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Spintires: MudRunner review

Stuck in the mud.

© Focus Home Interactive / Saber Interactive

Spintires: MudRunner is a new and improved version of Spintires which was released back in 2014. The original game was created by Pavel Zagrebelnyj but problems with the publisher Oovee Game Studio led to development ceasing. The new game is still led by Pavel who has worked with developer Saber Interactive and new publisher Focus Home Interactive.

I must admit I’d heard plenty about the million-selling original game but never actually got around to playing it. Driving big trucks to move and deliver logs around difficult terrain while trying not to get stuck in the mud didn’t really sound like my kind of game. However a couple of hours with Spintires: MudRunner was enough to change my mind.

The game opens up with a tutorial and I strongly advise playing through it. It teaches you the basics of driving your first truck, picking up a trailer, collecting some logs and delivering them. On Xbox One, the B button releases the handbrake, Right Stick rotates the camera around the outside of your truck or looks around the cockpit. Right Trigger accelerates, while Left Trigger brakes and reverses. The A button activates all-wheel drive, X Button enables differential lock. D-pad is used for advanced mode and to navigate menus. There’s also a winch to help you when you get stuck or for overcoming particularly tricky parts. Finally the right bumper sounds your horn and left bumper turns on your headlights.

Watch the Spintires: MudRunner launch trailer below:

 

The controls are quite easy to learn and fairly intuitive. Presuming you’ve played driving games before you’ll grasp the basics in no time. However, I soon found out that driving trucks through thick mud is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. One section of the game had me drive a truck to get a trailer. Getting to the trailer was easy enough, as was attaching it. Driving with it wasn’t so bad either with a little practice, until I had to reverse.

The game showed me exactly where I needed to park the trailer in a rather muddy area. I approached and proceeded to do a sort of three-point turn which eventually got my trailer facing the correct way. Reversing through mud with a large trailer though proved to be a nightmare. I lost count of how many attempts it took me but when I finally did it I’d lost the best part of an hour. It might not sound fun, and at times it was rather frustrating, but the satisfaction and sense of achievement when I finally did what was needed was fantastic.

In Spintires: MudRunner there are three modes to choose from which are Single Player, Challenge and Multiplayer. Single Player and Challenge are probably the best places to start after the tutorial. However, the Multiplayer is a good place to learn from more experienced players and can be a hilarious playground with friends.

© Focus Home Interactive / Saber Interactive

Single Player mode is probably where you’ll spend most of your time. It lets you learn each of the sandbox maps at your own pace. There’s a Casual difficulty which most players should begin with and a Hardcore difficulty as you grow in experience. Getting around the maps can be tough thanks to all manner of hazards and obstacles that stand in your way. If you think getting through a muddy field is hard, wait until you’ve tried driving through a river!

The new Challenge mode adds more variety to to game. Each challenge has additional mini-challenges to achieve as well. These include things like not damaging your vehicle or driving a particular section in first-person view. Beating some of these demands trial and error as well as plenty of patience.

In multiplayer you can join a game with up to three other players. Here you can learn from each other or work together to achieve your goals. I’d suggest getting to grips with the game on your own or with friends before joining the game with random players.

View some screenshots from Spintires: MudRunner in our gallery:

The whole game is really one big puzzle and it mostly leaves it up to you how to tackle each piece. With a large variety of vehicles to choose from and multiple routes through the maps, there is a lot of replay value on offer here.

Graphically the game looks rather nice. The vehicles look accurate and the environments are stunning. The star of the game though is the physics. From the real-time terrain deformation of the muddy tracks to the flow of water when crossing a river. The physics are what really make the game stand out. It’s even possible to send your vehicle or load tumbling if you make a wrong move on a a particularly tricky section.

Spintires: MudRunner is an unusual game but one that with a little practice becomes strangely addictive. If you enjoyed the first game then you’ll love the enhancements that MudRunner brings. It’s certainly quite different to anything I’ve played before and it offers a steep learning curve. If you aren’t sure what to make of this title then I’d urge you to give it a go before you dismiss it.

Spintires: MudRunner was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.

Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Developer: Saber Interactive Release Date: October 31, 2017 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4

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