Street Cleaning Simulator 2011 (PC)

You can sweep through my review here or see it below:

Street Cleaning Simulator

2/5

 

While it was hardly a surprise to find Street Cleaning Simulator (SCS) at the bottom of the SquareGo mailbox, it was an unusual concept to bring to the digital realms.

One wonder’s what Astragon and Excalibur’s master plan here could be. Given that in the two years we’ve been reviewing Astragon’s series of unpredictable technology simulators; they’ve been slowly churning out a progression of increasingly more detailed and pretty looking games, each more complex and necessitating a more powerful PC to run them. From the humble Crane & Digger sims to the more unusual Truck & Trailer.  It’s beginning to seem like any menial job could finally have it’s own simulation these days.

In each case the player has been cast as the — mute and invisible — working class hero of some blue collar job that most of us will never know in real life. Considering that in the UK the people you’re most likely to find cleaning streets are those on community service, it seemed a bizarre choice.  However SCS not only has a vague storyline, it also has a tangible player model.  Yes! For once you can actually look at the face of the man piloting the humble street sweeping van; boldly shambling at a snail’s pace, to and from the petrol pumps to fill his van and into the office to read his emails. With his swarthy tanned skin, tawdry beard and unwashed hair, he’s someone you could understand and relate to, presuming you are someone doing a community service sentence for stealing a handbag.

With our unsung and unwashed hero in hand, it’s up to us to learn a fairly gently sloping learning curve to understand how the cleaning van operates, it’s various controls and the required maintenance that goes along with it.  This is where the first moments of worry begin to set in, as the van moves almost as slowly as ‘Our Hero’ runs. The cleaning can also take several sweeps depending on how soiled the world has become.  Eventually you also will inevitably run out of petrol as the van eats so much fuel it could cause it’s own recession, or water to clean, or simply to empty your van of gutter crud.  These ponderous journeys home give ample time to think back on the nature of existence and wonder why you are devoting time out of your life to this pursuit of citywide cleanliness.

What’s strange is the level of effort that has gone into some parts of SCS make you wonder if it’s simply only half finished. The game looks amazing, the city is lovingly detailed in all of its hideously realistic splendour, with cars and pedestrians milling around aplenty. In fact you’d be forgiven for half expecting enemy soldiers to run round every other corner. The rear-view mirrors are possibly the best to have graced a videogame ever. The basis is also there for a management and business building side to the game which doesn’t really work. The missions come in by email from the Mayor, you do them, invoice and try to balance the slowly rising capital until you hit the fabled £34,000 that gives you the Gold Rating.

It’s dull, monotonous and realistic. Much like ‘Our Hero’ you to will look longingly at the pretty cars you can’t drive and the buildings you can never go into. Maybe one day Astragon will make an MMO letting us experience all of these other tedious parts of life, until then you’re probably best sticking in GTA IV and soothing your self by creating some of the grime ‘our hero’ would rather clean.

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