Developed by Stillalive Studios and published by Astragon, Bus Simulator is an impressive and rewarding simulation for the PlayStation 4. In Bus Simulator, you are not only responsible for driving a licensed bus from point A to point B – picking up and dropping off passengers on way – but for the successful operation of your entire business; from the creation of new routes and hiring new employers, to avoiding traffic violations and purchasing new buses. Just don’t go bankrupt!
Make Yourself Comfortable in the Driver’s Seat
After a lengthy tutorial that sees you taking control of your customisable player character – both on foot and behind the wheel – the story, and ultimately the goal of Bus Simulator is revealed: to re-introduce a public transport system to this fictional European city and make a profit.
This tutorial is essentially a test run of the first bus – the Mercedes-Benz Citaro K – that will see you entering the cockpit and interacting with the many features available to you. Bus Simulator is incredibly detailed, and you are responsible for all functions of the bus you drive, from the doors, to the accessibility ramp, to the ticketing machine.
Designed to be played primarily in first person (although a third person viewpoint is available), you can look around the cockpit and interact with the various switches, to turn on the ignition, the lights, the wipers when it rains, etc. Many of these functions are also assigned to a circular action menu that can be accessed by pressing left on the D Pad.
Using the mini-map to locate the next stop, you will be expected to follow certain traffic regulations during your route; from stopping at red lights and slowing down at speed bumps, to not speeding and avoiding collisions (including pedestrians). Your success will result in more fares, and ultimately the expansion of your business, but failure to follow these rules of the road will result in hefty fines that eat into your profits. Did I also mention that you must complete each route within a time limit?
May I See Your Ticket, Please?
Your passengers can also present time-depleting challenges. At times I was forced to use the passenger mirror to ask obnoxious customers to turn their music down, or move away from the doors so they can be closed. At the end of the route – when the bus is empty and you have successfully parked it at the depot – you will also be expected to clean up the garbage they have left behind.
However, don’t be disheartened! Careful driving and the completion of objectives unlocks new areas of the map, new buses – including models from Iveco, Setra and MAN – and new customization items. After a few hours on the road you will find yourself using your surplus funds to recruit drivers, assign them to routes you have created yourself, and customize your entire bus fleet. Multiplayer and sandbox modes also add further replayability.
Bus Simulator is built upon Unreal Engine 4 tech, but the graphical representation of this simulation wouldn’t look out of the ordinary if it was released last generation. A lot of work went into modelling the interior and exterior of each licensed bus, but non-licensed NPC vehicles, characters, and city surroundings suffer in comparison.
Hop On, Hop Off!
Bus Simulator was originally released on Steam last year under the title Bus Simulator 18 – a sequel to the PC-only release, Bus Simulator 16 – and although I’m unable to directly compare both versions, the PS4 port is represented on console sufficiently with no glaring omissions. Unfortunately, that is not to say that Bus Simulator on PS4 isn’t without its faults.
Frequently during my time playing Bus Simulator I experienced noticeable drops in the framerate, and although the action menu worked well for most console-based commands, it became obvious that Bus Simulator would be better suited to the keyboard and mouse control scheme of its PC counterpart.
In conclusion, Bus Simulator is honestly more entertaining than I thought it would be. Driving a bus, picking up passengers, and ensuring you give them the correct change may not be as thrilling as traversing planet Pandora in search of loot in Borderlands 3, or surviving Hell on Earth in the upcoming Doom Eternal, but Bus Simulator is an immersive experience that I can see myself revisiting on a rainy day.
Bus Simulator review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on a PS4. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy.