Spintires: Mudrunner Review – A Fun & Unique, Truck-tastic Gaming Experience

Spintires: Mudrunner
Saber Interactive/Focus Home Interactive

Big trucks. Logs. Mud. Doesn’t sound too compelling, does it? Okay, let’s try this—big Russian trucks hauling big logs through lots of Siberian mud. Still doesn’t exactly vibrate your needle too much, right? You’re not alone. When I’d first heard of 2014’s Spintires, I thought to myself: “This sounds like the type of crapware that I come across in the bargain rack at my local video game store.” So, like many others, I passed on trying it out.

Lo and behold, a few years later and its follow-up, Spintires: Mudrunner is released, and this time the marketing buzz and hype was too much to ignore. I watched video after video of the game and listened to how people described both its realism (in terms of its advanced physics model) as well as how unique it was as a game. It’s billed as an improved version of the original game, with more trucks, maps, and…you guessed it—mud.

From there, I gave into the hype and grabbed myself a copy of Mudrunner, and boy, were my initial impressions of this game totally wrong—it’s fantastic. The closest thing that it compares to are the Euro or American Truck Simulator games. In each of these types of games, the gameplay revolves around hauling stuff around. However, getting to haul things around in big trucks is where the similarities end.

In Mudrunner, coming across a paved road is a rare occurrence, and so is remaining relatively level and steady. That’s because in this game you’re constantly bobbing up and down in gazillions of gallons of mud and water. Mudrunner has a pretty simple concept. You basically are tasked with hauling logs around from certain points of the map to others.

What sounds like a fairly straight-forward concept is anything but that, literally. The winding, muddy roads that you have to traverse are not only slippery and slidey, but can also depress under the weight of your truck, giving way to more watery elements. Therefore, it’s wise to never drive through the same tire tracks more than once, since the mud physics are so realistic that they’ll keep impressions in the mud throughout the entire match.

I played my matches with a co-op buddy, and if you want to get the most out of the game I’d recommend co-op play. Not only did we have a blast navigating the hostile terrain together, but when one of us would get stuck (and you will get stuck!) we could help each other get out of whatever precarious situation we’d gotten ourselves into (well, admittedly it was him helping me).

For instance, one time I got the bright idea of attempting to drive through a dense patch of woods with my trailer bobbing and weaving around behind me. Inevitably, my trailer (filled to the brim with logs, mind you) got caught behind a large tree that halted my progress. I announced my unfortunate predicament to my friend who had driven ahead of me, and heard him sigh deeply for about the seventh time (he’d saved me that many times). My friend then circled around to the side of my trailer and bumped the front of his truck against it. Because Mudrunner’s physics are so realistic, he managed to nudge my trailer until it was free from the tree.

Another time (I believe goof-up #8) I managed to fully tip my truck and trailer completely onto their sides. After some grunting on my friend’s part, he dropped what he was doing and came to bail me out. Since each truck is outfitted with a powerful winch, he navigated his truck to a spot which sat in an overhead position in relation to my sadly tipped truck and trailer.

After I detached my trailer, he connected his winch to the side of my truck and started trying to pull it upright. Long moments went by as he reversed his truck using its powerful engine. We hooted and hollered as my truck began returning to an upright position. Finally, it was back on all six tires, and we cheered loudly over our headsets.

What I’m illustrating here is that while slogging through tons of mud might not seem super-fun, the emergent events that transpire in the course of doing so, really make the game shine. One minute, you’ll be laughing at yourself for trying to take a shortcut and getting stuck in a deep bog, and the next you’ll be gritting your teeth as you watch a buddy attempt to cross a wide river. Mudrunners can really get your blood pumping and your temples pounding with its ever-changing environmental challenges.

Once you complete your log-hauling duties on one map, you’ll unlock additional maps which are sequentially more difficult. In this way, Mudrunner subtly increases the challenge level once you get the basics down. You’ll also come across trucks out in the field that are placed at randomized locations, so if you’re a completionist, you’ll want to scour every nook and cranny of each map.

In addition to having one of the most advanced physics models I’ve ever seen in a driving game, Mudrunner also sports some very realistic graphics. All of the aging Russian trucks spew out large clouds of black smoke when they lurch forward or back up; mud collects on their massive tires as they pull their cargo through large puddles and bogs; and water cascades realistically around your truck as you attempt to navigate across the lengths of potentially dangerous rivers and streams.

Simply put, Spintires: Mudrunner is one of the most surprisingly good indie games that I’ve played in quite some time. Its unique concept, brilliantly dangerous but fun gameplay, and impressive physics model and visuals, make for some great times. Especially when played with friends.

SCORE: 85%

Spintires: Mudrunner features great graphics that make its truck hauling gameplay truly shine. However, you want to have a pretty beefy gaming PC or gaming laptop in order to play it at a decent framerate. So, you may just want to invest in a decent gaming rig:

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