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Bus Driver

Score: 65%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Meridian4
Developer: SCS Software
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation/ Racing (Simulation)/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Oh my, Bus Driver. While general simulation games like this are nothing new, it still hits you when you have to say it: this is a game where you drive a bus. It's not exactly everyone's fantasy. Still, stranger concepts have worked.

Bus Driver features clean graphics that otherwise don't impress. At the highest settings, vehicles have a slight shine to them, but you have to look for it. It's definitely not the buffed and slick shine of Gran Turismo. Anyway, we're talking about buses here. To the bus enthusiasts out there, all one of you, I will say the models are decent. It's not as if you'll get lost in the details of every bus, but they look like they're supposed to. Other than your bus and the other cars on the road, there are no signs of life in the game. The people you pick up at your stops don't even move. They are the only breathing things in the landscape. And it's a shame, because with this game, you've got plenty of time to watch the scenery go by.

Sound is pretty decent - again, nothing special. There's no music outside of the menu screen, probably to keep an air of realism. There's the distinct sound of the brakes, the heavy rumble of the engine: all things you'd recognize from any bus ride. Unfortunately, the sounds seem to be recycled for all the buses, so if you are that bus aficionado I was talking about earlier, this probably isn't the game you're looking for.


No, the selling point of Bus Driver seems to be the gameplay itself. And the point of this game is to drive safely and responsibly. Yes, that's right. You'll use turn signals when changing lanes, stop at stop lights, and drive safely and reasonably.

It's admittedly a novel concept. It's kind of like taking a virtual driving exam. Heck, I would have loved to have this to play around with during driver's ed. back in high school. But now that my daily drive is more or less a grind, I don't sit back and say, "Hey I wish I could see what it's like to drive a bus." It's just not a job I envy.

To its credit, however, Bus Driver can be a strangely satisfying game. You pick up passengers, and you get them where they need to go, steady and safely. You'll get that warm, fuzzy feeling of a job well done. Outside of that, there's just not much excitement, and no real "winning" the game. It's a nice novelty, but something like this needs some bigger incentives built in if it's going to keep anyone interested for long.


Bus Driver's difficulty is not easy to measure because the goals themselves are rather unclear. Do you drive as safe as you can or as fast as you can? You can try to do both, but you'll almost certainly end up scoring lower in some respect. The problem is, you often don't know how well you're doing because if you're watching the score, you're taking your eyes off the screen. And there's no real target score to hit, it seems. You'll get different colored stars depending on how well you do, but there's no indication of what these stars mean or where the cutoff is. You can't really lose either. You can scrape and crash your way through the course, but as long as you deliver all the passengers to their destinations, you'll be able to move on to the next course.

Game Mechanics:

Bus Driver drives, well, like a bus. So you'll have to slow everything down, deal turns that are way too sharp and sometimes have to roll over the curb, and generally slow down. You're supposed to brake early and gradually, and that's actually a big issue with the game. If you have to make a sudden stop, you have to pump the brake several times to actually get any kind of stopping power. It's a challenge when you're also trying to keep your passengers calm, but you're running head-on into the back of a car.

One other issue with the game is that the buses seem to handle the same. A huge commercial bus feels the same as a small yellow school bus. Terrain does vary, and there are icy roads, but overall the experience is pretty flat and unchanging.

It may go without saying, but one thing you can't do is play with the physics or crash your bus. Your bus won't show damage and you'll never be able to flip it in a spectacular crash. You can knock down a light pole or two, but they never break, they just dislodge and fall over as if they were just plucked out. After catering to overly sensitive passengers who scream if you apply the brakes even a touch too hard, you'll see why it's frustrating not to be able to let loose every once in a while. But hey, safety is the name of the game here.

Bus Driver is a novelty, and a unique diversion. It will probably get you laughs and start some conversations, but beyond that there's not much going on. A free trial of the game is available from the SCS software website, so I'd definitely say to try this one before you do an impulse buy.

-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

Minimum System Requirements:

CPU: 1GHz Pentium III or equivalent, RAM: 256MB, Video Card: OpenGL 1.3 compatible 64MB AGP with hardware T&L (see compatibility), Hard Disk: 300MB free space, Operating System: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista with DirectX 9 installed

Test System:

Windows XP, 3.20 GigaHertz Intel Pentium 4, 4 GB Ram, RADEON X850, Creative SB Audigy 2 ZS

Sony PlayStation 2 Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters Windows Sins of a Solar Empire

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