Job simulator games are a special brand- for some, they are attracted by a particular kind of obtuse and that always goes out of its way to replicate an experience. In Car Mechanic Simulator 2018, you largely play in a garage where you restore rusted vehicles, sell them, which allows you to buy another vehicle, restore it, and do it all again. It’s a slow, methodical manner of progress, but the largest question with these types of games is: Does it work? Does Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 break down, or does it go the full mile? Let’s find out.
Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 is a game with a plethora of customization options, allowing you to modify everything from rim and tire sizes to tire widths and myriads of selections that can be made for the interior and exterior of a vehicle. Players take jobs fixing underperforming or flat out broken vehicles, measuring how much you put into the vehicle to repair it, getting paid, and then funneling that money toward your next, potentially more difficult project. You order parts for vehicles from your computer, or may scour a junkyard to score parts on the cheap, all of which has an impact on how profitable repairing each car may be for you by the time the job is done, as gameplay rewards are doled out in a very cathartic input = output model.
Players can perform tire and oil changes, balance tires, remove and rebuild engines. Vehicles can be painted, detailed, tuned, and cars can even be driven. New vehicles can be found in barns or junkyards, and you can take before and after photos of what arrives into your repair shop so you can keep track of the progress you’ve made on the various cars available. Of course, it’s not just up for you to find new cars in the wild (crikey!), as the game seems to have a near limitless number of missions it can randomly generate for you to complete, so you will always have something to do. Players can remove, add, or adjust parts for cars on basically a whim, so rebuilding a car will be a common task that is undertaken.
So what’s better than repairing cars and watching numbers representing money? Watching numbers representing your skills, of course. In Car Mechanic 2018, there is a light RPG system available that allows you to improve a variety of skills that may make later actions more profitable, or more expedient to consume less of your time per task. Some skills will increase your speed with a screwdriver, allowing you to be done with those actions more quickly. Some of the skills, sadly, are broken- The Educated skill was supposed to give players the ability to see the conditions of car parts when first looking at a car, without having to inspect everything more thoroughly, but the skill, as of the time of this writing, doesn’t actually do anything right now. Thankfully, players can spend a little money to reset skills, though it’s a shame to spend currency in order to fix what shouldn’t have been messed up in the first place.
Most actions are controlled with the mouse. Moving about the garage is a relatively simplistic task, and you simply click on objects you wish to interact with and choose which action you want to perform based on a context-sensitive menu that comes up. For example, if you go into the paint workshop and click on the paint shop tools in back of it, you’ll be given options to paint vehicles parts currently in your possession. The reason this is brought up is due to the fact that you’ll be doing a lot of walking back and forth through the garage, interacting with objects. This is a very easy to control game, which is somewhat rare for a title with the Simulator name.
Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 was a game that took a lot to love, initially. It was released in a horrendous state with a variety of game-ending glitches, to the extent where the game was incredibly difficult to play for a time span of about two weeks (with the first week making play a pure impossibility). That said, a large number of updates have taken place since then and the game has improved significantly during that time span. Initially, players could work on a vehicle and put a fair amount of time, effort, and money into it, but then randomly lose it by moving it from the garage to the parking spaces (the game would randomly delete it). Black screens, freezes, and various other bugs like ones that prevent you from finishing a vehicle exist as well, though a good deal of the most game breaking bugs have been fixed in the last month while optimization seems to have been improved during this same time frame as well.
Graphically, the game looks quite nice, now. Many of the performance bugs and memory issues were eliminated in earlier patches, so the visuals are actually impressive on Ultra settings. The music is less than spectacular, without any tracks that will really stick with you after leaving the game, though you can insert your own music tracks into the game if you like. The sound effects are all reasonable and give you the idea that you’re actually removing bolts, rotating tires, etc., which definitely helps immersion.
Overall, Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 is a reasonable game that, at some point, will hit a state nigh unto perfection. That time is not currently now, however. Even after a significant number of patches, very simple things still manage to be broken. Sometimes you may randomly not receive experience points for completed tasks, buying a car from the junkyard will sometimes, at seemingly random intervals, take your money but not spawn the car in your garage. Even with the latest patch, some skills may actually give you negative XP, making leveling up difficult or outright impossible.
The game has made significant strides in the last month, and only gets better. However, in its current state, I cannot recommend this game to anyone except for hardcore enthusiasts who want a new Simulator game to play. Fans of Car Simulator 2015 may be willing to overlook the wide variety of glitches in 2018’s edition, while those who are less forgiving of glitches but like Sim games may want to wishlist Car Mechanic Simulator 2018 and revisit it sometime in the future, after more patches have been released.
This isn’t to say the game isn’t playable right now- it most certainly is. The issue is that the game simply has so many niggles which detract from the experience that, unless you’re a hardcore fan of the genre, it may still be best to wait until more bugs are fixed. Twenty-eight patches have been released in a month’s time, so the game is clearly receiving updates at a breakneck pace, and hopefully those who are on the fence won’t have long to wait before it is safe to pull the trigger and join us under the hood.
Bonus Content: Blast from the Past! Check out our video review of Car Mechanic Simulator 2015, you know, from way back in 2015.