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You know, it honestly feels like a joke at first. There’s thousands of games out there – some offer compelling storylines, others offer non-stop thrills, and pretty much all of them let us escape the dull monotony and grind of daily life... And then there’s Euro Truck Simulator 2. Which, unsurprisingly, is a simulation game where you drive trucks around a crude rendition of Europe. Okaaaay.

To emphasise the absurdity of things, you only need to look at the basic gameplay loop that’s taking place here; you pick a job from a list of options in your area. You go and hitch up your cargo. Then you slowly trundle towards your destination, taking into account every road law and speed limit, and spending the great majority of your time on vast highways and never-ending strips of asphalt. After dragging yourself to your destination for 20 to 30 real-time minutes, you drop off the cargo – and do the whole thing again.

Suffice to say, then, that this isn’t for everyone; there’s a good chance a few of you have fell asleep merely reading the last paragraph. If you do actually get to the point where you boot up the game for the first time, it even does a lot to try and immediately frighten you off... You’re instantly met with a plethora of menus that are incredibly overwhelming, allowing you to do everything from create a profile to adjusting your X-axis sensitivity for... Well, something. The tutorial then doesn’t help matters, basically stemming down to telling you “Just drive the truck”, and then buggering off and leaving you to work out how exactly you do that in the first place.

Yet give it a chance to get things rolling and – amazingly and most crucially – it really works. There’s a bunch of reasons why this is the case, that go way beyond the primal satisfaction that comes with driving a hulking great big rig. For one, there’s an incredibly calming sense of slow progression constantly burning away in the background, with the sat-nav in the corner of your screen always slowly ticking down the miles left towards your destination. It’s surprisingly satisfying to watch the numbers keep dropping, and finally whittling a distance that seemed impossible to begin with down to nothing.

Secondly, there's the option to turn on your own music while driving, or even tune in to actual radio stations across Europe. Set one of these up and hit the perfect moment, where the right song comes on as you watch the sun slowly rise and peep through the trees, and it all just feels… Right. Heck, take my word for it when I say that having AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” blasting out your speakers as you’re racing down the road at max speed is something that’s hard to beat. If you’re daring, you can even pop a video or TV show up in another window and zone out... But just like real life, the chances of you suddenly finding yourself wrapped round the nearest streetlight rapidly increase if you do this. Still, it’s fun to try. In the game, that is.

There’s also a healthy degree of strategy mixed in as well. Your truck needs fuel and your driver needs rest, and managing the two becomes a delicate balancing act of effective time management, where you are constantly checking out your route and seeing how far you can push yourself before you literally fall asleep at the wheel. While it takes way too long if you’re not wishing to put yourself in a position of extreme bank debt (so much so it actually gets a little frustrating), you can even make enough money to hire other truckers to your cause. Suddenly you’re busy plotting out an empire, trucks roaming across all of Europe, and your hard work being rewarded with a skyrocketing bank account. You can even make the core game more complicated, if you’re that way inclined. An automatic gearbox might be the obvious choice, but there’s nothing stopping you from having to switch through all the gears manually, or even hooking a wheel up and going totally crazy. The choice, as they say, is yours.

It’s also worth pointing out all the mods that are available to enhance or change things up – from the big changes to the little tweaks, there’s a lot you can bolt on to the base experience. Whether it be branding the sides of trucks with famous logos, or subtly changing the map and the way your truck handles, there’s a lot you can tinker about with if things are starting to feel a little dry. Special shout out to the mod that lets you personalise the inside of your truck – because there’s something irresistible about decking out your cabin with a giant BB-8 and a bunch of other nerdy bits and bobs that fill up every empty space. While not offered in the game or mods themselves (and I can't say I tried this myself), there’s also means out there to take things online, hitting the road with truckers all over the world. Chances are you’ll end up in a traffic jam trying to get a ferry to somewhere, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

In the end, whatever you choose to do and however seriously you take what’s on offer, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is perhaps the definite chilled out experience; with everything always just coming back down to you and the open road. It’s the perfect game to unwind after a stressful day, where the challenge or intensity of most other games simply doesn't appeal, and that's what makes it something so much more than something to laugh at.

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