Simulation games are insanely popular, particularly the likes of Euro Truck Simulator. I personally find them incredibly boring with their monotonous driving, abiding by the traffic laws and almost real world travel times. I spend most of my life driving along motorways, so why would I want to do that in the comfort of my own home as well? When it came to playing Spintires: Mudrunner for this review I was expecting more of the same, but how wrong I was.
Spintires: Mudrunner (a more advanced version of the original Spintires game) adds an extra layer of puzzle solving to gameplay which makes for fun and compelling challenges. Instead of following a sat-nav along a standard road, Spintires forces you to plan your own route using the in-game map and a handy tool for plotting points. Most of the map is without a faint hint of a road and it becomes a case of trial and error as you navigate your way around trees, water and overall rough terrain. Passing by watchtowers will reveal more of the map so you can plan ahead.
To increase the stakes very often you’ll find your vehicle will grind to a halt as the thick sludgy mud beneath your wheels becomes too much. It then becomes a case of switching to another unlocked vehicle dotted around the open-world map to rescue yourself with the trusty winch. My first play-through resulted in me foolishly attempting to drive through a lake – which I assumed was shallow – only for my truck to sink, with only the rear peering out of the water. I brought in a second truck to pull it free, but in doing so managed to get that stuck too, which meant calling in a third truck. Thankfully I managed to get the second truck free, but the first is still there and has now become a permanent feature of the lake.
You would think instances like this would become frustrating – after all the single objective of the game is to collect logs and deliver them to the lumber mill and this set back was costing me – but in all honesty I was having a blast trying to figure out the best way to literally pull myself from the mud. There is also a focus on the vehicles’ fuel consumption and damage which can be refuelled and repaired at garage and fuel locations on the map, or if you get stuck before reaching one, fuel and utility trucks are on hand to come to you.
The single player mode is spread across six maps and can be played as casual or hardcore where several helpful features such as less fuel consumption, skipping nighttime and a visible navigation route are stripped away. Alongside this are challenges which consist of simple set-ups, such as repairing a fuel truck, then refuelling a log truck and delivering the logs, that need to be completed along with optional objectives. These challenges act as additional tutorials explaining the games features, building on the already helpful pre-game tutorial.
With good quality graphics and well modelled vehicles, Spintires: Mudrunner is a pleasant game to look at – even if some of the locations feel like Pripyat, Ukraine with their cold grey tower blocks and empty streets. However the key selling point is the mud physics. The way it realistically moves as your wheels cut through it and when you get stuck and start spinning your tyres you’ll see the truck slowing sink in more. Whilst it looks unusually satisfying it also serves as a visual reference to know when to floor it and maybe at what point to hold off and try a different tactic.
Overall Spintires: Mudrunner is nothing like your typical simulator. With its realistic physics and puzzle solving gameplay it’s elevated to a much more exciting game than just driving from point A to point B.