a crooked politico, and other stereotypes devoid of real character. In the hands of an expert, stereotypes can make for hilarious comedy, but merely putting a stereotype on screen and waiting for laughs is weak. Like they say, drama is easy, comedy is hard.
At least there's the gameplay, right? On the bright side, there's lots of it. You can take any of the four lead characters on a quest to bribe the jurors who'll be sitting on the trial of your dear ma, who's been charged with tax evasion and over seven thousand parking violations. To earn the bribe money and beat the game, you need to buy freight like "stinky cheese" and "fast-acting prunes" and haul it to cities where you can sell it for a profit. Along the way you can upgrade your truck, stop in bars to play simple betting games, and take on little side quests like driving a self-important movie star past adoring fans. This will all keep you busy a good, long time. For a budget game, it doesn't skimp on material.
But the material is weak, so it's mostly for naught. You need to drive your big rig down the same short stretches of road again and again. You can earn bonus points for smashing cars and beating a set time, but the wrecks are yawn-inducing. Where are the thrills or comedy?
Cops, UFOs, and other enemies will chase you from time to time, but the whole pursuit-and-evasion mechanic also seems half-baked. Usually, we just kept on driving, and the Smokeys would forget about us. Then there are other mini-challenges during each brief (about a minute) drive between cities, like parking on a certain spot quickly. How exciting.
At least controlling the behemoth trucks is an interesting challenge. At first, it's a far cry from maneuvering the little sports cars you race in other games. Once you start to get the hang of it, however, the novelty wears off. (Either way, make sure you have a gamepad. Steering wheels aren't officially supported, and keyboard control is awkward at best.)
Like the racing mechanics, the buying and selling of commodities also suffers from simple-mindedness. Little graphs and indicators basically tell you what to buy and where to sell it, so the game quickly becomes an exercise in numbing repetition. Buy stuff, drive for a minute or two, sell stuff, repeat until you slump over in your chair, defeated by the monotony of it all. Happily, the little casino games (such as blackjack) that you find in each city make for fun diversions from the rest of the game.
Middling voiceovers and mediocre graphics can't salvage the thin gameplay. The many opportunities for colorful characters and memorable towns are blown with predictable and bland clichés.
There's nothing outright horrific about Big Mutha Truckers 2; in extremely short bursts, it can even be a bit of no-brainer fun. But there's too much that's underdeveloped and gruelingly tedious over the long haul. After an hour or two, you'll probably say "truck this game" and haul on down the road.
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