Developer Red Dot Games and publisher Ultimate Games present Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Edition for review (shortened to CMS:PE moving forward). CMS:PE is the latest in a series of games where the player may select jobs to repair, purchase, and eventually refurbish cars.
CMS:PE follows a straightforward progression system in a slightly confusing hub with a growing need to understand car parts. Some of this is going to seem familiar if you read my previous review of Bus Fix 2019. There’s much more game to CMS:PE than Bus Fix 2019, and you need to learn how car parts fit together and how assembly works in order to proceed. The controls and various view screens help in the learning process by allowing different overlays of diagnostics to pinpoint the troubled parts then using the tools at your disposal to fix them. In the long run, you can upgrade your tools to save money on repairs by fixing them yourself instead of buying new parts, take cars for a small spin, and look around for cars to fix yourself for profit.
After Bus Fix 2019 my immediate thought was, “Oh god not this again.” Thankfully, CMS:PE is much more of a game than a panopticon of glistening mannequins indifferent to the way I fix their means of locomotion. In fact, I found myself getting into a good sense of flow playing CMS:PE. I was able to prop up multiple cars at once to familiarize myself with different parts while slowly internalizing the most efficient means of repairing them. There was even a moment I found myself Googling what certain car parts did in order to further my own knowledge.
This stab at furthering my own knowledge ended up being more illuminating than I intended. Because the internet is scarily predictive these days, searching for a car part led me directly to a video for Car Mechanic Simulator 2015 where I watched someone do the exact same thing on my computer screen that I was attempting to do on the small screen of my Switch. Except for a weirdly obfuscating curtain that blocked part of my view in 2019’s CMS:PE, the experience was functionally identical. This made me ponder how many times the same assets and overall simulation have been used by the developers and publishers, but that’s an investigative dive for another day.
CMS:PE functions as advertised and no more. Learning how the various parts fit together was satisfying at first but once I got a handle on the basics of car assembly I was just holding R down to unscrew bolts. Then I’d walk back to the computer, order a part, later use the upgradeable tools to try fixing those parts, and get back to doing the exact same thing. It’s a weirdly lonely experience since all I’m doing is mostly automated once I got a basic flow down. There’s none of the joy of showing off what you’ve done to others since, it being designed more for handheld than displayed on a larger screen per the title, the graphics look even older than the 2015 comparison I managed to stumble across.
At least CMS:PE wasn’t as much of a nightmare to play as Bus Fix 2019. There’s a handy wrench icon and highlight tool to help navigate through the metal of the automobiles. I just wish there was more to speak of outside holding the R button down once I pinpointed the troubling parts. The second CMS:PE engaged isn’t much to go on when stretched out to hours of play, and with free versions available elsewhere – why bother?
Car Mechanic Simulator: Pocket Edition - the Doctor's Assessment
If you want to learn about cars then go on your favorite internet search engine to find a restoration channel or a mechanics "how to." For those who desperately need to see cars disassembled in digestible slides, or have a gameplay experience that primarily involves holding down the R button for long stretches, then CMS:PE will function as advertised. No more, no less.
- Easy to control and the different information slides help foster good flow for a little while.
- The different car parts might as well be called hoozleflubbles and consgarbabits as there's no reason to learn what they do outside the order they go off then on.
- Threadbare tutorial that explains the shop so poorly it might have enhanced the "figuring it out" experience if it was absent.
- So many reused assets and graphics that if you've bought a previous version or have the free mobile there's no reason to dip into this well again.
Prognosis is Fair