Construction Simulator 2 US – Console Edition (CS2US) starts out with the obligatory introduction tutorial, introducing you to the basic manoeuvrability of your first vehicles. It then gives you your first job to help you get a feel for the game. This is extremely useful, and although only walks you through the basics of the game, gives you enough information to get stuck into your first few jobs. In addition to the introduction, you have the option to start any other tutorial relating to aspects of the game and its vehicles through the Jobs section of the Company Menu; more of these become available the more vehicles you rent/buy from the Vehicle Dealership. This addition of supplementary learning is a nice touch; and means regardless of how far into the game you have managed to get, you can still learn the functions of the vehicles in your fleet.
It is now down to you as an upcoming construction firm to really get stuck in and pave your way forwards as a Construction Firm using the wide-range of machinery at your disposal: Cement Mixers; Mobile Cranes; Dump Trucks; Asphalt Pavers, and many more are yours to master. These vehicles also have a completely cosmetic sub-choice dependant on which manufacturer made the vehicle, whether that be CAT, Atlas, Mack or another.
The gameplay mechanics can be quite confusing, to begin with, and even as a somewhat simulation veteran, I still struggled in the beginning as the game holds quite a steep learning curve between basic handling and advanced manoeuvres. Nonetheless, the inclusion of tutorials for each of the vehicles and mechanics will help guide you from a Newbie to a Construction Mogul.
The company menu holds a lot of different information; from the ability to start jobs and go through tutorials, to accessing your motor pool and garage where you can repair the wear and tear of the vehicles. A great feature of the main company menu is the inclusion of the “Profile” section. As you can see in the screen captures, there are ways to track your progress towards challenges/achievements; a way to see your statistics, level and progress; and, even a section where you can upgrade skill-sets (which is a nice addition to a simulation game, albeit minimalistic).
The in-game achievement tracker is a welcomed addition – especially since it seems to be accurate, and updates when expected. They are varied, but most will take some time to complete. Although some of them are time-consuming, I do believe the game has enough content to keep you coming back and working on that 100% completion – some gamers will find it easier to do this in long sessions, whereas others will no doubt prefer sessions which are much shorter. Whichever you gravitate to, I am sure time will elude you once you start playing.
As with most in the simulation genre, CS2US is a slow-paced game and not for gamers who are looking for an adrenaline-filled experience, expectedly. The jobs themselves have a bit of variety, and you get a choice of multiple contracts to take (updating every 10 real-life minutes); so, there is always a task you will prefer. The jobs can be as simple as excavating a small hole, taking less than 10-15 minutes; but, there are some which will keep you working for 60+ minutes – I found myself building a two-storey house with pool near the start of the game for easily 90 minutes. The length of time each job takes you will depend on the vehicles you have unlocked, as well as the perks you have upgraded whilst levelling up your firm.
The game can be frustrating at times, with difficult combinations of controls to try and get the job done. I found it painful to keep switching between function and driving modes or switching between controlling the camera and some vehicles’ free-functions – practice did make this somewhat easier though. The game is very forgiving regarding the percentage of a task required for completion – above is my attempt at flattening the ground ready for a foundation; as you can see, I was far from a tidy workman, but the game did not penalise me for this not-so desired trait. The use of the crane and placing objects is another great example of how lenient CS2US is when it comes to completing jobs – the game helps to an extent and will allow you to place an object in the desired area if some part of the item is inside the ghosted marker: see captures below for better examples.
The game is great, but not without its flaws. There were instances where the road would disappear, or my vehicle would just jump into the air and flip for no reason, and/or get stuck – but the handy Reset Vehicle command helped these circumstances. These small flaws can be outweighed by the enjoyability of the game itself though; they are minor and do not make for a game-breaking experience.
What’s more, CS2US is pleasing on the eye in some aspects, with the smaller details of the vehicles ever apparent from all angles of view – although graphical mechanics could have been utilised more efficiently if the vehicles weren’t quite as “blocky”. Furthermore, it is a shame that the environment, materials and AI cars in the game showcase with such poor visual quality – but, we are here to see monstrous machinery, not to admire the mediocre condition of the view along the way. The change from day to night works effectively; as does the inclusion of effective use of shadows and artificial lighting within the game.
All-in-all, the game is one I would recommend to any simulation fan – though I would advise against a purchase if you’re usually not a fan of the genre – that being said, it is one of the more enjoyable titles available. The controls are heavy, manoeuvres are complex and frustrating, and you get your vehicle stuck – a lot – but this doesn’t take too much away from the experience that CS2US has to offer. Its achievement list is suitable for this type of game, the graphics are pleasing to the eye in some aspects, and I found myself engrossed for multiple hours in every sitting – the game even offers the renowned workman’s coffee break at HQ for those long sessions. For the price, it is worth the purchase to those that enjoy the genre; if you are on the fence, my personal recommendation would be to give it a go via a demo of some sort (if available). To put a numerical rating on the game, I would rate CS2US 7/10 considering other offerings from the same genre, it’s no-where near perfect, but it is one of the better simulator experiences for the Xbox.