Review: MudRunner: A Spintires Game (PS4)

Review: MudRunner: A Spintires Game (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: MudRunner: A Spintires Game
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (938.7 MB)
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Saber Interactive
Original MSRP: $39.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £34.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

MudRunner: A Spintires game is a different kind of game where it isn’t about speed and good looks. There are no loot boxes or an online-only single player component and the only grinding you’ll be doing is with the gears, but what is this game all about?

Gameplay:
MudRunner is a filthy game that began its life on the PC and is now on PlayStation 4 along with a few improvements. Controls were a big concern of mine as I had seen several people moan about the complex PC setup. I needn’t have worried as the DualShock 4 is used in a nice and logical way with only two minor issues.

The first is that when I’m trying to load a trailer full of logs, the trailer has to be perfectly lined up with the truck. This was easily solved once I knew I had to keep everything straight and it makes sense really considering what I’m hauling, but even the small log trailer needs to aligned.

Then there is the trailer clamp. It is more from ignorance that the problem arose as I was attempting to select the winch and accidentally released the trailer. I then spent ages trying to reverse into the correct position to reattach the trailer but nothing was signaling that I was lined up right.

It was only when I nudged the right D-pad to the Advanced mode and noticed the on-screen pop-up. Since then I know to simply give the pad a tap and the pop-up appears letting me attach the trailer if the truck is in the correct position. There are a few other little quirks that seemed odd at first but now I quite like them.

The camera movement is very different. I gives you the ability to pan and swoop all around the front and rear of the vehicle but there are no fixed positions apart from inside the cab in a first-person view. Although the mirrors don’t reflect anything and it is often very difficult to see, it isn’t like I can lean as if I was in VR.

The freedom to angle the camera at the wheels to see if the huge truck is getting enough traction or just digging into the mud is invaluable in a game like this. Most of the time I was assessing the terrain and trying to perfect the angle and speed of the truck while making sure to not tip or sink too far into the soft ground.

I cannot think of another game that relies so heavily on physics. It takes something that sounds simple and easy, drive a massive truck full of logs from A to B, and makes it anything but. Making sure to get the correct angle as I drive into a fast-flowing river, making slight adjustments to avoid the dangerous water level from rising too high as I inch my way across is frighteningly tense.

Most vehicles come with a winch that can be attached to several parts of the frame and all manner of other things. This can be quite handy to pull me out of some sticky situations or tow something along. In the main game, I can approach the objectives in any way I want, using different vehicles with a wide variety of trailers or attachments.

Maps are huge and it takes a very long time to traverse the inhospitable environments so going for Watchpoints to see the surrounding area can make things easier. There are usually some vehicles to find and unlock along the way and some things to squash for those pretty little virtual trinkets. Anyone who has the desire to go for the Platinum will have to spend a long time in this game but it doesn’t seem like an impossible task.

Challenges are new to this version and offer a fun and nail-biting way to get accustomed to the various trucks and their attachments. I especially like the new maps that encompass everything you could think of to test these rugged vehicles.

Hardcore mode makes things more realistic and forces you to use the crane to load logs or it makes the differential lock not available with automatic gearbox mode. Getting used to the gearbox is a must if you want to become the best.

In the more difficult mode, I also cannot see the on-screen red objective line showing any routes that I have marked out on the map while driving. It often resembles a hectic day on the Stock Exchange as it auto adjusts while I’m driving, the line rises and falls over the uneven terrain and trees in quite a dramatic fashion.

Saving seems to only happen when you press the options button but at least it saves right up to that exact moment. There are no save slots so any mistakes have to be rectified with repair points and the trusty winch or a restart.

So apart from delivering logs to timber yards you’ll be rescuing other vehicles and unlocking other garages using garage points from certain goods on the trailers. And if you are anything like me then you’ll be reclaiming lost trailers and broken vehicles from the depths of rivers and muddy gullies.

I tend to go for everything on the map, unlocking everything I can and then delivering the logs. All of this tends to take about one and a half hours unless I get into too many difficulties, and that’s just in the normal mode. I guarantee the hardcore version will take me much longer.

Visuals:
The graphics are great, not crystal clear Gran Turismo Sport fidelity but it all works perfectly well to show mud being churned up by thick tires, small trees and other foliage being broken and squashed, and water being disturbed and washing away the caked on mud and dirt.

The buildings and roads are few and far between and they all look abandoned and rundown. A few streetlights are still working and obviously, the timber yard is still running, but apart from that it looks like the edge of a Russian town after an unspeakable disaster.

I especially like the Trophy pop-up with smoke billowing out behind it, I wish more games would make the effort when it comes to showing off our achievements. Now that I mention it, the exhaust smoke, water ripples, and splashes look fantastic too.

Trees, grass, reeds, and pretty much everything else in the game all reacts in a realistic manner when it comes into contact with the beastly trucks. I have noticed one or two oddities with things like small branches being temporarily stuck in the wheel arches or the crane clipping some unseen thing in the environment and briefly acting crazy. Harmless stuff really and nothing that happens often.

This is what I want from a few other games, just to a slightly more manageable degree. I can just imagine edging my way through a landscape like this in a first-person shooter filled with military vehicles or blazing around a muddy track in an off-road racer.

Audio:
MudRunner has some music but I soon turned it off as this game is all about hearing the sound of the engine, the crack of branches and stone under the heavy weight of the monstrous vehicles, the rush of water as it surrounds the cab, and the gentle sounds of the unseen wildlife that flee as I press my loud horn.

Just like the relaxing and tranquil pace of Farming Simulator 17 and a few other games, this one is perfect for listening to your own music, a good podcast like the popular PS Nation one, or chatting with friends, which brings me nicely to the online portion of the game.

Online/Multiplayer:
This doesn’t have to be a lonely experience as there is an online mode with the choice of searching through the public lobbies or creating your own. Searching can be awkward as the list refreshes every now and again, kicking you back to the start. Most attempts at joining resulted in timing-out unless I managed to find a game still in the lobby.

You can create a private game to invite some friends or a public one and hope random people join. The server leader is in control of turning on the engines and kicking people. I had found a beastly eight-wheel drive truck and used it to winch another player’s ride up a very steep slope and then we went our separate ways to unlock some Watchpoints and a garage.

I really like the online mode and apart from the clunky lobby selection, it works really well. Getting some friends together and dividing the workload is a great way to play the game and, of course, the ability to help or hinder others is always fun.

Conclusion:
MudRunner: A Spintires Game is a challenging and intricate test of off-road haulage through demanding landscapes where the slightest lapse in concentration could end in disaster. A few issues and quirks take some getting used to but the rewarding nature of the game more than makes up for any problems.

I heartily recommend this unique game that will test the skills, nerve, and determination of any gamer. The inside of the trucks are a little basic but everything else is excellent. The physics and particle effects are outstanding and very little compares to the high realism this game excels in.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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