Truck Stars AR

Truck Stars AR – Game Review (iOS)

In this review, we’ll take a closer look at Truck Stars AR. Truck Star AR is a fast-paced truck bashin’ multiplayer action game in augmented reality. The game has two games modes, a single-player game where you play against 4 other AI opponents and local and online multiplayer game modes in which you can play against other players

Online Multiplayer

Truck Stars multiplayer game mode
Waiting for other players to join in the online multiplayer (public match) game mode.

I was really happy to hear that Trucks Stars AR implemented an online multiplayer game mode. Many developers don’t want to mess up with the required hardware and software complexities and opt only for local multiplayer games. It’s disappointing to see great games like Smash Tanks! and Sing AR Fight being great candidates for online multiplayer games but only offer a local multiplayer game mode alongside the single-player mode (maybe they added by the time you read this). I guess they want to test the ground with the single-player and see how it goes before they invest more time, money and effort in an online multiplayer architecture that will allow players to play with other players from all around the world, not just locally over the network.

Truck Stars AR has four different game modes: Solo Match (play against other AI opponents), Join Public Match (online multiplayer), Host Private Match (host local match, give a friend a code), Join Private Match (play against another player locally, put the game session’s code to join).

I did play the online multiplayer game and based on the names, I think that I played against bots. Even if this is the case, this is probably necessary to prevent players finding themselves waiting forever or in situations where you want to feel up space with AI players so the game will be more intensive and fun.

Gameplay

Playing Truck Stars AR
So much action is going on the screen, the gameplay is so much fun!

Trucks Stars AR felts very similar to Sing AR Fight in some ways. In this game, four trucks fight for domination. The goal is to be the one with the highest score after a 2:10-minute match is concluded.

To gain points, the player needs to pick up a golden crown and hang to it as long as possible. It’s up to the other players to bash into it with speed in order to grab a crown from a competitive player and hold it as long as possible.

The game plays in a very small arena. To control the car, you need to point the center of the screen where you want your car to drive to and it will do it with nice drift physics as well.

To make the game more interesting, some power-ups will drop into the game as you play. Some of them might make your car bigger (Super-Size) to make it easier for you to grab the crown while bumping against another car. Another one like the bomb (Bomb-A-Lot) will cause the other cars to jump into the air, dropping the crown to the floor for you to pick up.

There is also an out-of-bounds zone around the arena. If the player drives outside the arena for a few seconds, he will get punished for it, will lose his crown and need to respawn again.

As the game’s timer ticks to zero, some bonus points areas will appear in the arena (e.g. 2x, 3x) and the arena bonds will shrink. This is where the fun begins. Everyone is trying to maximize his score by trying to stay in the small bonus score area as long as possible. It’s a great idea that translates into a really fun gameplay experience.

The game has three beautiful arenas, each one corresponds to a different season

Users can also change their car look, name it and apply different skins to it.

AR Experience

When I reviewed the game poARdup in October last year, I remember wishing there was a multiplayer version of the game, because I liked the car’s driving control and physics so much. So Truck Stars AR actually bring similar physics in exactly the type of game that I wanted to play in augmented reality.

After a fast initial surface scan, I was able to spawn the game. Players can also control the size of the arena, so if you have a big room, you can enjoy playing the game in a larger size. The game still requires a minimum space of 1.5×1.5m for the arena. the thing is that unlike some games which require extra space to move around the game zone, in this game it isn’t necessary. You can just play the game standing or be sitting in the same place, which is very convenient, especially for those who don’t like the physical effort that some augmented reality games require.

Overall, the game felt really comfortable to play in augmented reality. The size was spot on, I like the clear surface scan screen and explanation, and the arena design blend nicely with the environment.

No Progression, Not Rewarding

Changing the car's skin, screenshot
Changing my car’s skin and naming it.

One of the things that killed this game for me as far as the multiplayer game mode goes is that it felt more like a “soft launch” game. I’ve played several games and I go no rewards whatsoever. There is no progression towards anything. IF you want to change your car and use the skins, you can do this without any need to do anything.

I wondered why such a passionate team will spend time making such a fun multiplayer AR experience but will drop one of the more important aspects of MP games and it’s making it very rewarding so players will be motivated to keep playing.

Even when writing these lines, I relaunched the game, just to make sure I am not missing anything, but nope, there are no general objectives, daily missions, no rewards for winning a match, not unlockable content, no microtransactions, nada.

The thing that I don’t understand is that how can a developer measure the potential of the game, even at soft launch, without having those so crucial game elements in the game. I played a few rounds against an AI and public match and I have no desire to come back; As a multiplayer game enthusiast, I want the game to feel rewarding, I want to earn things, I want to know that my time is well invested. I want to have some cool skins to show off to other players, I want to be able to unlock cool new cars and skins. Trust me, this isn’t just me having this wish list, this is a common, well-known and important practice in online competitive multiplayer games.

The last thing I want to see is yet another response from a developer that this is planned in the near future. By the time that “near future” comes, I won’t be here to play your game anymore and neither do many other players. OK, maybe with those new features I will, but I hope you get my point. As for the present, I see no reason to continue playing it, because it doesn’t motivate me to do so.

Whether I enjoy playing the game as it is, yes I did. The game controls are fun and very entertaining, yet when you finish a round, there is nothing, you just move to the next round. Without that sense of achievement, I won’t be motivated playing more.

I do hope that those missing things regarding achievements, progression and reward system will be added to the game in a timely manner. Also, keep in mind that my disappointment is mainly because of the lacking multiplayer, not about the single-player game mode, although the same things can apply to single-player mode as well.

Conclusion

If you read my review entirely, you can see that I end up being quite disappointed I mean, finally, we have a great online multiplayer game, that without the very much needed progression and rewarding system, it just feels barebone and not as unexciting have those game elements existed.

The gameplay, in general, is super fun and exciting. It reminds me how much I liked Sing AR Fight, but this game is much more fast-paced, I can play it with cool cars and with amazing powARdup-like physics and gameplay controls.  The added power-up feature is really cool and makes the game more dynamic, exciting and unpredictable each time you play it.

The game has beautiful-looking arenas than also improve the overall gameplay experience.

The gameplay formula is very good, but the game is much less engaging and doesn’t feel rewarding because of the lack of progression and unlockable content system.

I do hope that the developer will add those missing parts because if it goes like that, I am not sure that I’ll have players to play against. As of the time of writing and considering its a paid app and if you are into the online multiplayer, I do recommend waiting until the developer adds those needed features that I’m mentioned before buying it. I know it’s harsh because we need as many players as possible to have a large player base. I can only speak for myself, and I can tell you in confidence that I am not motivated to play the multiplayer and If I knew this is the case, I’m not sure I would have paid for it either.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic game and I’m positive that you’ll enjoy playing it. Just keep in mind my notes about the online multiplayer game mode in case you are planning to buy it. Also, keep in mind that by the time you read those lines the developer might already add those features. I am reviewing the first release as of March 19th, 2018.

Download Truck Stars AR for iOS from the App Store here.

P.S. the game is also available for Android.