It can be said that every genre is a niche market, something that appeals to a specific group more than other titles. That would explain the rabid nature of its fans; for instance, some people attribute the popularity of the first person shooter to the adrenaline rush its fast twitch play offers. Others might swear upon realistic simulations, which many sports franchises own up to. So what happens if you put out something that spoofs not only a popular genre, but other cultural stereotypes as well? What’s more, what happens if its successful enough to warrant a sequel? Eutechnyx and THQ ran into this minor dilemma with their send up of trucking culture and the people that drive it in their shipping simulation, Big Mutha Truckers 2.
Truckers 2 starts off with a simple enough premise that expands upon the plot from the previous title. Ma Jackson, the leader of the Jackson clan of truckers, is getting ready to retire. Unfortunately, the sheriff throws the book at her, arresting Ma for tax evasion and other crimes. Fortunately for her, the security in the county jail is relatively lax, so she can have a cell phone and outside communication relatively easily. She calls up her children and asks all four of them to raise enough money to buy off the jury in her trial so she can be found innocent.
Players will have the chance to pick between Rawkus, Earl, Cletus or the lone girl of the Jackson kids, Bobbie Sue at the beginning of the game. From there, you embark on trying to rescue mom by entering the town store and loading up on goods and products. These aren’t the standard items that you’d find on the shelf in a customary store, though. You’ll find things like organic buckshot and dynamite amongst the items you’ll carry, along with other objects that you’ll need specialized trucks or containers for. These can be easily purchased for enough money, although you’ll have to pay a fine to customize your truck for that haul. However, you’re not simply carrying items from point A to B; you’re going to need to check a chart to see which city needs a certain good and will be willing to pay extra so you can make a profit on the deal. If you’re also willing to take the risk, you can transport illegal items to cities, although you increase the chances of getting busted by the police.
Once you’ve selected the town that you’re going to head off to, you’re given the chance to choose from three time bonuses to wager your driving skills against. If you manage to pull into the trucking station in time, you gain the bonus in full, but if you’re a half a second late, you can kiss it goodbye. After your time and bonuses have been tallied and your bank account adjusted, you’ll be able to sell your goods and restock, or enter one of the bars in the city. There you can talk to the townsfolk or the bartender, play a casino game such as poker or acey-deucey, or acquire a side mission. These side missions take you out of your big rig and put you behind the wheel of a limo, SUV or other car as you try to do things like demolish trucks selling “filth” or driving a celebrity to his appearances.
While it might seem like you’ll be able to do a large amount of jobs or tasks in the Truckers 2 world, you’ll really discover that the gameplay itself is extremely restrictive. You’re only given about three or four places in a town to move between, and inside those areas, you’ve only got a limited number of choices. Similarly, once you’re on the road you’re basically on a virtual rail. Although shortcuts may pop up here and there, they can’t be used to explore the world at your leisure. This means that this is an extremely static playing space that randomly will throw something at you. Some of this can be traffic that you can destroy for points, sometimes it’s hobos that you can pick up and sometimes it’s fending off threats to your car, such as cops, biker gangs and ufos. However, this defensive stand is relatively minor, as you can run your trailer or cab into the cops and bikers to destroy them, and you simply need to swerve to avoid the ufo attacks.
Obviously, this doesn’t make you any more vulnerable to arrest, so most of the time you’ll find yourself transporting illegal goods simply to get extra money and smashing through any obstacle that gets in your way. This makes you way too powerful for most opponents in the game. However, there are moments where you’ll find you can’t smash through objects and your vehicle will get stuck. Considering that some objects don’t seem like they’d hamper your rig at all, yet they manage to jackknife your trailer, you’ll find yourself somewhat cautious whenever an inevitable collision comes up. Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit. One of the largest issues is that big rigs simply aren’t very maneuverable at all, nor are they speed demons. This means that you’ll find yourself fighting with your machine often as you try to make turns, recover from accidents and pull into the truck stops. You can bet that a large number of bonuses will be lost simply because you can’t make a turn with these behemoths moving down the road.
While the graphics aren’t horrible, they’re not abysmal. You’re looking at generic textures for most models, with the exception of certain icons and pop-ups, which have been animated and detailed to make them stand out from the background. Ditto with any special effects, which don’t exactly seem that special. Fortunately the sound fares much better, with 19 licensed songs that feel appropriate to the tone of the game. However, while the songs feel like they match the environment, the voice acting is a mixed bag. Sure, it feels somewhat decent, particularly with some of the timing of the jokes that the game constantly makes. With a subtitle like Truck Me Harder, you can expect there to be a certain amount of risqué humor. Unfortunately, there are moments where the jokes and the commentary drags on and on for much longer than it should, making the comedy feel more forced than it already is. If you’re a fan of puerile humor, you’re in for a treat.
If the game wasn’t so blatantly repetitive and restrictive, the humor so blandly childish and the control so poor, this could’ve had the potential to be a somewhat creative game. However, the fun of this value title quickly wanes once you’ve run through a few missions and notice the main problems with the game. Unless you’re a fan of that kind of humor or a devotee to driving, you’re probably going to leave this bargain title at the bottom of the bin.