As an avid sim racer, I like to seek out new and interesting ways to go racing and FIA Truck Racing Championship is certainly a unique entry into the racing collective. Unfortunately some huge bugs and some cut corners make it less of a fun purchase than I initially thought it would be.
Firstly, the good stuff! FIA Truck Racing Championship takes the European Truck Racing Championships and the real world tracks into the game. Some of them are tracks we have seen elsewhere like Nurburgring, Misano and Silverstone. There are also some great additions from around the world too including Fuji, Laguna Seca and Winton Raceway. I enjoyed discovering the lesser-known tracks like Zolder and Winton. The trucks are all official too, not that there are any differences between them. The game handles differently between the European and the World Championships but the actual trucks in each series handle the same. I found the European trucks to be more fun because they felt more stable and more responsive. The World trucks would snap from understeer to oversteer very quickly and I found myself snaking around a bit whilst getting used to them. Thankfully a handy driving school is provided at the start of the game that helps you acclimatise to the way how trucks drive. It does a good job across 15 lessons and reminds me of earlier Milestone games.
When you hit the track you’ll notice that things are very slow and very sluggish. You are a truck driver after all! The big thing here is that you’ll need to plan a lot earlier because when you brake, it’ll take a while for the brakes to work and for the weight of your truck to shift to stop. It also makes you brake in a straight line where possible because a truck loves to pendulum. This happens not just when you brake but also when you accelerate. The changes of the weight distribution makes the truck snake about a little bit. On harder difficulties this is really where races can be won and lost.
The other big quirk of FIA Truck Racing Championship is that you need to cool your brakes. Each braking point raises the temperatures and they only cool down after a long time driving down a straight. You’ll need to spray water on them but you only have a small water tank so you need to use what you have effectively. On shorter races, you can spam the water on all the heavy breaking points and be fine but the longer the race, the more you need to think about it. It also allows you to utilise lift and coast measures where you feather off the throttle earlier.
Now for the bad sides of the game. The grass does not slow you down and the gravel barely does anything. The textures are just a bit more slippery and the AI uses the grass for their racing line far too often. Speaking of the AI, it is wildly inconsistent. They drive off the track, the hit each other all the time, they brake on straights and cannot reverse out of trouble after hitting the barriers. The braking on the straight seems to be tied to undulations on the track, so when they crest a hill, they back off. It makes the game very easy to win against the AI.
The championship structure is a bit strange too. There is only 12 trucks on the track per race but the qualifying sessions is split into two modes. Initially you have 12 trucks vying for superpole… where the top 10 go through. Its a bit pointless. Superpole then is a single lap attack. It’d be better to just have one or the other. Each round also consists of four races on the same track too and you qualify for rounds 1 and 3 separately. The results from rounds 1 and 3 reverse the grid for rounds 2 and 4. With only 12 trucks though, it just feels faffy.
Career mode could have been interesting but the entire experience is bugged. At the end of the first season of your career hot seating for different teams, you are meant to be able to build your own team and upgrade truck parts. It doesn’t happen. The game is completely bugged on PS4 and it doesn’t let you progress beyond the first season. This happened after a patch and it doesn’t appear to be getting fixed. I have no idea what happens beyond the first season and I don’t think we ever will. That kind of dismissal is unforgivable.
That’s a shame as there is something here. Is it niche? Absolutely, but it is enjoyable enough if you don’t mind the slow-motion speeds you’ll race in. The brake cooling is interesting and the graphics look decent – especially in the wet. However, if the game doesn’t allow you to access its contents properly, I simply cannot recommend it.
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