Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds Edition

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Title:  Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds Edition
Developer:  Saber3D
Publisher:  Focus Home Interactive
Website:http://www.mudrunner-spintires.com/en
Genre:  Simulation, Adventure, Racing
Platform:  Nintendo Switch
Audience:  Everyone
Release Date:  27/11/2018
Price:  £34.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this game.

What the Developers say

The ultimate off-road experience!

Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds is the ultimate version of the indie hit Spintires: MudRunner, putting players in the driver’s seat and daring them to take charge of incredible all-terrain vehicles, venturing across realistic, physics-simulated landscapes with only a map and compass as guides!

Drive more than 30 powerful all-terrain vehicles including iconic US brands like Western Star, Hummer and Chevrolet, and equip them with 60 add-ons to suit your mission! Complete your objectives and deliveries across 10 unique sandbox maps and 11 challenge maps set in the untamed landscapes of Siberia and for the first time in MudRunner, Northern USA.

Overcome muddy terrain, raging rivers, and other obstacles that all realistically react to the weight and movement of your vehicle powered by the game’s advanced physics engine. Take your map, compass, winch, and your driving skills, go solo or join up to three others in the co-op multiplayer.

Introduction

I am a massive fan of driving games. Massive! With 24 hour endurance races on Gran Turismo and full-length grand prix events on Formula 1 just a few worth mentioning, I have had my fair share of video game driving experiences. Never…I repeat…never, has any of these started with the words: 

“The aim of the game is to deliver logs to the Lumber Mill.”

A highly unusual mission, and one I cannot say I have been waiting patiently for from a game in recent years. The question is though, is it one I should have been logging…I mean longing…for? Read on to find out with a Rapid Review of ‘Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds.’

Designed and developed by Saber3D, and subsequently published by Focus Home Interactive, ‘Spintires: MudRunner’ is a realistic physics driving simulator, offering a unique opportunity to experiment with over 30 all-terrain vehicles as you navigate your way through a number of challenging landscapes. Having made its home on PC, PS4 and Xbox One at the end of 2017, it has found its way onto the Nintendo eShop. Advertised as the ultimate version of the game, ‘Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds’ builds upon the original ‘Spintires’ from 2014, providing additional vehicles, a sandbox map, a challenge mode for veterans, and a complete graphics overhaul. 

Looks and Sounds

Having never played the original, it is difficult to comment on how successful the graphics overhaul has been in this edition. What I can say, however, is that ‘Spintires: MudRunner’ looks fantastic on the Nintendo Switch. From the incredible attention to detail on the many different vehicles to the way the light shimmers off the murky puddles, I was very much impressed.

It is clear that ‘Spintires’ has its roots firmly placed in PC gaming, and Switch owners are now reaping the rewards. What I enjoyed most about the graphical content of Saber3D’s creation was just how good it looked on-screen, whether moving or stood still. Witnessing the mud as it flicked off the tyres having completed yet another tyre spin, or seeing the effects of the on-rushing water as I sank my truck into a river and watched it be washed clean by the time I reached the other side, was a sight to behold. 

Although graphically impressive, the soundtrack is a little less so. I found the musical elements to the game didn’t offer much, and there is only so much engine noise one can endure. It is evident that the developers have worked hard to create an authentic experience, and in doing so, all the grunting, spluttering and mud-churning sound effects have come with it. Difficult to fault, however much more difficult to listen to for long periods of time. I chose not to have the volume on when playing and instead consorted with my online music collection to provide some well-placed backing music: ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ by John Denver gets an honourable mention here!

Gameplay and Replayability

After an initial tutorial, which was both informative and concise, I was raring to go. I had a good grasp of the essentials: releasing the handbrake, navigating the in-game map, making use of the differential lock-systems, and attaching the winch – also known as the ‘life-saver’ – to a variety of different objects. It was during this tutorial that I realised how excited I was to get stuck in, and stuck in I got! 

‘Spintires: MudRunner’ offers two distinct game modes: a single player experience and a challenge mode. I will begin with the latter, as it was recommended to me that I start here once I had completed the tutorial. The reason for this being that the challenges expose you to a variety of different elements that the tutorial does not. Offering eleven different scenarios – two of which are included as additional DLC – they each consist of an overarching objective and several bonus objectives which offer a maximum of three stars (for those looking for 100% completion.) The objectives can be anything from picking up a trailer and driving the rig to a small town, to using the forest crane to collect and pack logs. On paper, they do not sound like the most riveting of tasks, however looks, or rather words, can be deceiving. I had a blast navigating my way through the ‘muddy terrain and raging rivers’ to reach my destination. 

The main reason for my enjoyment has to be attributed to the advanced physics engine employed by Saber3D. The manner with which the vehicles respond to: the different terrains; the weight of the vehicle based on its load; and the damage incurred due to the unforgiving landscapes, make for a truly realistic experience. It made me plan my routes in advance and take extra precaution to ensure I didn’t make a mistake – a far cry from the racing simulators of late which offer the option to rewind time to correct any errors. 

The aforementioned single-player offering provides a much more open experience, with a rather large sandbox map to uncover. There are points of interest marked on screen, and you must use the vehicles selected before launching the level to collect and deliver the logs to the mill. These vehicle choices can have a major impact on proceedings, with the larger maps requiring more distance to be covered, meaning fuel will be a priority. For other maps, the size of the logs may differ and you will therefore need to plan accordingly. The maps are both engaging and creative, however I often found myself drawn back to the challenges as the task was clearer and the bonus objectives provided additional motivation. 

With all that Saber3D have tried to pack into this ‘ultimate version’, it was inevitable that something would feel the effects. For all its graphical prowess in docked mode, the handheld presentation is lacking. As a game that many would benefit from playing in handheld mode – offering the ability to make little progress often – it is a shame to see such disparity between the graphics on display. The difference is noticeable enough that I refrained from playing the game in handheld at all. 

Conclusion

‘Spintires: MudRunner’ fits into a rather niche market and as such, I feel it has to be judged accordingly. It won’t appeal to all, and I don’t believe it is trying to. Providing a challenging, realistic driving simulator is its aim, and it does so very well. Apart from the poor graphical presentation in handheld mode, and the initially difficult to navigate camera angle, ‘Spintires’ is an excellent advocate for real-life simulation gaming and one I am pleased to have been able to experience. 

Rapid Reviews UK Rating

4 out of 5

You can purchase Spintires: MudRunner – American Wilds on the Nintendo eShop NOW at the following address, https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Games/Nintendo-Switch/Spintires-MudRunner-American-Wilds-1468619.html

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