Enduring the Grindstone
In a rose-tinted world, trucking should be the pinnacle of cool. After all, youâ€™d be hard pressed to find a more masculine career; travelling the open road with nothing but soul crushingly loneliness as company. Be sure not to forget the 40 hour shifts where chugging endless bottle of pep-pills becomes the necessity.
GearGrinder does away with the idealism and leaves you with the bitter aftertaste of one too many roadside burgers. Instead of taking control of a shining beacon of humanity, youâ€™re stuck with a 1980â€™s action hero washout. This is straight-to-VHS gaming at its finest.
Itâ€™s only natural that the gameâ€™s title parades its gear-grinding. Long associated with the monotonous drudgery of MMOs, grindingâ€™s never held any sense of exuberance. As you trudge through the tedium of the single player campaign, you canâ€™t help but feel empathy for those who drive a truck for a living: your soul slowly whittled away by an unenthusiastic story.
It shouldnâ€™t be like this. When youâ€™re given control of GearGrinderâ€™s mammoth of a vehicle youâ€™d expect carnage aplenty. After all, the gameâ€™s talismanic truck has the sole purpose of allowing you to inflict as much pain as possible on unsuspecting Sunday drivers. They do nothing but drive wide-eyed into your path, showing little resistance in their lemming-like obedience.
Taking control of a Transformer runt, you shift between ineffective combat truck to an overly powerful racing-form that negates the need for the gameâ€™s weapons. The game quickly puts you on generic cruise-control. Everything looks the same â€“ the suicidal enemies, the urban environments, the upgrades for your truck. The gameâ€™s sole purpose seems to be to cause as much irritation as possible.
The developers have definitely read Racing Game 101. The expected modes â€“ destruction derby, race, time trial, crash mode â€“ are all present, as is boosting, ice-like handling, unrealistic physics and a learning curve thatâ€™s sedate enough for your Gran. You hit the accelerator, only breaking for the occasional turn. Never mind the oncoming traffic, youâ€™re in a truck, Itâ€™s all there for your boost-filling taking. Throw in a convoluted narrative and questionable replay value in the form of â€˜medalsâ€™ and youâ€™ve got yourself perfect bargain bin material.
It might play like Euro Truck Simulator on crack, but amid the tiresome sound design and copy-paste modelling, itâ€™s difficult to see any high. As with any game, there are multiplayer components, but finding someone online is more difficult than discovering the Holy Grail.
Brash, Boring and utterly avoidable.
This game was provided for review by GamersGate and is published by Headup Games for the PC