I knew the used car business was a bit shady, but I didn't expect quite so much mafia involvement, prostitution, and murder in this car salesman sim.
Car Trader Simulator (opens in new tab), now in Steam Early Access, lets you buy, repair, and sell used cars, but it also allows you to steal them, purchase them from the black market or right off the docks, fix them with second-hand parts, repeatedly lie about their condition to customers, and get in deep with the mob.
I'm not sure I'm cut out for it. Despite naming myself "Al Carpone," my naivety becomes apparent almost immediately when a woman contacts me about a stolen sports car and offers to sell it to me. I accept—I've just started my used car business 30 seconds ago, so a hefty profit from a bit of shady dealing doesn't seem like a bad idea.
But she then offers me a joyride if I give her $500 extra. As a dumb person, I assume she means it literally: a fun ride in the stolen sports car. Sounds great! I agree, only discovering afterwards that I've actually paid her to have sex with me. Nothing wrong with that, I just wish she'd said "To be clear, the $500 is for sex, with me, in this stolen car." Al Carpone is not great on picking up on hints or euphemisms.
She calls me a few times after our joyride to buy used cars from me, but never mentions that the car we had sex in was stolen from a mob guy, and he's pretty unhappy about it. In fact, he calls me and threatens both of us, after which I agree to work for him. I never hear from her again, so can only assume she's... happily living on a farm upstate. That's what mob guys do when you piss them off, right? Take you to live on a farm?
I should mention all this crime, prostitution, and murder is taking place in a sim that is essentially just a map of a city. You hire tow truck drivers and mechanics, you click on their icons and then click on the map where you want them to go. Used cars can bought by bidding on auctions, towed to your shop, repaired by your mechanic, then painted and sold either over the phone or using the web with more clicking. It's a spreadsheet game with the occasional offscreen murder.
There are plenty of illegal ways to make a living. I click-hire a thief and click-send him out scouting for cars to click-steal. I can browse the Dark Web (of cars) to buy stolen vehicles and sell them there, too. I can fix up cars with scrap metal instead of new parts—or I can try to sell them without fixing them at all, lying to customers about the condition of the cars. "Does it have a front bumper? Sure it does! Of course! It's like new! Would I, Al Carpone, lie about something like that?"
Doing car crimes can hurt you though. My shitty thief keeps getting arrested by the cops and I'm spending thousands to repeatedly bail him out, even though I've clicked him onto some sort of crime school so he'd become better at doing crimes. Selling crappy cars I've lied about hurts my shop's reputation, which means less business and lower offers, so I need to spend thousands more on advertising to improve my rep. You can play Car Trader Simulator perfectly lawfully, too, but I'm in way too deep at this point to even try being honest.
The mob boss keeps calling with special tasks, like setting fires to distract the cops from whatever criminal enterprise he's working on, or to deliver a certain number of cars to a certain location with no explanation of what they're for, and his constant needs are eating into my focus on buying crappy minivans and selling them to idiots over the phone.
My profits falling, I eventually resort to taking a $60,000 loan from the mob, which as you might guess is about as good an idea as stealing cars and selling them on the internet.
Despite managing to eke out a profit, my mob entanglements eventually come back to haunt me, if ghosts in this analogy are bullets fired into the back of my skull by a guy named, perhaps, Vinny. I haven't paid back my $60,000 mafia loan, so the mob boss I was starting to think of as a friend abruptly has me murdered.
No threats, no broken thumbs, not even that thing where the mob boss stands way too close to you and pats you on the cheek and tells you they're gonna give you another few days just because they like you. I'm just dead in a pool of blood. I'm disappointed! I was kind of enjoying all my wheeling and dealing and clicking and I hate to see Al Carpone go into an early grave.
I reload my most recent save, but unfortunately it takes place a mere three seconds before I get whacked. And while I have almost $80,000 in the bank, the $60,000 loan has climbed $100,000 thanks to mob-interest. Even for an expert liar and grifter, three seconds isn't enough time to turn that kind of profit. I guess crime doesn't pay, unless you're the boss.