STAFF REVIEW of Construction Simulator 3 - Console Edition (Xbox One)

Friday, May 8, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

Construction Simulator 3 - Console Edition Box art While I’ve never worked in construction, after a handful of hours with Construction Simulator 3: Console Edition, I have a new respect and understanding for how much planning and work goes into completing even simple production and construction tasks. You would think that using a bulldozer to flatten some land would be a quick five minute job, though, that’s until you need to actually perform said task for yourself. Luckily, you can do so without hours of training and getting behind the wheel of machines that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars from the comfort of your couch and an Xbox One.

Simulation games like this usually revolve around the gameplay itself, focusing on delivering the most true to life experience you can get without actually doing it, but doing so usually means that other elements, like narrative, aren’t much of a focus. This is the case as well with Construction Simulator 3: Console Edition, as you’re going to get a very in-depth construction sim, but not much else in terms of visuals, audio or narrative.

I will say, I give the developer kudos for trying to incorporate some sense of a story element within, but it could have done without. After you choose your character’s look and come up with a company name, you’re thrown right in. You were previously a game developer who was successful, but it wasn’t your true calling. Apparently your passion was running a construction company, so here you are, to learn the ropes and start to build your own empire. Pump the brakes though, you don’t even know what the equipment is, what it does, how it works or how to even the proper steps to operating said machinery. This is where your mentor comes in, teaching you the ropes of how to start building your construction empire.

Set in a small German village, you begin in a little corner of a town, eventually embarking out across the map as you make your way to bigger and better jobs and contracts as you progress. You begin with a handful of tutorials, showing you the basics, eventually teaching you every machine that you’ll be using in your jobs and how to become proficient with them. Thankfully, there’s a ton of tutorials, which should last at least a few hours if you were to do them all back to back, so there’s a great attempt to give you all the knowledge you’ll need going forward, just make sure you pay attention during these, or else you’ll be wasting an exorbitant amount of time trying to figure out what to do and how to do it properly.

There are dozens of contracts and jobs to partake in, starting simple such as flatting some piles of dirt and moving some cut down trees, eventually becoming grander in scale, constructing larger buildings and other massive projects. With a ton of variety of vehicles and equipment, you’re going to have your hands full for hours of construction 'entertainment'. As you complete jobs and earn money for completing contracts you’ll be able to purchase additional vehicles and even upgrade some perks with an RPG-like system in place as well.

With over fifty machines to get behind the wheel of, players that are actually in the industry will be happy to know that there are tons of licensed vehicles from over a dozen popular brands like CASE, Caterpillar, STILL, ATLAS, Bell and a bunch of others. To add even more authenticity to this simulator, you can even get inside vehicles with cockpit views, adding another layer of realism of what it’s like to actually be behind the wheel of this equipment.

If you’ve not played the previous entries of the series, you’re in for a surprise when you actually start to use the equipment. Now, the basic controls like moving the vehicles around are simple enough, but when you need to start using its other features, like the bulldozer, or a crane arm, this is where things start to get complicated. Most vehicles have multiple modes that can be toggled with a button press, and doing so will change its control scheme as well.

Your backhoe for example, once you plant its feet, you can use the back digger, with the Left Stick controlling some of the arm movement and the Right controlling the bucket. This is where you’re going to struggle for the first few hours. Yes, the UI will show you what direction on each stick does what, but it really doesn’t come naturally until you’ve sunk in enough time and practiced until it's second nature. To make matters worse, the camera can be atrocious at times. You never seem to get the right angle you want to see what you’re doing, and when you finally do, you’ll need to move which messes up your camera, forcing you toggle from your vehicle controls back to camera; rinse and repeat. There are different camera angles you can play with, but you’re going to constantly struggle with it and the controls. Factor in that nearly every machine controls slightly differently, and you'll start to see where the frustration can set in when you want to do a simple task, but struggle doing so.

Even from the beginning moments, it will surprise you with how dated everything looks, almost as if it was a straight port from its mobile counterpart without much improvement for its console counterpart. There’s nothing pretty to see, and the bland audio matches as well. That said, I oddly enjoyed my time with it. While I’ll never actually operate in any of this machinery in real life, I have a new respect for how much work goes into what you might consider a small construction task.

Sim fans are surely the ones that will get the most out of Construction Simulator 3: Console Edition, especially those that know the industry, and even though it’s very rough around the edges and visually dated, I still enjoyed my time with it for the most part, aside from the constant battle with the camera and controls.

Overall: 5.5 / 10
Gameplay: 6.5 / 10
Visuals: 4.0 / 10
Sound: 4.0 / 10


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