Simulators are a strange and fascinating genre. If you were to go back in time and tell the gamers of the 1980s that in 2019, games would all be about building trains, driving trucks, and running a farm, they’d think you were crazy. Still, here we are in that fated year, and simulators are incredibly popular. Through a mixture of semi-ironic Twitch streaming, genuine enthusiasm, and surprisingly well-designed game mechanics, simulators are absolutely here to stay.
It’s no surprise, then, that a game built around designing a car would come along sooner or later. After all, if we’ve already enjoyed the delights of PC Building Simulator, then car mechanic work is a natural progression. Car Mechanic Simulator comes to us courtesy of Red Dot Games and PlayWay. Red Dot is responsible for prior games in the Car Mechanic Simulator series, so if you’ve played any of those and enjoyed them, you know what you’re in for here.
In case you hadn’t guessed, Car Mechanic Simulator is a game that allows you to tune up and work on a number of different cars. There’s plenty on offer here for petrolheads in terms of licenses; the game contains licensed vehicles from the likes of Jeep and Mazda, as well as plenty of other recognisable real-life brands. In total, the game offers 48 different cars to work on, and allows you to choose from over 1,000 different parts when you’re getting stuck in under the hood.
The most important thing to get right when you’re making a simulator game is arguably the visuals. In this department, it’s very hard to fault Car Mechanic Simulator. I played this one on a PS4 Pro with a 4K TV, and the visuals are frankly stunning. Light plays off the shimmering metal of each car’s bonnet with breathtaking fidelity. Each model is rendered with painstaking detail, as befits a simulator game like this one. If you’re in it for the graphics, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
As far as gameplay goes, again, simulators really only have one goal: to represent their intended subject as accurately as possible. Car Mechanic Simulator is split into missions, each of which will test a different aspect of your in-depth car knowledge. The missions are randomly generated, which means no two are alike; theoretically, this creates the possibility for infinite gameplay replayability in Car Mechanic Simulator. Whether or not this is actually the case will depend on your tolerance for repetition.
Maybe it’s churlish to expect a deeply varied and rich gameplay experience from Car Mechanic Simulator, but I was left feeling mildly disappointed with the mission structure. Of course, this game was never going to offer a deep narrative, but some sort of overarching goal would have been nice. Instead, it’s basically just a series of missions with very little to connect them. The life of a car mechanic isn’t exactly fraught with destiny, but it feels like it’d be a little more purposeful than this.
Thankfully, if that doesn’t bother you, there’s plenty here to whet your appetite. The jobs are randomly generated, so you can just keep going with those if you’d like. You can upgrade your garage, and there’s a surprising range of customisation available for those who get into this aspect of the game. You can visit car auctions, where other bidders will attempt to outbid you for certain vehicles. You can take your car out on the test track. There is, to put it mildly, quite a lot of content here.
I find myself wondering whether I’m just not the target audience for Car Mechanic Simulator. I’ll readily admit that I’m not a huge petrolhead; I don’t really understand the specific ins and outs of car maintenance and upgrades, so I’m definitely not the person who should be playing this one. This game is designed for enthusiasts and made for aficionados, and for them I can’t see it failing. The photorealistic graphics and sheer range of parts make sure of that.
In many ways, though, my time with Car Mechanic Simulator tells me positive things about the game. As I said, I’m not a huge petrolhead, but I found plenty to like here. The visuals are simply stunning. The sound design is top-notch (although I did run into one or two bugs that played sounds a little louder than they should have). The sheer depth of gameplay is staggering. Car Mechanic Simulator is definitely a worthwhile package for those who want to take advantage of it.
In the final analysis, you already know if you want to buy Car Mechanic Simulator. If you’re into tinkering and messing around with cars but you don’t want to commit yourself to a physical machine, this is the game for you. If you don’t have any interest in cars or their inner workings, it’s safe to stay well, well away from this game. As a specialist product, it does the job perfectly well, although it’s not exciting or particularly innovative.