Spinning Your Wheels
Spintires: Mudrunner is a super brutal simulation that is not for everyone but should be respected by all. Playing this game and writing this review is not easy for a game like this, but I sure did learn a lot.
Mudrunner puts the player in control of a truck driver where the goal is to get from Point A to Point B. Sounds simple but gameplay is everything but. You ever try to back-up a large flatbed truck, without mirrors, to attach a cargo load, then drive miles away through thick mud, puddles, and tight turns without getting stuck? Unless you are a real life trucker, the answer should be no but playing this game will give you a new found respect for the people that do this for a living.
To be very clear, Mudrunner is a driving game, not a racing game. This is a simulation driving game. And when I say simulation, I mean it. So much so that you have to active/deactivate the parking break any time you want to do anything. You have to back up trucks to attach the cargo load with 100% accuracy; the game does not give you a “close enough, just active it” gimme. And when you get stuck in the mud, oh boy, you get stuck. In. The. Mud.
The mud is actually one of the most impressive aspects about Mudrunner from a gameplay and technical standpoint. When driving through puddles or unpaved wooded areas, the stuff flings all over the place and you can actually see individual clumps caking your tires and wheel beds. I honestly can’t say I have ever seen mud or dirt physics this accurate before. The opening tutorial is enough to give the player a whiff of what is to come but the real learning experience comes from playing through any stage. With this said, even though this is a driving sim, I think Mudrunner is even more of a puzzle game as the player needs to figure out how to deliver loads, get unstuck, and even how to manage gas, time, and not stall the engine. There is so much to think about at every turn, literally, this game can create a high amount of anxiety. If nothing else, I learned that I would never want to be a real life trucker.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I couldn’t finish level one. Couldn’t do it. And I tried and I tried. Plotting the course on the mini map, I determined the shortest route. Although I knew I was going to be driving over some muddy terrain, I never thought much of it as it doesn’t look intimidating. After all, it is just a road, it is in front of me, and I need to drive over it to reach the next turn. However, I never thought I would be as stuck as hard as I was. Only after you twist, turn, and try to winch your way out of a mud puddle for 40 minutes will you realize what type of game this is.
Since I got my ass handed to me by the most basic mud roads in level one, I decided to try my hand at multiplayer co-op. In this mode, you can help drag each other out of the mud but unfortunately, no one else was playing so I was unable to test this out. If you can get three of your closest friends to take this game seriously, I can see how there might be some fun to be had.
On a daily basis, I spend about two hours in my car commuting to and from work. Needless to say, I hate driving and hate traffic even more. Because of this, playing a driving game does not exactly appeal to me as I have to do it everyday. Granted, I am not lugging around bundles of trees and piloting massive vehicles but you get my point. Even though my patience level is not very high for this game, I still respect the hell out of it and understand while some niche players will get a kick out of this. Either way, I suggest playing this for yourself just to experience it. You can watch a stream, sure, but until you hold the controller and move the truck yourself, you will not fully understand. This is the Dark Souls of trucking for sure.
Not As Good As: Outrun
Better Than: Cruisin’ USA
Also Try: Big Mutha Truckers