Publisher: THQ/Empire Int
Release Date: June 19, 2003
The last time gamers got a taste of what it must be like to be a pro-trucker was a couple years ago with Sega’s entertaining (albeit short and unbalanced) 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker. The time is again upon us to don our sweat-infused adjustable cap and get behind the wheel of a monstrous highway death contraption, but this time we have UK-based developer Eutechnyx (Le Mans 24 Hours) to thank. Combining road-hog ethics, rednecks, and an economy-based system for transporting goods to and fro – Big Mutha Truckers has it all, and a MSRP of only 20 bucks to boot. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have the gumption to remain fun for the entirety of its 60-day campaign.
The game piles on plenty of white-trash personality, before long you’ll be slurring words and courting cousins with the best of’em. You’ll be able to choose from four unique characters when you start the game, all of whom are the apparently unintentional off-spring of one Ma Jackson. Ma Jackson owns the family trucking business Big Mutha Truckers, but she is getting old and wants to retire in style. First she’ll have to decide which of her kids will inherit the business. Her logic is simple: the one who comes home with the biggest pile of cash at the end of a 60-day period wins the family business. You can play as Rawkus, an uncharacteristically stylish redneck; Earl, a typical down home fat ass with missing teeth; Cletus, the token brain-dead who sports a well-worn truckers cap; and Bobbie Sue, the equally astute daughter of the bunch.
You’ll begin the game with $25,000 and are given 60 days to turn that relatively paltry chunk of change into a fortune. By truckin’ back and forth between various cities you’ll be able to buy merchandise low and sell it high. Some cities may not offer any profit margins on your returns so it is always good to talk to shop owners and local folk in order to get the inside track on who wants what. Each trip you take between locations will account for a single day, so plenty of time can easily be wasted if you’re not sure where to go to turn a profit. Needless driving can also take a toll on your finances since gassing up these 18 wheelers certainly isn’t cheap and some commodities that you purchase may go bad after a certain amount of time.
Aside from buying low and selling high in a constant pursuit of profit, you’ll also have the option of upgrading your big rig, which can easily pay off in dividends over time. Available add-ons include things like turbochargers, flatbed extensions, and enhanced braking systems. Some commodities can only be transported by switching out your flatbed for a A/C trailer or tanker, so some amount of customization is necessary for certain areas of the game.
As the days of truckin’ begin to fly by you’ll occasionally be able to take on special missions (all of which are rehashed in the game’s “bonus” Mission Mode) or be challenged to a race by a rival driver. While these activities do help to keep the action going at a pretty consistent clip, there is no denying the fact that the majority of the game is spent doing the same thing over and over again. Sixty times over, to be exact.
While on the road you’ll deal with more than just Sunday drivers and unlucky business owners, you’ll also have to contend with cops who will attempt to chase your ass down and inflict damage on your vehicle until you lose them, as well as renegade motorcyclists who will attempt to jack your rig’s payload unless you shake them off before they get a chance to do so. A news ticker constantly scrolls across the bottom of the screen to keep you abreast of various goings on in the area, most of the related information is purely for comedic effect though it is nice to know when the cops are on to you or when a certain city is in dire need of a specific commodity.
Visually, Big Mutha Truckers is nothing special, it looks nearly identical on the Xbox as it does on PS2, which is to say noticeably lacking. The environments that you’ll drive around in are rendered well enough, with plenty of fictional business and detailed stretches of road. The character models, however, are composed of a minimal amount of poly-whirls and look far too unnatural and stiff – their mouths don’t even mouth when they talk. But, the graphics engine is rock-solid and stays at a comfortable 60-fps throughout, so that’s a plus.
The audio presentation isn’t half bad though. Like Vice City you can switch between radio stations and listen to different genres of music or, if you’re feeling a little disconnected with the outside world, you can tune into some radio talk shows to listen to some redneck banter that is actually amusing. Voice work is decidedly over-the-top, though not in a good way. Sound effects effectively represent the various hazards of driving drunk behind the wheel of a big rig – the sounds of twisting metal, crashing into structures, and horn honking are all accounted for, though you may not notice them since the soundtrack actually offers up some pretty interesting tunes.
All in all, Big Mutha Truckers is an entertaining ride for the first couple hours, but after you realize that you’ll be doing the same thing for the duration of the game you’ll quickly grow tired of its simplistic formula. The economy-based gameplay system instills a certain innovation into the game that is rarely seen in arcade-style trucking games but the gameplay is basically hit and miss, so to speak. So keep on truckin’, but steer clear of high expectations or you might end up disappointed.
Score : 7.3/10
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