Review: FIA European Truck Racing Championship – Fills a Vital Gap in Racing Genre

Review: FIA European Truck Racing Championship

FIA European Truck Racing is one of the most neglected motorsport events in the racing world today. Wherever you go, people will talk about traditional motorsports which involves blistering fast LMP1s or the F1 race cars. Truck Racing has been a part of the mainstream FIA racing championships since 1985 and since then grown to be a very strong pillar of the racing sports in the entire world. FIA European Truck Racing Championship is a racing game that is out to set itself apart from the traditional simulation racing games and this is our review of the game.

To start with, FIA European Truck Racing Championship is based on the real FIA sanctioned racing event and it also features some prominent names from the event in the game. You will also find some of the best truck racing teams in the game with their iconic 5-tonne racing behemoths. These trucks are raced around some of the best-known racing tracks from around the world and most of the rules are pretty much in FIA Truck Racing Championship as well.

Bigben is not a fresh name when it comes to racing games. Bigben has been publishing the WRC franchise for a long time and their latest WRC title WRC 8 is also in development these days. The developer behind FIA European Truck Racing Championship is N-Racing. Bigben has been actively spreading into sports genres which were previously left out from most publishers and this game is one of them. We never had a decent racing sim which covered the FIA Truck Racing Championship however things have now changed.

Review: FIA European Truck Racing Championship

The game starts with a normal race that does very little to teach you about the advanced mechanics of the game. You will simply play a race which serves as a controls tutorial. Play it however you like and finish in whatever position you want. After it, head straight to the Career and the game tells you that you need to earn your license before you take part in the Career paths. The License is your go-to tutorial and I will say that you must play all of these tutorials and try to get the best possible time in each as they will help you understand everything about the game.

I jumped right in the Career because this is the most obvious path in this game although it comes with a variety of modes. The Career requires you to acquire a license before you can actually jump in the championships. There are two unique paths here. The European Truck Racing and the World Series. European Truck Racing will cover the whole season in Europe while World Series will take you around the globe throughout the season on some of the best tracks.

The license is actually a very fun aspect of the game as it wants you to complete some tutorial-cum-challenges which will instantly remind you of the Driving School feature from Gran Turismo games. You will get a limited time and challenges which include braking, stopping, accelerating, cornering and lap times. I managed to earn gold of nearly all challenges fairly easily which means that they are not really tough as compared to Gran Turismo.

Still, they serve an excellent start to the game as they will also teach you about all the basic and advanced mechanics of driving the racing trucks from both European Truck Racing and World Series. They might look similar but the trucks used in these two Career paths are actually different in many aspects such as handling and speed. You will get to know them fairly easily once you start driving them in the game. After clearing the challenges, you will acquire your license and thus you are then free to explore the seasons of World Series and European Truck Racing. You are free to choose them and switch between any of them at any point in the game. I started with the European Truck Championship first.

One thing I will mention here is that although the calendar of each season looks empty, each race weekend will take a long time. If you choose to have a full-length race, it will take from anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour considering all the stages of the race. Before you jump, however, you will need to sign a contract with any of the teams who will lend you their truck and team support for the weekend or the entire season depending on your contract type. Once the contract is signed, you can move to the actual events.

The calendars will give you practice sessions as well in the mix which are a great way to try out your truck on the track and hone your skills while trying to set the best lap in the race. Coming to the actual race weekends, each race weekend comprises of two days with two races each day. Each weekend race has different stages. You start off with the practice session where you can spend all the time you want in trying out the truck and learning the corners and straights of the track.

Afterward, you get to the Qualification. In these two laps, you must set the fastest time possible to qualify for a better position at the start grid. If you land in the top 10 drivers, you will qualify for the Super Pole which is a 1 lap event and the fastest driver nabs the top spot at the starting grid. This is followed by Race 1 and then Race 2 of the day. Since I wanted the full experience, I opted for the full-length race and depending on the track length, a race without the starting stages takes around 30 minutes to 1 hour.

This is quite a long time for one race however it makes up for the lack of races in each season in the main career. Coming to the gameplay, the simulation mechanics in the game are pretty sweet. In the truck, you really feel the weight of the trucks and on the turns, it is extremely obvious that you are not in a lightweight GT3 car. The trucks are really heavy and you must use the steering according. Push it too much and the truck will simply oversteer and push itself off the track because of its own weight.

