There’s a simulator for just about anything and everything these days; from cooking and farming, right through to something more outlandish, such as the upcoming Bee Simulator. Safe to say, if you want to enjoy the simulation of something specific, chances are, there’s a game that will scratch that itch. Car Mechanic Simulator, as alluded to in the title, allows you to take on the role of a car mechanic, and has you building and expanding your repair service empire in what’s described as an incredibly detailed and highly realistic experience.
How much of that is true? Most of it, actually. If you never knew how to fix up cars but always wondered what the fuss was about, or, whether it was as complex as it looks, this is your chance to find out. I’ll say this, for a game that attempts to simulate something that’s already as tough to understand as it is, Car Mechanic Simulator does an incredible job of feeding you into the experience. Here, newcomers are welcomed with open arms, and given all the insight they need to ensure that they have a level footing with genre veterans.
There’s no story in the traditional sense of the phrase, but instead, a general framework that sees you running a near constant cycle of fixing up motors. There’s a few modes to select from; Normal, Normal w/o Tutorial, Sandbox, and Expert. You’ll get roughly the same experience from either or, and all are fairly self explanatory as far as game modes go. If you’re a newcomer, I would certainly recommend starting from Normal. Here, you’ll get a helpful tutorial that provides great support for those (like me) wet behind the ears.
Whilst the tutorial doesn’t really teach you the fundamentals, it does let you enjoy a fully unlocked garage and will show you everything that can be earned and utilized in the main event. Finishing the tutorial consists of fixing up one of the two cars available; refill the oil in one car, or, build an engine of a car in the other. That sounds basic, but in practice, it really does help to have a more hands-on approach in a game of this type. Once complete, however, you’ll be able to test out the car, and then from thereon out, the real work begins.
Starting out, you begin work in a basic garage with nothing but simple jobs to accomplish; change brake pads, change oil filters, and more besides. Yes, this could have been reserved for the tutorial, but it works well nonetheless. The more time you put in, the deeper the game gets, and before long, you’ll be leveling up and earning skill points to upgrade and expand your garage and its capabilities. Pretty much everything that you do in the game will net you points that, in a roundabout way, go towards leveling you up. It’s a neat structure.
Essentially, this means that something as basic as taking off a part, or even replacing a component, will earn you some points. These points will accumulate, and once you hit a required amount, you’ll earn a single skill point that you can then use to level up your overall build. This can be anything from speed improvement, allowing for faster unscrewing of bolts and screws, right through to something more mechanically useful, such as examining problems more swiftly. The whole progression system is fluid, easy to digest, yet still robust.
Simulators are well known for being overly complicated, or even far too obtuse at times, so it was refreshing to find one that’s not only in-depth and engaging, but accessible. Speaking more specifically about the car work, I wont go into full detail because you can literally strip a car down to nothing, but the general functionality as to how everything works is easy and simple to accomplish. In fact, the only real issue you’ll need to keep a tab on is your cash, and the amount you have left, but even then, there’s plenty to do to keep things nice and afloat.
Starting off, you’ll select the car that you want to work on, and once delivered, will then move it to the area that you want to fix it up. You’ll then get to work identifying issues with the car, and then remedy said issues through taking away old and broken parts, and replacing them with new ones via a slot-in/slot-out mechanic. You will indeed need to be aware of the parts you’re removing during the break-down process, as you’ll need to make logs on your computer and then order the correct parts needed. Like I said, it’s very highly detailed.
Wrong parts, naturally equals no fix, and wastes your money. Once you’ve ordered the right parts, they will automatically be added to your inventory, and then it’s a case of putting the new parts and components in place of the removed ones. You will indeed also need to put together you car again, but thanks to how well everything handles, it never feels like a slog. Don’t worry if you don’t have the best of memories and find it easy to forget things that you’ve deconstructed, because the game has a rather intelligent system to lean upon here.
You see, there’s a neat reassemble mode (at least on Normal) that outlines roughly where parts will slot in to place. This also lists the wide range of parts that make up the vehicle of choice, which is amazing if, like me, you’ve no clue what a left arm crack or a sway bar is. That’s one of my favorite things about Car Mechanic Simulator, it never makes you feel like an idiot, and comes with just the right amount of leeway to make even the most least car-savvy of folks feel right at home, all the while retaining its depth and complexity.
The game does get more involved as progress is made. For instance, later on in, you’ll get a car to fix that literally says little more than that it makes an odd noise. Whilst it’s your job to identify and repair said problem, you do get some useful tools to utilize once you’ve expanded both your garage, and its capabilities. Technical machines and tools that you unlock will give you more insight to solve problems, but before you get to the proper good stuff, you’ll need to rely on common sense to remedy such faults, and a bit of trial and error.
