21/12/2020

๐Ÿ’ฐ๐ŸŽ️๐Ÿ’จ Car Trader Simulator | PC | Review | Who would have thought the world of second-hand car trading could be so compelling? ๐Ÿ’ฐ๐ŸŽ️๐Ÿ’จ @livemotiongames @PixelHunted #GameDev #IndieGames

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There’s a shiny new PlayStation 5 sitting under my TV with a copy of Demon’s Souls snugly nestled inside. 

A world of 4K, ray-traced, HDR goodness is just waiting for me… and here I am playing Car Trader Simulator.
I only have myself to blame. When offered a list of games to review something about this just leapt out at me. Perhaps it was the Ronseal name, perhaps it was the perversity of the dull-sounding concept, perhaps it was the genuinely unpleasant looking lead character? 

But I made my own bed by agreeing to this and was duty-bound to give Live Motion Games’ latest a fair shake.

First impressions weren’t great. The game is played on a 2D city map on which you shuffle icons about and click through menus. The aim, as you’d expect, is to trade cars. 
These cars can be bought at auction, on the internet, packaged in shipping containers or simply stolen off the street. Once in your garage, you fix them up and sell them off at a (hopefully) hefty markup.

Profit beckons, and with your growing bank account comes brand new facilities, advertising campaigns, new equipment for your staff and so on. Were Car Trader Simulator only that it’d be an incredibly dry game that’s effectively a spreadsheet with knobs on.

Then there’s the story mode. In this, you create your sleazy, ponytailed car dealer and take him on a journey from some schmoe greaseball to ruling the city. 

I named my hero Bendy Joe, proprietor of ‘Bendy Joe’s Smokin’ Motorz’ and launched him on the path to success. This comes in two varieties, you can either be an upstanding pillar of the community, or a scumbag sleazeball who’d sell his own mother a half-repaired deathtrap.

I decided early on that Bendy Joe looks out for only one person: Bendy Joe. I also realised that the best way to maximise my profits was to recruit a squad of master thieves and send them out to scour the city for stealable cars. 

Why buy a car for $10,000 when I can steal it for $0? Any sale on stolen goods is pure profit, no matter what I shift it for - even better, it turns out this lesson applies to real-life too!
With my car trading/fencing operation ticking over nicely it’s time to get stuck into the story, where Bendy Joe doesn’t take prisoners. Assassinate some guy’s cheating wife? Sure why not. Start several large fires? Eh that part of town was a dump anyway. Bomb the cops? I say go big or go home. 

When the end of the game rolled around Bendy Joe had quite the kill count, not to mention the off-screen deaths he’s no doubt responsible for after all those fibs about his cars having working brakes.

While I can take or leave the “number go up” car trading, the goofy and very violent storyline kept me interested enough to the finish of the campaign (though not enough to try the ‘lawful’ route). But while Car Trader Simulator is actually kinda fun, there’s a couple of obvious flaws.

Number one is the amount of grammatical and spelling errors throughout the game. This is still Early Access, but the game really needs a proofread as in its current state it looks fairly unprofessional. 

Also, while the game doesn’t necessarily look bad, much of the art is clearly traced from other sources. I can’t deny it was fun working with Bob Hoskins as Mario, selling a car to the T-800 or getting Michael Corleone to bend the knee to me, but selling a race car to someone who looks suspiciously like a freshly shaven Hitler raised an eyebrow.

Beyond that, I’m not sure the core mechanics are engaging in isolation. There’s a sandbox mode without story conditions, in which your goal is just to grow your business. It’s not especially hard to make money in this game and as far as I could tell the endgame is trading more expensive cars in bigger garages.
But hey, Car Trader Simulator is still in early access so it’s easy to forgive its flaws. Plus there’s a decent case that the game’s off-beat charms would be smoothed over if it had a slicker presentation. 

By the time I’d figured out how to play and was busy building my second-hand-car-based criminal empire I surprised myself when I realised I was having a pretty damn fun time.

Maybe I’ll check out some of Live Motion Games’ other upcoming titles. Orchard Simulator does sound dull, but for all, I know it could be full of the silly, OTT brutality that makes Car Trader Simulator so unexpectedly engaging. 

Who would have thought the world of second-hand car trading could be so compelling?

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