Spintires: MudRunner is an off-road driving simulator in which you traverse treacherous Russian landscapes in order to deliver lumber. MudRunner is an upgrade of the original Spintires with several additions and improvements to the game such as; overhauled
graphics, a cockpit mode, multiplayer saves, new vehicles, a new sandbox map called Proving Grounds and a challenge mode.
The graphics have an impressive level of detail with varied terrain which is perfectly complemented by realistic weather conditions such as mist in damp environments. A robust physics engine causes the terrain to react to your vehicle. Dust and gravel get
kicked up behind the wheels of your truck, mud shifts beneath the tires becoming stuck to them while water splashes and foams around spinning wheels. Even broken off tree branches get caught up in the tires, producing satisfying cracks and snaps.
Vehicle engines sound realistic and ambient sounds such as birds chirping are used in the environments. As for music, there is very little other than the rock that plays on the title screen (which you can disable) and whenever you unlock an achievement. It’s a shame
there is no in-game option or built-in radio to set up your own music playlists as such as feature could add more satisfaction to the experience of driving a long, arduous journey. MudRunner has a variety of gameplay modes; singleplayer, challenges or multiplayer. There is the option to play the tutorial as well if you wish.
The tutorial is short and introduces you to basic features whilst allowing you to get a feel for the driving. Upon completion, you are encouraged to play the challenges to learn more which could feel a little daunting for new or inexperienced players. After all, the challenges are there to test your skills and a lot of aspects of gameplay such as gear changing and applying add-ons to your vehicle are left for you to figure out as you play. The challenges are a set of maps with each one giving you a main objective along with some optional bonus objectives. There is a satisfying sense of progression as you complete the goals and unlock the next map.
In single-player mode, you start off with two maps to choose from. To unlock the others you have to earn progression points which you get by completing tasks. You can play on casual or hardcore mode with various differences such as fuel consumption and vehicle damage parameters. It is through the Single Player option on the main menu that you will find the Proving Grounds map. Proving Grounds allows you to spawn different vehicles to experiment with. You can also spawn to different parts of the map and practice escaping mudholes if you wish –something you will find yourself doing often. If you don’t want to drive alone, you can join up to three other players online and help each other out. A welcome addition to multiplayer is that it can now save. Players of the original Spintires will be pleased to know that voice chat is now supported.
The gameplay itself is tough with a steep learning curve but with time and perseverance, little things like remembering to release your parking brake will become second nature. Realistic physics ensure that the vehicles feel weighty and manoeuvring your vehicle can take a lot of practice. Trucks are affected by the terrain depending on factors such as weight and driving method. MudRunner also features a dynamic day and night cycle which further increases the challenge. In casual mode, nighttime can be skipped altogether. For an even more authentic experience, you can switch to cockpit view which gives you a first-person view through the windscreen. Sadly, the mirrors do not serve any function. Another issue is that the truck controls on the dashboard get partially hidden behind the steering wheel.
You will get stuck often but there are various ways you can try to free yourself such as using the winch. Sometimes you can get stuck indefinitely and find yourself switching trucks or recalling another to your location. You can then use the second truck to attempt to winch the other out. Unfortunately, in situations like these, you may end up having a battle with the camera which can be frustrating.
Another thing to be aware of is fuel consumption and damage. If the damage meter becomes full, your engine gets flooded or your fuel runs out, you’re going to get stuck. In casual mode, you can recover at unlocked garages. There, you can refuel as well as install add-ons for your truck.
There are nineteen tracks in total which have different functions, different amounts of gears, varying fuel capacities and handle different loads. You can unlock more trucks by finding them on the map (large padlock symbols) and driving up to them which feels rewarding.
If you find yourself wanting, even more, variety, MudRunner on PC supports Steam Workshop so there are plenty of trucks and mods to try out.
The end result is that Spintires: MudRunner accomplishes what it sets out to do, which is to deliver an authentic, off the road driving experience. Your driving skills will be put to the test as much as your diligence although players new to the genre may find it overwhelming at first. If you can ignore the few issues throughout, there is a truckload of replayability and satisfaction to be had.
+Impressive environmental reactions while driving
+Multiplayer game saves
The not so good
-No mirror functionality in cockpit mode
-Tutorial is lacking considering the steep learning curve
-Occasional battles with the camera
Overall Score: 7/10
If you would like to write for Clubit about any aspect of Toys, Tech and Gaming, contact Badger@clubit.tv