All the fun of running and growing a repair shop, with none of the hassle.
- Developer: Red Dot Games
- Publisher: Playway S.A.
- Genre: Simulator
- Release Date: 25/6/19
- Platforms: Xbox One, PS4
- Reviewed on: Xbox One X
- Game Supplied by: Koch Media
Finally, all the fun of repairing and rebuilding cars, along with the added bonus of building a successful garage from the ground up, has arrived on Xbox.
I can’t tell you how long I’ve envied the PC community because of this game. The idea of spending hours piecing together cars from the smallest intricate components, all the while keeping my hands squeaky clean, just filled me with joy. To top it all off, the junkyard DLC has since been released and made the whole thing even better. As if running a virtual garage weren’t fun enough, you can now go to a junkyard and hunt around for parts, and if you’re lucky, you may just stumble upon a sweet classic ride – presumably unloved by its prior owner – in which case you’ll have the chance to restore it piece-by-piece to its former glory.
To start, I must say, Car Mechanic Simulator is stunning. Like most simulation games, it is of extremely high quality and has amazing detail, with every panel and part crafted to perfection. Your garage receives the same treatment – the glossy shimmer bouncing off a wet patch of the floor, all the random bits and bobs you would find around a garage are skilfully rendered in, making it all feel more authentic. You even have your own radio that plays throughout the workshop (in my case, some classic rock).
The gameplay mechanics involved with Car Mechanic Simulator are quite complicated, and having played it a few times on PC, I was quite worried about how the controls would translate to the Xbox. My worries were abated as soon as I booted up the game, as it felt great. What could easily have been a complete mess of complicated controls worked out to become quite an elegant system of selecting where you wanted to work on the car, selecting a part, and zooming and rotating to get the best angle. From there you can select different modes depending on what you want to do.
Assembly mode gives you a ghosted appearance of the parts that need to go on next, and disassembly mode will highlight either the part selected in green, giving you the go ahead to tear that sucker out, or red, showing the parts blocking it from extraction. It’s not quite that easy though: if you want to drain some oil you’re going to need to lift that car up to access the oil drain underneath it. If you want to take the engine out, you’ll have to drag it on over to the lift and mount it on the engine stand, which will give you full control and view of everything.
When it comes to the body work side of things, I do wish there was a bit more substance. Repairing parts is as simple as taking them off, taking them to a bench, and clicking a button. I would have liked to get the sander out and get the rust off myself, hammer some parts into shape, or cut and weld panels back to their former beauty. It’s a bit too simplistic as it is, and could have done with some more interactive elements.
Painting the cars, again, is too simple for my liking. I spent a few years working in a restoration garage, and having primed and painted cars myself, I was disappointed that it was just a slider system to select the colour and paint style. I would have liked the option to get the guns out and prime, paint and lacquer the car myself. As a simulator, to me this is the biggest pitfall, because spraying a car is not as easy as that. The different paint types have different processes: pearlescent paint, that so many love, needs a base coat of colour and layers of a pearl coat to achieve the look you want, and it would have been cool to see this represented in game. This also could have led to a crazy amount of experimentation; what happens if I use a metallic paint, then later on some pearl, and finish it with matt lacquer?
The basic concept of the game is fairly simple. To start, you have a small, one lift garage, and you have to complete simple jobs like tyre changes and oil changes in order to earn money, move your business forward, and rank up.
The jobs will progressively get harder and more lucrative, and eventually you can start going to auctions to bid on cars that you can repair and do up to sell, or you can go to the junkyard to search for cheap parts, along with what are essentially barn finds, that again, you can fix up and sell on.
One last thing I would like is an online co-op mode, where you and two or three friends could be in the same garage, and each work on a separate car, or even have each of you running a different section of the workshop: so one player is on paint and body, one is on general parts, and one is on engine repair and build. Plus, imagine scavenging around the junkyard with your friends, and the elation upon one of you finding the perfect part for a rare car you are building.
Overall this is a brilliant mechanic simulator, but I would have liked some more depth in the body and paint shop division.
I would, however, happily say that it is one of the most well done PC ports I’ve played.