Published on November 20th, 2017 | by David Guild1
Review: Spintires Mudrunner (Xbox One)
After a small delay, we’re finally seeing Spintires on consoles but under a new name, Spintires: MudRunner. What we have here is the definitive edition of the original 2014 game which sold over a million copies on PC. The original developer, Pavel Zagrebelnyj joined forces with Saber Interactive and has changed publisher from Oovee to Focus Home Interactive but that doesn’t come to a surprise to people who were fans of the original game. Both Zagrebelnyj and Oovee had quite a rocky relationship last year. No matter though, Spintires is back and stronger than ever.
I’ve always liked a simulator game, I’m not a hardcore fan but I like to dabble whenever I can. Throughout the years, I’ve drove a McLaren F1 around Suzuka Circuit, tried and failed to do a loop de loop in a Boeing 747-400, crossed a vast highway network in a big rig and operated a train on the tracks of the UK. I’ve done that all thanks to simulation games. I know in the real word that my options are limited but simulation games have made it a bit easier to live out a small fantasy but never once have I ever thought about driving old Russian trucks through an extremely muddy rural woodland but this is where Spintires showed me I was wrong.
Spintires: Mudrunner places you in a rough unpaved environment with only these big, old, rugged all-terrain vehicles as your mode of transport. Your job is to transport logs to a lumber mill, sounds easy doesn’t it? Well it’s not. The main obstacle if you haven’t guessed is the mud, and this isn’t your wee bit of mud on a dirt track, it’s more like a river of mud which will engulf you if you aren’t careful. Plus if you don’t burn all your fuel trying to get out of the mud, you will need to clinch your bottom while crossing the fast moving rivers as there seems to be a lack of bridges on some levels. The game does help you out by giving you a few tools, most importantly a winch. The winch is the teddy you had as a child, you can get through anything with it but when its gone or when the winch can’t reach to hook you out the mess you made, then let the water works begin. It’s an extremely useful tool which can connect to trees or even other vehicles but its limited by the distance it can go. Of course you will have other trucks in your line up which can drive to your location, hoping you don’t make the same mistake and maybe drag you out but it’s all maybes. Plus not all the trucks you have to your disposal is for carrying logs, you can change it up a bit by equipping a fuel tank or repair unit to fix the damage you caused.
I remember playing the original and I spent most of the spinning my tires in the mud but I’m older and wiser, so when Mudrunners came out I was ready! The new version of the game has giving us 9 challenges to complete. You have a main objective along with 3 bonus objectives which will give you your rating. They’re bite sized scenarios on what you will encounter in main single player. I started off badly but after finding my feet I was knocking them out of the park and I finished more than half with 3 stars and that’s without going back retrying the ones I haven’t fully completed. The tutorial gets you to grip with the controls but the challenges gives you the crash course you need to play the single player without any worries.
Each single player campaign will take you longer to complete and there’s a bigger risk to fail but this game is all about that challenge. There’s two difficulty’s, causal and hardcore. Hardcore is an animal I haven’t tamed as of yet. Damage to trucks will affect steering, the power and cause more stalls, manual gear box is a must to use diff lock and you will have to manually load your vehicles, and that’s just the start. You won’t be able to skip the night, you fuel consumption is higher and you don’t have a navigation line. There’s a few more but I think I made my point, it’s a ball ache which I aren’t ready for.
Multiplayer allows up to four players to work together and finish the objectives easier. You will be able to give each other a role in what to do, two on log carrying duty, one on fuel and another on repair. I didn’t get a chance to play a full four player game but my son and I enjoyed going around the map exploring and helping each other out of tight spots. The kid even saved my bacon before I got swept away by the river. It’s a game where you can chill with your buddies talk about the meaning of life while trawling across the unknown landscape, while secretly praying it won’t be you screaming for help. You can go at your own pace and that’s what I enjoy about simulators and if you can do it with friends, then great!
To finish up the gameplay side of things, I should mention one more thing. Throughout this review I’ve mention the terrain is your number one enemy, well I lied. The camera in this game can be a bit of a nightmare in this game, especially if you’re new to the series. It isn’t like other vehicle game, the camera isn’t fixed at a certain point but it’s able to kinda freely move about. It’s hard to explain but I will give it a shot. People who do extreme sports and like to film themselves may use a head swivel mount, it’s a pole with a camera on one end and a counter weight on the other which attaches to your helmet and it will spin around the subject, you get some pretty great shots with it. Well the camera in Spintires: Mudrunner is like that but controllable. You will be shouting profanity at the screen while trying to angle the camera so you can see your truck and the ground a head at first but once you get a hang of it, you will shout cuss words but not as much. Like the head swivel mount, the camera is great for action and cinematic shots but not so much for gameplay unless you’re up a cliff side and you want to make sure that your wheel at the edge has enough ground underneath it to stop you from tumbling down the hill. The game does feature a cockpit mode at last but driving a truck in real life, you barely see anything around you, especially with the lack of workable mirrors.
Now let’s talk about the look of the game. The trucks look first class, while they aren’t officially license vehicles, if you were a bit of a truck nut you could probably tell which truck relates to their real life counterpart. Traveling the world, there’s a consist fog around you, giving you the feeling that you’re working through the colder months of the year. I’m guessing the fog serves a purpose to limit the draw distance but it doesn’t feel like that but part of the atmosphere. When I aren’t busy staring how the wheels make tracks through the boggy terrain, I’m looking at all the autumn coloured trees which slowly pass on by. Even the water looks good, its usually the hit or miss in games but not only does it looks good, it feels good. When you’re crossing a ford, you can feel the water hit the flat side of the truck and pushing you, making it harder to continue straight on. Plus the look when your vehicle hits the water and some of the oil mixes to get that rainbow effect, just wow. It’s those little touches I like.
I’m not a big sound guy so I can’t go in to much detail but the trucks sound beefy, it sounds like I’m driving a 12 ton truck. One part does make me laugh while on the subject of sound is when you’re approaching the lumber yard, you can hear faith sounds of metal music and when you arrive it sounds like it’s blaring out from the cabin. It’s a bit of a giggle when you’ve spent your time crawling through the mud listening to the sound of the engine struggling then sudden some electric guitar sounding off when you’re about to complete the objective.
To finish up and if you hadn’t noticed, I really enjoyed Spintires: Mudrunners. I bought in to the early access of the original version and I remember the trouble I had playing those early versions with a controller, it just wasn’t possible. You would have to switch to the mouse and keyboard to winch and then back to the controller but with this brand spanking new UI, optimisation for the controller combined with quick winch, and the gameplay alone has improved massively. The challenges and looks are just a bonus. Plus now the PC version allows mod support so the community from the first game can continue their work on this newer and in my opinion better version of the game, just wish consoles had mod support too.
The game has a bunch of small things that sucks me in, the deformation of the soft ground, the feel of the water pushing my truck and the ability to feel like your tires are going over the middle ridge of a dirt track. Nothing major but you notice the changes in the control and I like that.
I’m clueless on how console gamers will take to Spintires: Mudrunners but I’m glad to see it finally hit console and I’m hoping it is successful to show that the more serious side to simulators (not your Goat Simulator games) are wanted on consoles. We already have Farming, hunting and finishing simulators which are getting popular but we can do with a more varied mix.
Lastly I want to give my apologises to the publisher and developer of the Spintires: Mudrunners for the delay of this review and videos. My PC decided it would be a good time to corrupt not one but two of my hard drives I use. So this is my second take at both the review and videos.