I wasn't really sure what I expected Ship Simulator to be when I booted it up. I mean, the title is right there. It goes without saying that the game allows you to pilot a variety of boats in a variety of situations. There's a heavy emphasis on the realism of the situation and how the boats move and are controlled, and a really low emphasis on anything resembling action or, well, fun.
The game is broken up into a series of missions that you can select from a menu. You only get to select a few missions at the beginning; in order to unlock more; you'll need to complete some of the available missions first.
Each of the missions involves a list of goals that you need to go through in order to complete it. There are exactly six kinds of goals that you can complete, ranging from a simple go-to waypoint, to mooring your boat, to a dock to driving over ramps. There's not a whole lot of variety in your actions for completing the goals. For example, mooring involves approaching a point within a distance, then stopping, and clicking the 'moor' icon. Picking up passengers involves the exact same thing, only instead of mooring you wait for people to get into the boat. In addition to each of the goals for the missions, there's also a maximum amount of damage that you're allowed to inflict or sustain. At the end of this mission, if you've done more damage than you're allowed, you've failed the mission and must repeat it.
Immediately, the game feels low-budget. On starting, you're greeted with a simple-looking menu that feels almost incomplete. The menu system in general feels very rough around the edges and low-budget, whether it's selecting missions or when you're driving around in your boat.
And the events of the game feel just as cheap, perhaps not because of the quality of what happens, but because nothing ever happens. Half the game is just driving from point to point, and when you're in a boat as large as a cargo ship, this is considered a ridiculously boring event. The only exciting event that has occurred to me thus far is when a smaller boat veered to avoid my yacht, crashed into an island somewhere in the waters of Thailand, and sank.
Have you ever heard the phrase "It drives like a boat"? Do you know why it's put in a negative context? After playing Ship Simulator, I do - these things to not drive gracefully, unless you consider graceful to be painfully slow and clumsy. They feel authentic, like a real boat would drive, but that's just saying that they, well, drive like boats. Taking over a minute just to turn around is not what I equate with a good time. Even the speedboat, which should be a fast-paced time, is aggravating to control and the turn radius feels tiring.
It's obvious this game would only appeal to the absolute ship enthusiast. The amount of ships, locations, and missions would appeal to someone who really enjoys this kind of pace. The detail that has gone into the realism of the ships and locations is noticeable, but that doesn't make up for the lack of any real interesting gameplay. Some games just aren't meant to appeal to everyone. Ship Simulator is one of them