Bus Simulator 21 – Review
Follow Genre: Driving Simulator
Developer: Stillalive studios
Publisher: Astragon Entertainment GmbH
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PC

Bus Simulator 21 – Review

Site Score
4.9
Good: A lot of cool busses to play with
Bad: Not an enjoyable experience, Needs a lot of work
User Score
2.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 2.0/10 (1 vote cast)

It has been a solid three years since we first tried out the Bus Simulator games. The PC version was well-received but its console port and DLC weren’t that great. After all this time, one can speculate how much everything would have been improved since the first game. Sadly, our expectations quickly went down the drain upon trying out the latest installment of the franchise. We are still wondering how this release has almost destroyed the solid foundation that the first game had.

Story

You start a transportation company in a city where the daily commute has become a struggle and people are longing for a way to get to their destination safely. You create your avatar and start building up your own bus company. This goes much faster than in the first game and is slightly more lucrative, but it still builds on the same core principles. These games are known to not really have a story, as you just drive a bus and get people to work, shops or restaurants, and make the town a better place. As your company grows, it will attract more and more investors, allowing you to expand your empire over the whole city. In this game, you also have the option to go CO2 neutral, as this title introduces electric busses to the lineup.

Graphics

Most of the time when games get a successor their overall quality increases, but sadly this time it’s the other way around. Not that Bus Simulator 18 was a graphical masterpiece, but this new game doesn’t look great and runs with stutters and frame drops. Even on a decent gaming setup, the game has a subpar performance and will not even come close to the desired 60FPS. More than often we found ourselves stuck on 40-50FPS, or lower. If you wish to experience a smoother experience, you’ll have to turn down the graphical quality to low, but then the game just looks atrocious. There is still a certain level of detail present in the game, but be sure not to check your rearview mirror too much, as it will look as if you’re gazing in a crappily rendered other dimension.

Sound

For a game that doesn’t look the part, the sounds might make up for a bit. The city sounds lively, as the many traffic jams will have people screaming and honking their horns. Passengers will chit-chat about daily events and will throw in a joke left and right. “What was Mozart’s favorite fruit? BaNANANAAA!” is one of those jokes you’ll come to hate after a few sessions, as it gets repeated over and over again. If you are fed up with people talking behind you, then just put your radio on full blast and enjoy the copyright-free music in different bland genres.

Gameplay

Bus Simulator 21 is a simulator game where you both drive and manage your own transportation company. It all starts by designing your character and the game is very inclusive in terms of avatar design. Your avatar can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors. Getting dressed is a bit more casual, as you can choose between uniforms or day-to-day outfits. Once you are done, you get the option to choose between three different busses. These can all be test-driven, and your first vehicle is on the house. Most busses act and handle the same. There might be a difference in stats, but most of them are very clunky and buggy to drive with. Sometimes it feels like the larger the bus is, the easier you can maneuver it, while in general, the handling feels as if you’re playing on your PS2 again. Instead of the game feeling like Euro Truck Simulator, you’ll enter a world of poor handling, buggy crashes, and no sense of control. This feeling is only worsened by the game’s tutorial that handles nothing of importance.

One thing that was sad about the previous game is that there weren’t a lot of buses to play with. Our prayers have been answered, and now there are so many that you can’t even count them. They range from small, regular busses to electric ones and even a huge double-decker makes the cut. There will be a bus fit for your company; if you can afford it. Once you have your vehicle of choice, you can paint it to the color(s) of your choosing. You can perhaps even opt to make a very inclusive statement? Slap on some promotional stickers for extra income and presto, the real bus experience is a fact.

Having a bus is one thing, but driving is a whole other world. The game doesn’t handle well and feels buggy and choppy at best. In the city the frame drops are bad but the potholes are worse. If you are a sucker for the perfect score, then Bus Simulator 21 will be more frustrating than playing Dark Souls with your grandma. You need to keep your customers happy, as this will improve the bus line’s level. Due to this, A.I. drivers are more proficient and are needed for overall progression.

Controlling everything feels decent except for the navigation in the menus. Interacting with the map and altering routes is badly explained, not allowing newer players to understand how the game truly works. You’ll need to remember many buttons if you want full control over your vehicle, but you can either get random help from on-screen prompts or use the physical dashboard in your bus.

Conclusion

Bus Simulator 21 feels as if the developers quickly wanted to release a new installment, thinking the fans wouldn’t notice the dip in quality. The overall quality is worse than its predecessor and we just couldn’t get into this one as much as the previous one. The game feels badly optimized, buggy, and sluggish at best, which reminds us a bit of the console port of Bus Simulator 18. With some much-needed love and care, this one can still become a great game. However, if the developers already aim for the next release, rather than fix this one, fans of the series might just stop buying these games altogether.

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Rating: 2.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Bus Simulator 21 – Review, 2.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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