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Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds Edition

Posted by GG Goblin On October - 29 - 2018

A game about mud. And driving, But mostly mud.

 
Saber Interactive’s Spintires: Mudrunner is a very unique driving game that launched on Xbox One about a year ago. Jumping forward to the here and now, and Saber Interactive have announced that they are working on the sequel. However, showing love for the original game, a new expansion has been released, American Wilds, and the entire bundle of game, including the base game and DLC, is available in the Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds Edition, offering the perfect entry point for anyone who has a yearning to deliver logs through the wilderness in big, impressive trucks. I got to admit, it’s not something I have ever fantasized about, but I can now see the appeal.

 
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Let’s get something straight, Mudrunner is not your average racing game. Even with the obvious inclusion of big machinery, the game could still have been a race to the finish line. Instead, what you have here is a driving simulation, simulating what is perhaps the most obscure branch of professional driving ever. Seriously, this game is about driving where people have no right driving, and doing it to deliver logs. Next time your DHL driver complains about what a difficult day they have had, get them to play this game.

 
So, as already mentioned, the American Wilds Edition is a bundle containing the base game, DLC and the new expansion. Starting at the beginning, which is a great place for anyone who has not played the game before, players will be instantly dropped into a tutorial that will teach some of the basics. I say some, because the tutorial is surprisingly light and will in no way prepare the player for the gruelling sandbox tasks ahead.

 
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Anyway, it is in the tutorial that the player will get a glimpse of just how different this driving game is. Driving along the road, things are fairly normal, albeit very slow. This is because the player is driving machinery that is meant for power, not speed. Head off the road, and that is where things get all kinds of messy. This is not your friendly, Sound of Music, alpine off-road adventure. This is Russia, and it is so muddy. Aside from the occasional dip through a river, mud will be the most often encountered road surface here, and it’s not even nice mud. It’s the sticky sort of thick mud that will pull the truck in whatever direction it chooses, all the while threatening to engulf the wheels if the player pushed too hard or not enough. It’s horrific.

 
But it is also quite exciting. The tracks offer a certain amount of leniency in how the player drives on them, and seeing a wide piece of track with an obvious mud puddle to one side may make the player slowly and carefully move past he puddle, without realising that the hidden mud that they are about to get stuck in is the real problem. Sure, there are rocks to avoid, and even some almost built up areas that the player will have to navigate, but they all have mud, and it’s the mud that will get you.

 
The tutorial gives the player some guidance, explaining about things like all wheel drive and such. It also gives the player a chance to get to grips with the camera, which is not always ideal, but works. Most importantly, the player is introduced to the winch, perhaps the most important tool in the game. Players will get stuck in the mud, and more often than not will have to use the winch to rescue themselves. The winch is perhaps one of the easier things to use in the game, as even driving off requires turning the ignition and taking off the parking brake. Once the winch is in operations, the player simply chooses an anchor point and starts pulling themselves out of trouble. Of course, that is not always possible, but the player can always swap to another vehicle that they have unlocked and come and rescue their stricken ride, maybe even saving the cargo. Obviously, if the truck rolls down a cliff or gets swept away in a river, then that cargo is not coming back. But for getting stuck in mud or running out of fuel, which is also a big problem, the best solution is often to switch vehicles.

 
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Once the tutorial is up, the player is then encouraged to head into the challenges, rather than go full sandbox, as the player will then be introduced to the more complex workings of the game. The challenges are actually quite fun, if maddeningly difficult at times. The first one, for example, requires the player to pick up a load and drop it off somewhere else on the map. Not too complicated. However, there are bonus objectives that can really mess up your day, such as staying on the right side of the road. How about giving me a vehicle that is small enough to stay on one side of the road? Another objective was to not do any damage, which would be easy enough if I didn’t have to reverse with a trailer in a tight spot, with parked cars. Come on, no one can reverse with a trailer.

 
I am not going to say that the game looks great, but it has its moments. The environments are fairly bland, but there is some beautiful detail in both the mud and the water that really makes the game stand out. For the vehicles, well, I got no idea what they are, but they seem authentic. It is the physics engine that really makes the game shine, managing to instil a sense of dread even when moving at a snails pace, because the  truck could get stuck, tip over and even roll if one inch of movement is out of place.

 
For the new expansion, players will be leaving the Russian wilderness for some much more friendly American countryside. Yeah right, the included two American maps are literally just as brutal as the Russian ones. Players will have to unlock the second of the two maps, and they will also have to unlock the new challenges by completing the previous ones, as in the core game. There are also a whole bunch of, well seven, new American vehicles to enjoy, including a couple I have actually heard of.

 
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Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds Edition is the most niche of niche games. It is a game about driving real slowly and getting stuck. It is a game about frustration as you lose your cargo, and elation when making the delivery. It can be relaxing, while also being tense. Most of all though, it is a driving game about mud, and most people won’t really know how they feel about mud until they are knee deep in it. Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds Edition is the best version of the game available to newcomers, and is really worth checking out if you fancy your driving to be slow, steady, and covered in mud.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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