Another feature you have to manage in the game is brake cooling. Since these are huge and heavy trucks, they are equipped with a special brake cooling system that can be used on command and it allows you to cool down your brakes after using them. Keeping them cool ensures that they are efficient and less weary. If you let them overheat too much, they will have less efficiency and will eventually deteriorate causing you severe loss of braking power. There are no pit stops in the game as well so once the brakes are gone, they are gone for good.

Before the start of the race, you also have the option to tune your truck according to your own driving style. You can tune suspension, brakes and other components which will affect how the truck behaves during a race. You will need to adjust to the unique controls of the truck since they are much heavier and require more precise steering and throttle control. There are no ABS or stability control in the game as well to keep yourself on the road.

When it comes to a racing game, my biggest concern is handling and I am very happy to say that FIA European Truck Racing is a breeze to play. I used an Xbox Elite Controller and the gameplay was really smooth. The trucks handle really well and managing their brakes while manually shifting the three gears at the right time really gives you a sense of driving a real racing truck. Since this is races on actual tracks, you will be required to watch out for racing lines and proper braking to enter and exit corners. However, you must remember that these are 5-tonne behemoths so they must be driven accordingly.

Review: FIA European Truck Racing Championship

Managing the brake cooling adds a vital challenge. Since I love racing games and in simulation games, I always keep transmission to manual. Naturally, in this game, my transmission was manual as well. However, I kept the racing line on because I was having trouble braking at the right time since the trucks are really heavy. On the corners you have to manage the brake heats, check for the best line and shift the gears accordingly. It sounds hectic at first but once you get the load of it, it is a breeze and you actually start enjoying all the extra work.

My first laps in the trucks were very slow but once I got the hang of how the truck handles, my times were really fast around the tracks and I was easily sitting at the top of the pole at the starting grid. I spent around 4 hours with the game during my first session and when I shut down the game, I was promoted to the next class which allowed me to secure better contracts and I had completed the first month of European Truck Racing with all podium finishes.

The AI of the game is pretty challenging at higher difficulty levels although I think that the penalty system is a little unfair. It happened to me quite often that I caught up with the last position guy at the end of the race and he would have spun out and while coming back on the track would hit me which resulted in me getting time penalties or even pit penalties. On the other hand, while racing, AI rarely bumps into you and really gives you a tough time.

Review: FIA European Truck Racing Championship

When it comes to visuals, the FIA European Truck Championship is just decent. There were a few performance stutters for me on my Xbox One but overall the gameplay was pretty smooth. The night sessions are too dark and most of the shadows in the game have very sharp edges which makes it feel like an old PS2 era game. The truck design is quite decent and the environments, on the other hand, look pretty good.

Track design is also very good and the tracks are as authentic as the real tracks in the game. I am not very impressed with the visuals of the game however the gameplay is solid and I love the game for that. The simulation is there and that is what this game is made for. Racing trucks is really fun and if you are a simulation fan, it is going to keep you busy for hours as you complete season after season.

FIA European Truck Racing Championship is not for the casual racer. It is not even for the normal racing game fan. It is solely for the fans of this unique racing genre and even if you are not a big fan of this racing genre, playing the game will certainly make you a fan. The game has all the necessary mechanics that it needs to make us feel that we are indeed driving 5-tonne race-bred machines that are not like any other racing machine that you have ever driven in a racing game.

Final Verdict

I always wanted to have a proper racing truck game and with FIA European Truck Racing Championship, I finally have one. For me, this game fills a very important gap in my racing games library. I will highly recommend that racing fans specially the people who are into simulation games, give it a shot because although the game is not pretty to look at, it is a solid racing game and it delivers where it should. If you think about it, which other game will let you race a 5-tonne racing truck on the Nurburgring or Laguna Seca? Do give this game a shot because this racing discipline needs more love and we could do with a few more FIA sanctioned racing games.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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About the Author: Umair Khalid

Founder of GamesHedge, Umair enjoys a wide variety of video games ranging from RPGs to racing games. Currently busy with The Crew Motorfest and Way of the Hunter.

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