If your dream is to drive a tourist bus on a sunny Spanish island then Tourist Bus Simulator might just interest you. Or if you enjoy simulation and management games then maybe this game is right in your wheelhouse. And this is what I thought too until I got the chance to actually play the game.
Tourist Bus Simulator PS5 Preview
The first 18 minutes with Tourist Bus Simulator were fine, almost. I had to restart the game a couple of times, once to the game freezing and another time due to me somehow managing to flip my car on its side without any way to get it back on its wheels.
Apart from the aforementioned issues, the start of the game was perfectly fine.
You start off as a new arrival to the island of Fuerteventura, arriving at the airport you are given your first “mission.” It’s simple enough, leave the airport, get in your car and drive to your company. I should add that there are two game modes in Tourist Bus Simulator that you can select from as soon as the game loads.
One game mode I would describe as being the main mode where you build up your company, buy more buses, keep drivers and passengers happy and try to build a successful bus tour business. This is the management mode.
The second mode is where you can arrange schedules plot custom bus routes and generally just drive around in Freeplay. I am mainly focusing on the management and economy mode for this preview and subsequent review.
So once you have driven to your company you then get another “quest” to buy your first bus. You can buy your first bus by going to the computer in your office and selecting one from the second-hand bus sales screen. Once you have decided on your first bus, it’s time to go and collect it. This means hopping back into your car and driving to the dockside to pick it up. Once you have picked up your bus, you need to drive it back to your company where you can then get your first order, “the first trip.”
The first stumble
All well and good I thought, I’ve got my first order, I’ll go and pick up some passengers, take them to where they need to go and get some money to start building my business. Nope.
After picking up my first order, I could use the calendar in the in-game menu or go to the wall clock in the office to skip time forward to your appointment. So off I go on my bus, checked the map for the first stop and away I went, excited to get my first passengers. But when I got there, there were no passengers to pick up. I then checked the map and saw that the game had given me another stop to go to. I assumed that I had to do a trial run of the route first or something but after reaching the last stop nothing happened. The game did display some information as if I had completed the order (passengers left behind, number of crashes, etc.) But the “mission” did not disappear or change to something else.
I went back to my office to see if I had to do something there. But I could not access any new orders or even access the calendar to move time forward again. So I still have “the first trip” job showing on my screen and the map is not showing any routes or any markers. So I am essentially stuck it seems.
The game has some issues
I am 90% certain that it is probably just me being dumb and not figuring out what to do next. I have emailed the developers to see if they can point me in the right direction. As far as the simulation and management side of things go, Tourist Bus SImulator does appear to have a lot to offer. So I would really like to be able to progress further and experience more of the game.. And is likely a game you could sink a lot of hours into to try and build your company up from a one bus operation to having a fleet of buses and AI drivers covering the entire island.
Currently, Tourist Bus Simulator does seem to have some issues on PS5. The main problem I have, and again it’s probably just me, is that the game is not particularly clear on some things. There are various controls and things you can operate in the bus, like windows, doors, headlights, etc. But there is no clear instructions on how to access these controls. I ended up just pressing buttons to see what would happen. Some of the controls, like activating the bus’s destination board, seem to say “not available in this mode.” Even though the job I described above states that the “destination board must be active.”
I have also noticed a few graphical glitches. Sometimes in certain areas, the graphics will de-render. For example, at the airport, I walked into a lounge area and the walls and ceiling disappeared. When driving around the island there can also be a lot of glare from the sun. The sun is way too bright and makes seeing what is in front of you nigh on impossible.
Hopefully, these issues can maybe be fixed before the game’s release on May 12th or shortly thereafter. But I get the feeling that only hardcore simulation & management fans are going to persevere with the game.
At least the driving is good
Despite the aforementioned problems, there are a couple of positives about Tourist Bus Simulator. The driving mechanics I felt are really good and pretty realistic. The vehicles I have tried so far from the car to the smaller buses all handle really well and just like you would expect them to. The sound design is also pretty good. You get that kind of wooshing, doppler effect sound when other cars pass you on the road. It gives you the feeling that you are out on the open road.
The island of Fuerteventura also appears to be pretty large. Although it doesn’t look that big when you look at the map. But driving around and the time it takes you to get from A to B certainly gives a much larger sense of scale.
Tourist Bus Simulator is built on Unreal Engine 4 and as such the graphics are pretty nice. Everything is fairly well detailed and looks realistic enough. Apart from the sun being too bright the game certainly looks decent in the visual department.
Hopefully, the developers can offer some assistance so I can progress in the game. I would really like to play more of Tourist Bus Simulator as it does look like it has a lot to offer.
Tourist Bus Simulator is out on PS5 on May 12th.