Review: Construction Simulator 3

I reviewed Construction Simulator 2 a while ago and found it quite fun despite expecting it to be awful. To my surprise then, whilst expecting Construction Simulator 3 to be quite fun, it isn’t. And it’s borderline awful.

Number 2 had you taking on a construction company and getting some help from a guy called Pete. This one mirrors that but makes it dumber. As a successful video games developer, you’ve made your money and fancy a change of pace. So you start a construction business. The only issue is that you have no idea how to even drive a truck.

You’ll get a basic tutorial on driving the said truck, which seems surprisingly complex (so it seems the tutorial was needed). Driving to your home base is the first task, and running red lights and hitting textureless polygons in the shape of cars will cost you money (although you can smash into any by the side of the road without penalty). Once you get there you’re told to take the truck and move some pallets which have fallen over. And this is where the tutorial sort of ends, you’ll begin navigating an over-complex UI with a multitude of different controls to try and operate a crane winch and pick these pallets back up. I rage quit after 10 minutes to try again another day.

I went back to Construction Simulator 2 to try and understand what’s happened here. They’re not the easiest or simplest games to control, but Number 2 did a much better job of explaining what and how to do it but also isn’t punished by the ambition of creating a more complex world without the power to do so. This sounds like a weird thing to say on a Playstation 4 game, but like the previous version, Construction Simulator 3 is a converted mobile port – with seemingly little effort or attention to upgrade the visuals, frame rate (which is bad) or rethink the controls.

There are a lot of different vehicles and job types – officially licensed too (if you’re familiar with the construction world – I’m not so had to check). The range of different things you’ll be getting involved with is pretty impressive to be fair, and it does have a rather calming, sedative effect which brings a nice change from the classic shooty-man games. Nonetheless, Construction Simulator 3 doesn’t add enough improvements for me over the previous title to really warrant it’s existence – it certainly more noticeably makes things worse. And this is impressive given my experience of the second game was on the Switch, and runs considerably better than this on Playstation 4 Pro.

Special mention has to go to the music, which is an interesting blend of electric rock with guitar riffs. It actually suits quite well, which is weird as it probably shouldn’t but then how to do you score a soundtrack to a construction simulator? It’s a shame that there isn’t building site chatter, and it’s just text on screen really with indicators popping up to show you where to go. Oddly, they’re not that clear though as I did frequently find myself driving in the wrong direction.

And yet… there’s something oddly addictive about it all. Any game with a steady grin has a kind of comforting appeal, but it feels to me as though those developing the Construction Simulator series could take a step back and think about what people are enjoying about the game and capitalising on it. There is an awful lot of direction and guidance at points and not at others. Lifting barrels – up to your own devices. Drive to your home base – a series of specific checkpoints even though I’ve driven there many times before. There doesn’t need to be that many checkpoints.

All in all, it’s a bit frustrating. Quality of life settings have taken a step back from the previous game and there seems to be more hand-holding and not enough new vehicles and mission types to warrant the upgrades. Whilst I can’t compare version to version on the same machine, Construction Simulator 2 has a much better performance on the Nintendo Switch, which speaks volumes to how disappointing this update is.

Reviewed on PS4

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