Title: Spintires: Mudrunner
Developer: Saber Interactive
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Available For: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows
Official Site: Spintires: Mudrunner
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Where To Buy It: Retail, Xbox Games Store, PlayStation Store, Steam
The fact that a game like Spintires: Mudrunner exists is a testament to why video games are the greatest media ever conceived by the human brain. How else would I ever experience the challenge of loading logs on a massive truck with a crane? How else could I temporarily trade my real life Honda Accord for a giant diesel guzzling tanker truck? Playing Spintires: Mudrunner is really an exercise in jumping in the boots of a select few who drive and harness the raw horsepower of some of the biggest and baddest all-terrain vehicles in the world.
The premise of Spintires: Mudrunners is pretty simple. You are behind the wheel of an all-terrain vehicle and you need to get from point A to point B. The catch is that the terrain you have to get across is absolutely brutal. There are muddy washed out roads with huge tire tracks that you can easily get stuck in. There are bogs with sections of deep water that will suck your truck in and flood your engine. There are steep rocky inclines that will tip you vehicle at the slightest misstep. In fact, the game is almost as much a puzzle game as a driving one. How you approach the environment will make the difference between success and failure.
When you first jump into Spintires: Mudrunner the two main options are a challenge mode and a campaign mode. The challenge mode is almost imperative to start with to learn the basics of the controls and the obstacles ahead. There are nine in total and they cover everything from vehicle handling to how to work a winch or crane. The challenges also have three subtasks that, while not necessary, will allow you to ace each with a three-star rating. I had a blast with the challenge mode as each had sufficient difficulty to tax may driving skills without feeling too daunting. In part, this was due to short levels that focused mainly on a single new skill to be learned. This was important as the learning curve is steep once you jump into the campaign mode.
When I booted up the campaign mode Spintires: Mudrunner really began to shine. The mode gives you a relatively simple task such as deliver some logs from one area to another. This is how the game gets its hooks in you. How hard could this be? In reality, very hard. You have multiple mammoth trucks at your disposal to accomplish the task. Some may require repair before being able to help. Others will need to hit fuel stations before they can reach their destination. In short, you need to find the strengths of each vehicle available on the map and use them appropriately for the greater good. Your log carrying vehicle may get stuck on a road and will require a pull from a more robust truck You may send a more nimble vehicle to clear a line of sight to an objective and leave the big diesel guzzlers for the grunt work. How you allocate your resources will determine if your fleet acts greater than the sum of its parts or if you just have a bunch of trucks stuck in the mud. The only real knock about the campaign is that some levels can become a little tedious. Driving slow vehicles over large distances can only stay exciting for so long. I found I had to take my campaign experience in smaller doses to maintain my overall enjoyment of the game.
The driving really is the pure joy of Spintires: Mudrunner. With so many titles focusing on speed and driving tricks it is almost unbelievable that slow lumbering vehicles would be so much fun the drive. The reason seems to be knife edge you continuously ride. So much of the terrain is nearly impassable so there is a very real possibility of getting stuck at any moment. This results in an odd continuous tension as you slowly drive through rushing waters or brutal mud. There is also so much variety in the trucks and how they handle. In short, the thrill comes down to harnessing the huge horsepower of these vehicles so they can slowly conquer the facets of mother nature that are impeding it.
Visually Mudrunner is also great. The tracks you make in the mud are persistent, something games seem to have been promising but failing at since Motorstorm. The water and mud splashing effects are excellent as well as the more you spin your tires in the muck the dirtier your ride becomes. I also loved when my vehicle emerged from being only half submerged in a river, it would show wet marks only on the portion that was under water. That attention to detail is found throughout the world. Unfortunately, the dashboards when you drive in cockpit view appear to have been a complete oversight and look more like something you would have seen in a twenty-year-old game.
The vehicle sounds also absolutely delight. They made me thankful I spend the extra cash on my subwoofer when I bought my home entertainment system. You can almost feel the engine roar from those diesel goliaths in your bones and provides some of the most compelling evidence of the power under the hood. This coupled with beautiful physics that extend to snapping trees and stressed suspensions and you really have an incredibly immersive experience
Spintires: Mudrunner is a wildly inventive idea that should be experienced by all gamers. It flips the driving genre on its head with an unapologetic focus on raw vehicular power instead of speed or finesse. While the campaign missions can feel a little tedious at times the overall immersion of the game makes up for this in spades and is a game that you can return to over and over again.
- Heart pounding intensity
- Fantastic driving and terrain physics
- Completely unique concept
- You can almost feel the power of the vehicles
- Not for everyone
- Can be too slow at times