See a rusty part? Turf it out and slot in a shiny new one. See something that looks like an elephant dances on it? You guessed it! Turf it out and slot in a new one. To say that an entire game has been modeled around this framework, and yet never gets tiring or old, is quite an achievement. The realism is nothing short of commendable; from fixing up cars, right through to using power tools and purchasing replacements, it’s all well balanced, well set, and utterly fun. The only downsides sit with the game’s horrendously loud audio and lengthy load times.
Still, in the face of everything the game gets right, these few flaws are easy to overlook. Moving back, once you think you’ve fixed a car, you can then open up a pie menu and select the car’s state; with a simple green tick or red cross in place to inform you as to whether you’ve done your job correctly. This alone makes failure feel more like the product of lack of perception than a flat out flop, and bouncing back to take another look under the proverbial hood is as easy as can be. There’s even a tracker present that will provide hints to aid you.
This outlines each broken part in blue, giving you instant access to faults you would otherwise spend heaps of time trying to locate without it. Honestly, I cant sing the game enough praises for what it is. Removed, old, or faulty parts will be added to your inventory, to which you can sell them for scrap income. Though, you can indeed repair specific parts to reuse them later down the lines. With all that said and done, it’s not just customer cars that you’ll be working on. No, no, no, there’s more to the general car work than meets the eye.
As you complete the long chain of campaign cars, you’ll earn crates that house high-end loot; essentially, rather expensive gear that you can make great use of, and if you’re super lucky, you’ll get a barn find. This is where the treats sit. Barn finds grant access to old vintage cars that you can buy. Pricey, indeed, but well worth the payoff given the right time and effort. It’s little touches like this that puts Car Mechanic Simulator in front of other simulator games of similar ilk; providing plenty of things to do and quite an impressive degree of refinement.
There’s a total of forty eight cars to get hands on with, over ten tools to help you on your way, and over a staggering one thousand parts spread across the game’s entirety. That’s a lot! The gameplay is kept fresh through the fact that jobs are randomly generated, so you never truly know what you’re going to be assigned. You could get something simple and straightforward, or something headache-inducing; varying in difficulty and time constraints. The life of a mechanic, eh? Naturally, the price of each task will be set accordingly.
It helps that the game’s handling is fluid and responsive throughout the entirety of play. Everything from stripping a car down to its bare chassis, through to fine-tuning it and painting it, remains intuitive and precise. The same can be said about anything else you can get up to, to which there’s so much to do. There’s even a junkyard that you can visit to purchase old cars and parts to aid you elsewhere, and an auction you can attend to bid on cars of your choosing. Be careful in the latter, it can be tough to stay in the bidding lead.
When you’re not under the hood, chances are, you’ll be taking a car for a spin or testing it across several checks. Car Mechanic Simulator allows you to drive cars your working on, and cars you own, across a range of locations. The driving mechanics aren’t the best, but they do the job in ensuring that everything feels diverse and dynamic. It also helps that the game’s locations vary quite considerably too, keeping repetition at bay as a result. I’ve learned quite a bit about cars just playing this, and I don’t plan on putting the game down any time soon.
The game sports licensed cars from both Mazda and Jeep, which should please those of you that enjoy that extra layer of realism. Whilst the car models are all quite distinguished, they don’t appear to be flawless. Don’t get me wrong, the effort that’s gone in here is remarkable, but some more care and attention to detail would not have gone amiss. The overall look and sound of the game gets a thumbs up from me. It’s not the best looking game in the market, but it’s far from the worst. It’s got visual enough detail and audio distinction to see it through.
When all is said and done, this is as likely to surprise you as it did me. I wasn’t expecting the game to be as fun, as deep, and as hands-on as it is, whilst still being very easy to sink into. There’s something particularly alluring about starting from scratch and working your way up through soaking up the game’s near endless, intriguing play. Despite its few drawbacks, this is one of the finest sims I’ve played in a long while, and one that quite literally goes out of its way to make you feel comfortable from the get-go. I’ve put in the hours, and still feel like I’m at surface level.
Car Mechanic Simulator may be a little rough around the edges as far as its optimization goes, but speaking specifically of its functionalities and its mechanics, it’s easily one of the most well rounded sims in recent memory. Furthermore, it doesn’t alienate the inexperienced, and instead, does a wonderful job at keeping its in-depth gameplay and its deep systems both accessible and easy to digest. I wholly recommend giving it a chance.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.