Reviewed: September 16, 2005
Released: August 23, 2005
I just took my first ride in the big rigs, and I must admit – it may be bumpy, but it is a pretty darn fun ride.
What I’m getting at is that I just took an extended spin with Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder, Eutechnyx’ newest addition in their series of budget-priced eighteen wheeled truck “simulations”. And I use the term “simulation” a bit differently than you would expect from a driving game, since Big Mutha Truckers 2 really isn’t your average racer. In fact, it’s not much of a racer at all. The basis of Big Mutha Truckers 2 actually revolves around a series sim-like resource management decisions, interconnected by short stints arcade style driving missions.
The game parodies the whole hicks-n-hillbillies theme with a smattering of lowbrow, even downright crass, humor that borders on the Leisure Suit Larry or Outlaw sports games. Still, given that this impressively deep offering will not only challenge your cerebral cortex, but do so for under twenty dollars, well it’s worth letting some silliness slide by.
Big Mutha Truckers 2 allows players to choose one of four available characters with which to represent them through the course of events. This menagerie of folks – Bobbie-Sue, Cletus, Earl, and Rawkus – are all siblings in the Jackson trucking dynasty led by the outspoken matriarch, Ma. Ma Jackson has recently been put imprisoned on a variety of tax-related indictments, and her children are determined to earn her freedom.
Ma’s freedom requires money – to be used to bribe the jury members in her trial – that the family will earn by wildcatting across glorious Hick State County buying, delivering, and selling various cargos.
Hick State County is comprised of a dozen or so destination towns, each approximately 1-2 minutes drive time apart, during which the player will encounter alien attacks, “hicks from hell,” biker pirates, and a variety of other obstacles. The truck’s trailer can be used as a weapon, wiping out foes with wild tail swings initiated using the shoulder buttons.
Each town has a store and a bar in which business can be conducted. Each is inhabited with a colorful character or two from the themed town – the Roswell town features Men-In-Black suit types and alien fanatics, the Hollywood town features Rat Pack-styled actors, etc.
Within stores, your character can buy and sell cargo, and also upgrade their rigs. Available cargo is displayed as a list and each has specific size and weight that add with a rig’s existing cargo to fill the trailer’s weight. Each item also has its own purchase cost and selling value (both of which differ from town to town). Each cargo item is categorized into solids, liquids, refrigerated and/or illegal. The trick is to balance purchase cost and load weight, and later to find the optimum time and location to reap the most profit from your sale.
The bars are generally inhabited by a bartender and a prospective juror. Jurors simply tell you how much it will cost to buy them off, which sets your financial goals. Bartenders on the other hand, dole out the mini-missions which generally take the form of a wild checkpoint race with some form of collection goal – i.e. take an actor to his photo shoots, pick up and deliver alien hitchhikers, collect lost beer kegs, etc.. These mini missions often utilize vehicles other than semi tractor-trailers – sometimes an SUV, sometimes a pickup – which try to add a bit of variety to the game.
The bars also feature one of several forms of card games in the back – some actual gambling games like 21, some are variations on matching. You can gamble money on these games, but the payouts don’t generally justify the time required.
When picking your next city, you are offered a time challenge. Basically you’ll win more money if you guarantee you can make it from point A to point B within a set time. Sometimes, hitting the shortest time is a walk in the park, others it’s nigh impossible. Still, the name of the game is to garner enough money to get Ma home safely, so you have to set your sights high.
I’m sure it is difficult to control an eighteen wheeler at full speed through a narrow mountain pass, and Eutechnyx – for better or for worse – does a pretty good job of making the behemoths seem sluggish, clumsy, and always on the verge of a wreck. The only real problem is that in this day and age of high-speed racers like Burnout and Midnight Club, driving cross-county in Big Mutha Truckers 2 seems a bit sedated.
Strangely, the alternate vehicles used in the mini missions seem to use the same physics model as the trucks – almost as if the SUV is a skin over the semi’s model – which is a real drag. After trudging around Hick State County in a semi for an hour – as fun as it is – any change is welcome…but when that change is just as sluggish, just as clumsy, and just as on the verge of a wreck as the semi you just dismounted, it’s a bit lackluster.
While the game features some open-ended gameplay features – you choose your destinations and cargo – do not mistake this for an open world game like we see in the Grand Theft Auto series. Your paths from town to town are predetermined for the most part (save for a few shortcuts here and there) and you will eventually get to know every turn.
The game keeps a pretty good sense of humor throughout – maybe a bit too cliché overall, but still a bit more bearable than some of the other games of the same ilk. This is most likely because you get the feeling that Big Mutha Truckers 2 is just as much a parody on itself as it is on the people it tries to poke fun at.
Our esteemed editor noted in his Xbox review of Big Mutha Truckers 2 that for a $20 game, the graphics are surprisingly good. And for the PS2, that pretty much sums it up as well. Sure, it’s not on par with some of the bigger budget titles out there, but it really looks like Eutechnyx has learned how to squeeze as much juice as it can out of the aging PS2.
The towns and countryside look fairly impressive – at least along the predetermined courses. Because of the predetermined structure, Eutechnyx was able to minimize draw-in. Still, there are some pretty massive jaggies on the vehicles, and an overall lack of sharpness, but I won’t argue for $20.
The sound is a bit of a mixed bag. While the actors seem fairly authentic – at least for people making fun of the backwoods folk – the overall audio mix made it difficult to differentiate some sounds from others. Some characters and sounds would come across quiet, while others would be too loud (especially after cranking up the quiet parts). Still, it’s not all that necessary to hear each and every character on screen because the game will keep track of objectives.
The soundtrack features a number of licenses tunes, both old and new, interspersed with humorous GTA-style talk radio programs. While the music was not as cool as what you get from GTA, and the talk was not as witty as you get from GTA, it’s still a nice change of pace when a company goes out of its way to try something different.
I know I keep harping on this $20 issue, but BMT2 is really a fairly impressive offering to come out of the gate at the budget price. The game is what you make it, and depending on how you play this game can be completed anywhere between 15 and 30 hours. Considering my last review 187 Ride or Die cost $50 and could be completed in a mere 3 hours, I would say this is the much better deal.
To be honest, as a newbie to the series I didn’t expect the level of depth that Big Mutha Truckers 2: Truck Me Harder had to offer. I expected it to be a straight point-to-point semi racer like Sega’s 18 Wheeler. Big Mutha Truckers 2 is no San Andreas, but for $20, it’s a pretty neat diversion from the norm. Really, except for the weird vehicle control on the alternate vehicles and some graphics issues (which are more the fault of the console itself), I can’t say there is too much to complain about with Big Mutha Truckers 2.
Yeah, it’s not really what I would consider to be in my style, but I did have a good time running through Hick State County. Definitely one of the better budget titles out there.