Coming after three years Bus Simulator 18Stillalive Studios is back with the next entry in its hit franchise. Bus Simulator 21 Push things to a higher level with more freedom, simplified mechanics, and a richer open world map to explore.
In many ways, it feels like a more cohesive experience, but there are other approaches where the long development cycle seems to be underutilized. This means that these “new” buses can use very little engine oil.
Where is the novelty? Bus Simulator 2 Undoubtedly shines is definitely his new map for Angel Shores. It is a very cool piece of virtual landscape, with very detailed views and buildings. The weaving work is crisp, and each of its 21 districts has a very unique look and feel, allowing them to stand out from one another. Not to mention that all sims are just beautiful. There are plenty of environmental and special effects like reflections, wind and rain animations and heavy reflections that prove this is the 2021 release.
Another flexible technology is that the entire map is now a seamless open world. Once loaded, you rarely have to load again, no matter when you need to travel fast. Having played a sim with an SSD, I can report that from starting up to jumping into the game it always takes just a few seconds. This definitely comes in handy when taking full advantage of the revamped bus route system.
Unlike its predecessor, Bus Simulator 21 It allows players to create new bus routes while flying during a session. Just go to the map menu and start planning away. Bus routes can be linked together efficiently by checking the different characteristics of each of the stops.
Each bus station has a different level of demand and different peak hours. Routes will be considered “balanced” if the most compatible stops are linked together. For example, having a route consisting of three low-demand and three high-demand breakpoints would be balanced. But, three low-demand stops with only one high-demand stop would be unbalanced. Instead, a route of six stops, with five peaking at night, would be more profitable than two in high demand at night and three in high demand at day. Some missions will specifically require that the routes be directed day or night, while others will specifically require that certain stops be included.
An additional layer of depth to the track-building system is the RPG-esque experience system. Not only do you gain experience as a player, but each bus stop also gains experience any time it’s introduced during the route—but only by the player. AI drivers can only profit from the roads. Once each bus stop in the area is leveled, the EXP level of the area will also increase. Again, some missions require leveling up in order to advance in campaign mode.
Unfortunately, Bus Simulator 21 Doesn’t do a very great job of explaining small nuances like this. In fact, I would say that its user interface contains too much and too little information at once. Some parts of it, particularly the map screen, can be said to be a bit overwhelming. But, there are moments when you have a goal, but the sim does not explain exactly what is needed to achieve it. Hopefully the developers can make some tweaks so as not to frustrate new or unofficial players.
Speaking of frustration, my grip is mainly on the most important part of the sim: the driving mechanics. Real life buses aren’t the easiest machines to control by any means, but these virtual creations almost seem too cumbersome to maneuver. While some buses, especially minibuses, roll and turn a little more easily than others, the overall physics system seemed strange to me.
The pits are there
Even though I’ve been struggling with steering sensitivity and assist ratios all my time with the sim using an Xbox One controller, I haven’t found anything that feels “quite right”. I wasn’t even expecting to have this problem because I recently purchased a Thrustmaster T80 wheel for such occasions. While he was loved to use with him American Truck SimulatorAnd Bus Simulator 21 It simply appears that it is only halfway through at release time. While the sim recognizes the steering axle, pedal, and brake, it fails to register any of the buttons, leaving a lot of the gameplay mechanics missing. Switching between wheel, console and keyboard to fulfill each task would be very long.
The really good point is that the console support is well integrated at least thanks to the movement wheel. This wheel allows you to control many additional features in the cockpit of the bus, which far outnumber the buttons on any console. Still, the core of the gameplay Bus Simulator 21 It remains very fun. Especially now that you can seamlessly switch between tracks without leaving the session making everything flow. If you get bored of one of the tracks, just pass it to an AI-powered driver, then jump to another route just moments later.
A new route can also be created while riding on the first bus, after which you can either assign an available bus to the new route or reset an active bus at will without any penalties. All that freedom makes things feel fast, but progress is still slow and steady, whether it’s for EXP or cash. At least when it comes to money, you can always sell one of your buses for $100,000 fast.
Clean the windshield
Bus Simulator 21 It obviously has some strong points, but in addition to the issues mentioned above, there are other areas that I hope to see patched up to help its engine really purr. AI pedestrians are everywhere, but there isn’t much variety in models. Voice acting is plentiful as well, but there is a similar lack of diversity in the number of different actors. I ended up completely disrupting the dialogue just to achieve peace. They react at least realistically as vehicles approach by increasing speed, which indicates an increase in intelligence. But, my fleet of AI drivers don’t seem to be as smart as taking some turns seems to be an issue, as well as getting away from stops where they tend to stay for a noticeable amount of time.
But what really interrupts this great ride is Sim’s performance. While I already sang in praise of her graphic sincerity, Bus Simulator 21 Seems to be a bit tricky on resource requirements. When not driving, the sim will hit 60fps (v synchronous) on my machine with an RTX 2060 and Core i7. However, bus control almost always drops the frame rate instantly to the 40fps range, sometimes even lower. Playing with the settings helped a bit, but it wasn’t as smooth as I expected. Perhaps more optimization is needed, as one of my colleagues noticed similarly choppy performance on a more capable device.
Despite these caveats, Bus Simulator 21 Still a step in the right direction for the series. For better or worse, warriors in the last entry will find a lot of familiarity regarding the list of vehicles, and the second map which is only 18 bus sim Seaside Valley is back (albeit with a new road builder kit, but it’s a lot less visually pleasing than Angel Shoes). However, Stillalive Studios seems to be on the right track here. It can still provide a more realistic sim experience, and some corrections will make this even better.