Spintires: MudRunner Review
Get up at the crack of dawn, with the morning dew still dancing on each blade of grass, and smell that crisp fresh air. Your truck sits idly by your side, waiting to tear up the earth beneath its wheels and do what you do best; navigate. With only your wits and experience to guide you, can you make it through the dirt, mud, and underbrush and safely arrive at your destination? Start her up and kick it in drive, it’s time to hit the not-so-open road.
Developed by Saber Interactive, Spintires: MudRunner is a unique simulator that at first glance might make you think of the popular Farm Simulator franchise, however, once you get your hands on the wheel you can see this is an entirely new animal that imbues a very real sense of being a self-reliant lone wolf. MudRunner is a game simply about doing the job at hand in lieu of a story, but in all honesty a story might be the last thing this game needs. Players will take on the role of a nameless truck driver setting out to simply do his job: pick up the cargo and take it where it needs to go. The game offers six different open worlds for the missions to take place and as soon as you begin the journey you get a sense of the quest that lies ahead. You’ll need to pull up your map and plot your own course to the objective: will you stay on the main path to take it easy? Or trail-blaze through the brush? The choice is yours; however whichever route you take will require your full attention behind the wheel.
“Spintires: MudRunner is an off-roading simulator with serious potential to be a surprise hit for fans of simulators.”
SpinTires: MudRunner excels at being a simulator. This is not a game where you want to rip around at full speed; rather you need to make the best use of your time, fuel, and driving ability. It will be crucial to locate refueling stations on your path as swapping between normal and four-wheel drive, as well as activating the truck’s differential, will eat up a lot of fuel in exchange for power and assistance in driving. With the game’s extensive detail in creating a worthy simulation, mud and wet dirt can easily become a serious problem should you be unable to get any traction. Luckily each truck comes with its own winch to hook onto a tree and help pull you free.
Watching your selected vehicle make its way through the water, mud, and underbrush, you’ll want to take it nice and slow to stop yourself from rolling or veering off the road. The game’s tutorial helps you get the basics down, but that’s where MudRunner’s major downfall lies; its tutorial. While it does a great job of learning how to switch trucks, use the 4×4 and differential, the winch, and the very basics of navigating the game, it does nothing to explain how to complete the only slightly more advanced features, nor is there a user-friendly menu to figure it out. Trying the challenge mode, I was tasked with driving to pick up a trailer and taking the trailer to its destination. I got my truck in position and… well, nothing. The menu did not give me an option to hitch, nor could I find any explanation on how to connect my truck to the trailer.
I decided instead that the information might pop up during the actual gameplay, but no such luck. I made my way to the lumber yard to load up my trailer yet the game gave me no indication of what buttons to hit or what menu to open. I found myself sitting there for an awkward amount of time trying to figure out what to do. If there had been any kind of simple explanation, it would easily have made this a unique simulator experience but instead, it left me wondering what else I could play.
While I did eventually find the solution, it took far longer than it should have and felt like a massive oversight on the part of the developers. Every other part of the game commanded my attention with a sobering sense of purpose and duty to complete the delivery. I started Spintires: MudRunner with an open mind and found myself strongly getting behind what the game had to offer, but the lack of instruction makes it too much of a guessing game to effectively pull in new players.
Spintires: MudRunner is an off-roading simulator with serious potential to be a surprise hit for fans of simulators – particularly the Farming Simulator series. It creates a sense of purpose and duty in the job you set out to complete, and you desperately want to complete the task at hand, however, the almost complete lack of instructions on advanced yet core mechanics of the game will definitely be a point of frustration for gamers who have not previously played Spintires. For everything this game gets right – the attention to detail, the physics engine, and the freedom before you – it means very little if you can’t complete a single delivery.
*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***
- Stellar graphics
- Excellent physics engine
- Authentic simulation
- Genuinely interesting
- Simplistic tutorial
- Lack of advanced control training