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- June 25, 2022
Autobahn Simulator is back with its 3rd installment, where you take on the role of a highway patrol officer in Germany. You will be tasked with keeping order to the autobahn, checking up on crashes, handing out fines and making sure everyone is safe while driving. Sadly it suffers the same problems as its predecessors.
" Police The Highway "
I personally love simulators, and the genre has been missing a decent “routine” police simulator. Sure we got swat simulators or similar, but nothing that lets us do daily everyday tasks like doing speed checks, securing accident scenes and just overall making sure people are safe to drive. Autobahn Simulator has been around for a while now and it offers the player the chance to do said tasks. Every instalment we get, they add more new features or “mechanics” to simulate the everyday life of an autobahn officer, but the same problems still persist, so really at what cost?
When you first enter Autobahn Simulator 3, you will need to create your own officer. Technically this is more just picking your gender, then selecting from one of the three predefined faces the game currently has, than actually getting to create your own custom officer. I was severely disappointed since the game is played in a 3rd person perspective and you are only playing your officer, to not be able to customize it: it feels kind of bad as it also takes away a certain “attachment” you will have to your own player.
I was excited when I first selected my character to be able to see what I am doing in the world. The commanding officer assigned me my daily duties, which was kind of hard to sit through as the animations still look like they have not been worked on since the release of Autobahn Simulator 2 way back in 2017. He then welcomed me back, as this was my first day back on the job after an accident caused by those pesky street racers, and now I have a personal vendetta to bring a stop to those races. Sadly I can not do that yet, and my CO recommends that I start off easy and make my way back up the ranks; he then offers me to take a case (tutorial), or to go straight onto patrol, and in this instance I went for the tutorial case.
The tutorial mission consists in locating a stolen car, and for the first time the game will introduce you to the highway patrolling that it revolves around. You will have to stop the car matching the report description, and then the tutorial will explain to you in depth the steps that follow a highway stop.
" Same Problems Different Year. "
In approaching the car while driving your patrol vehicle, I realized how clunky and unresponsive the driving still feels: the game stutters majorly after you pass the 60km/h mark, and for me the car had severe jitterbug, bouncing up and down my screen. When you get close enough to the vehicle you need to pull over (ghost driven, by the way), you bring up a key-binded menu to access the “stop car” option. After a 5 seconds timer, the game will cut into a loading screen, and you’ll find yourself out of your car, ready to dispense highway justice. I cannot describe the relief i felt to be, for once, on the other side of the window, as we all know very well how stressful these random checks feel.
I found that the tutorial helped a lot, and really took the time to make me understand how to properly do my daily job: first it asked me to check the driver’s license against vehicle registration, matching the name, face, and class of car. After that, i needed to check the car for defects, including tread depth, lights condition, vehicle taxes and the presence of emergency equipment, such as an in-date first aid kit and a warning triangle.
Then it came to driver testing with a breathalyzer test, since I had plausible clues that suggested my poor victim was under the influence of alcohol while driving. Each task has a little help menu to further guide you as your inspection progresses. After all the checks you deem necessary have been completed, you will then have the choice to either let the driver go, or fine/arrest them depending on the type and severity of infractions you noticed. You will get experience as a reward that fluctuates based on your performance and accuracy on the job. Needless to say, my first driver ended up in jail.
" Stop! Check Repeat "
Most of your time in the game will be spent driving about the open world (autobahn), doing random speed checks and stops while waiting for calls from dispatch. You will also find collectibles around the open world, in forms of hotspots and warning triangles that are left at the side of the road. I felt the need to do quite a bit of random stops and checks, as this is one of the main ways you gain the experience needed to level up. Your experience points are not only used to help level up your officer rank, but also used to upgrade your character stats, get new vehicles and even dialogue options, so it is very important to go out there and grind. Once you do get calls through your radio, it breaks up the normal gameplay by offering you cases such as sorting out escaped animals or attending an accident scene. The only problem is you also feel above the law, as proven by the fact that during my whole playthrough I was not punished for reckless driving, speeding and running red lights. This severely takes away from the immersion of a police simulator, and a function of being reprimanded by taking away your XP or levels would have been a better design choice.
Depending on your office rank you will get access to new cases: you start with basic cases like attending minor road accident sites, and as your rank increases so does the complexity of the situations you will be thrown into, making your way up to even robberies that can happen at the gas stops. Once you have unlocked the case types, they can now appear at random times across the radio. I did miss a few calls at times as I was busy, but thankfully they have added a nice feature of being able to go to the case board and the police station to pick them up. While there, you will also gain access to new “random” topics to talk with your colleagues about; it is a nice feature to have, as it really adds another level of immersion into the game and expands more into the life of the officer rather than just their tasks.
There are definitely a multitude of different cases coming over the radio (once they are unlocked) to keep the game as non-repetitive as possible, which helps as the same voice lines over and over again can make the game feel stale. Despite all of this the game feels really unbearable to play in its current state. With its severe graphics bugs, the frame drops that make it feel like it could crash at any moment and animations that feel clunky and take you even further away from the immersion a simulator game is going for. The content and features are there, but unless the developers finally take onboard the feedback, the franchise will continue to suffer and decline. It really is a shame because I am fan of the concept and after the 3rd instalment, I expected more and better implementation.
- A fine concept for a simulator, Too many bugs to make it Immersive5.5
" Autobahn Police simulator is now on the 3rd instalment, The game offers new features, to give your more variety and flexibility on your tasks. Sadly some of the feedback from the previous games was still not addressed and the game just feels clunky and unoptimized "