PC Software: King of the Road

It was with gleeful anticipation that I agreed to preview King of the Road. I love lightning-speed driving games; barrelling along the streets of a virtual capital city or powersliding round dirt-track bends at a supposed 180km/h - there's nothing better. So I wasn't quite prepared for the more stately pace that characterises this HGV trucking game.

King of the Road is a bit of a lamb in wolf's clothing. While it doesn't quite evoke the tedium of long-distance haulage, the brass tacks of this trade are the game's focus. Your aim is the build up a trucking business by picking up goods, driving them to different towns and selling them. You have unlimited time in the game, so you can develop a client base, extend your fleet of lorries and, ultimately, if you are half the road freighter you think you are, gain supremacy in the business.

So, it's a strategy game - more or less. You still spend all your playing time behind the wheel, it just it happens to be a 16-tonner instead of a Subaru Impreza.

Rather than straining the laws of physics in a headlong race against the clock, you try to keep your vehicle roadworthy by, well, keeping it on the road. Knock down a small road sign and a couple of trees and your steering's finished and you can't get out of first gear. Then your livelihood is gone and you're back to building up the business from nothing.

It doesn't take long to work out that this is a little more cerebral than your average rally-fest. Careful driving and substantial planning ahead are the tactics that'll win you this game, and the weird thing is, I soon began to enjoy it. Once I'd learned how not to crash.

Publisher: JoWood Productions.

Developer: JoWood Productions.

URL: www.jowood.com.

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