Valusoft releases latest in Hard Truck computer game series

by James Menzies

CALGARY, Alta. – Computer gamers can now enjoy all the challenges of being an owner/operator with none of the associated risks, thanks to a new computer game released by Valusoft.

Hard Truck – 18 Wheels of Steel is the third game of the Hard Truck series to be released by the Minnesota-based company, and this version takes the simulation to a whole new level of realism.

The game allows players to build their own business as an owner/operator by bidding on loads and then delivering them over real U.S. highways to destinations in more than 11 states. Successfully delivering the loads on time allows you to accumulate money you can use to upgrade your truck and even hire additional drivers to grow your business. Deliver enough loads on time, and you earn the trust of shippers who will then hire you for regular runs.

A wide variety of loads are available for players to choose from, including livestock, logs, garbage and bottled soft drinks. Players must carefully weigh the risks involved with each load, along with the pay before hooking up to the trailer and setting off for its destination.

While on the road, a variety of realistic challenges are encountered. Bad weather can slow you down and four-wheelers are a constant threat as they weave in and out of traffic (perhaps the most realistic element of the game!). You must also stop at weigh stations, fuel up en route and keep a watchful eye for the police. It’s also important to stop at a suitable rest area when you start to get tired, otherwise your screen will black out momentarily as your body reaches its limit.

The game features three levels of difficulty. The West Coast run features cities such as Oakland, Reno and Los Angeles. This is the easiest region to run. The Midwest features Chicago, Detroit, Louisville and Indianapolis, among other cities, and is slightly more challenging than the West Coast runs. The Rockies level includes the cities of Salt Lake City, Denver and Boise. These are understandably the most challenging runs featured in the game. Weather is unpredictable and running the winding mountain roads takes a lot of care and attention. Be sure to know which button activates the windshield wipers, as sudden snowstorms can appear out of nowhere. The truck physics in 18 Wheels of Steel are surprisingly realistic. While sometimes it seems to take an eternity to get up to speed, overall the trailer weight and stopping distances are fairly realistic.

Using a keyboard to drive can take a considerable amount of time to get used to, so patience is a must. With narrow lanes and plenty of traffic to avoid, it’s not always easy to keep the truck between the lines. Using a joystick will make it much easier to get the hang of driving. The game offers a variety of camera angles you can try to find the one that works best for you. This is a particularly handy feature while backing up and latching onto trailers.

Some basic knowledge of the area you’re running is also handy if you want to get that load to its destination on time. There is an on-screen map feature available, but it’s often difficult to tell where you are while on the road. If you miss an exit, you can pretty much kiss a large chunk of your payout good-bye, as the penalties for running late are steep.

You will also be fined for delivering damaged product, so it’s important to drive carefully, especially when merging with traffic or navigating an exit ramp, where it’s easy to lose your entire trailer.

If you do get into trouble, sometimes it may be necessary to call in for repairs or emergency assistance. This will also hurt the pocketbook, so if possible try to avoid this.

The game is fairly graphically intense, so you may not want to install it on an older computer or one that lacks the minimum system requirements. You can, however, turn down the graphics detail and customize the appearance if you’re experiencing choppy gameplay.

Playing a trucking computer game may be the last thing many real-life truckers want to do in their spare time. But 18 Wheels of Steel is a truly enjoyable game for anyone interested in the trucking industry. The realism and attention to detail that went into the game will endear it to most people familiar with the trucking industry and wannabe O/Os who’ve always wanted to test their business skills without sinking $150,000 into a rig of their own. For more information about the game, visit or visit your local computer game retailer.

System requirements:

Windows 98/ME/XP CD

Pentium III 600 MHz or 100 per cent compatible processor

128 Mb RAM

12 Mb 3D Video Accelerator with DirectX 8.1 compliant video drivers

DirectX 8.1 compatible sound card

200 Mb Hard disk space

4x CD-ROM Drive, Mouse n

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