Car Mechanic Simulator is a mixed bag of both good and bad, but not one that leaves you feeling disappointed.
First thing's first, if you're looking for action and adrenaline, go elsewhere - because you're not going to find that here. However if, like so many others, you enjoy customising, modifying, and tweaking cars in games but find yourself at times disappointed with the lack of depth and involvement in most games and often wish for something a little less autonomic, then you've just stumbled upon the first thing that CMS does right. This game gives the player the opportunity to build and restore cars from the ground up - piece by piece, part by part - and you're in charge of it all. You are given the pleasure of stripping it down (right down to a bare shell if you so choose), finding and purchasing all the correct parts for whatever model you chose, and putting it all back together again. While you may not find customisation opportunities to be in abundance like you would find in games like those in the Forza or Need For Speed series', they're not altogether minimal either. Being given the choice of performance-oriented parts as well as stock-standard parts, along with numerous choices in interior and exterior aesthetic embellishments, you'll still find almost limitless possibilities for customization. And all these choices are given to you in three main modes - normal, expert and sandbox.
Normal mode is career driven, and you'll start from the bottom as essentially a "backyard mechanic" in a basic workshop doing simple jobs and work your way up to the top, whilst being given all the hints and tips you need to work out how to play the game, where to look for issues and how to solve those issues. As you progress, the hints and tips become more and more vague, as well as less and less common - however by this time you'll have done more than enough to be able to work your way around the car independently. Another feature of normal mode (and also of sandbox mode) is that the parts that you have removed from the car and that can be reinstalled (without obstructing installation of other parts) are shown in "ghost" form. That is to say, if you've pulled several (or all possible) parts off the car and want or need to reinstall them but don't have the knowledge yourself of where to put what and in which order, CMS guides you by way of unobtrusively showing you what can go where. This is a handy and well constructed feature that allows for those with little to no mechanical knowledge to enjoy the game and learn the basics without being put off by the complex and often confusing nature of mechanics itself.
In expert mode, it's the same deal - however you're not given the tutorial, gentle entry and guidance that you're given in normal mode. You are given right from the start tricky jobs that require an (at least basic) understanding of how motor vehicles work, and how to recognise and where to look to solve mechanical issues. The "ghost" parts system is also absent, meaning that in order to dismantle, repair and rebuild components of the vehicles in game you'll need to know for yourself what does what, what goes where and in what order they can be pulled from and put back into the car. If you work on cars in the real world either as a hobby or as a career and know the ins and outs yourself, then this is likely the game mode you will enjoy most.
Finally, there's sandbox mode - where the world is your oyster and everything is given to you from the start. You're given all the money you'll ever need, and you're given all the unlock points you'll need to unlock all the perks and tools available. If you're looking to build, restore and customise as many cars as you want without the hassle of ranking up and earning money to unlock or purchase what you need then this is the mode you're looking for.
Now, while the game does do a lot really well, its not without its shortcomings. While driving is most likely not what you'll ultimately have bought the game for, it would have been a nice addition to have had an enjoyable driving model available to you. While there are several "areas" available to drive the cars you have (namely a test track, an offroad track, a race track and an abandoned airport), they're hardly enjoyable thanks to what I feel to be an absolutely abysmal handling model. With acceleration and braking characteristics that lack flair and excitement and steering that "drags", so to speak (meaning that the vehicle will continue to turn for a brief period after you let go of the joystick - how hard it turns depends on how long you held the joystick in the chosen direction), you'll likely find that driving the cars in-game is something you'll do merely out of necessitation and not because it's enjoyable.
Also present are annoyingly long loading screens. At first it seems there is no real issue with load times as the bar will go from zero to 80% in no time at all - it's the time it lingers on 80% that frustrates. Even when loading the credit-reel up the load time can surpass 30 seconds and more. This is not a huge issue however and easily tolerable, as once you're in the game itself there's relatively little that requires a loading screen.
The final issue herein is although the game does have depth and attention to detail that extends beyond that of most other motor vehicle games, it's still relatively shallow when talking about the number of vehicular parts and components present in game. While most, if not all, of the main parts and components of the power/drive-train and general running gear are present there are still many components omitted from the game - namely most fluids, gaskets, seals and bearings. Also completely absent are all harnesses, cables and hoses. While this isn't a huge issue (and is understandable when you consider the abundance of these components and how unnecessarily tedious, cluttered and confusing they could potentially have made the game look and feel - it is after all still supposed to be just a game), it would have made for a nice optional extra either as a setting or another standalone game mode.
All in all what we have here is niche game that, although flawed in a few little ways, is sure to give you countless hours of easy enjoyment so long as it appeals to your interests. It is one of the few games that I've comfortably spent more than I usually would on a game outside sales (that number is relatively low as I'm a cheapskate with a complex that doesn't usually like spending big money on video games) and am happy to have done so. There is a level of quality, commitment and attention to detail present here that the developers deserve to be proud of accomplishing, and can be rightfully commended for.