"Mud Runner, A Spintires Game" is an off-road driving simulation with novel mud, water and vehicle physics. Russian vehicles are used to carry out tasks in various Russian wilderness settings over large map areas, with day-night cyles.
There is a tutorial covering the principle activities in the game: driving, selecting four wheel drive and diff-locking, towing and winching, using cranes to load and unload logs and selecting vehicle load-outs for various uses and navigating and placing way-points on the the 3D map screen.
The main objectives in the game are trying not to get stuck while carrying logs through various types of treacherous scenery, de-cloaking hidden areas of the map through driving up to certain points, finding, unlocking, refueling and repairing hidden vehicles in the levels and unlocking garages.
The old game, Spintires was released to some acclaim on PC, but an unfortunate spat between the developer, Pavel Zagrebelny and his publisher Oovee meant the development of the game was halted after release over accusations of bad financial faith. The game proved popular with the modding community through the many mods made for new levels and vehicles long after the development had stopped for the game.
Spintires has found a new developer (who Pavel works with) and a new publisher - Focus Home Interactive - who already has a fair reputation with these "sim" type games, through publishing Farming Simulator on multiple platforms and being able to include user mods in that game on console.
Mud Runner's Improvements Over Spintires
Mud Runner is not quite a Spintires v2.0, so much as a polished and tuned v1.5 with a bit of added DLC, re-done maps, a couple of new trucks, some short challenge scenarios and tutorials for the mud-virgins.
The developer conceded this is a more of a relaunch and refresh, through offering half price discounts to owners of the original game, at the time of writing. Pavel has developed a tool so that original Spintires PC mods will be easily ported to the new PC Mud Runner platform.
The "new" version has updated physics, with liquids in the vehicles' tanks, carried loads and bowsers sloshing about accurately and sometimes displaying through an x-ray view on the vehicles, and loose branches snapping or resisting appropriately under the tyres.
The maps have been renamed and embellished.
The graphics have also had a slight refresh, with various new sorts of grasses added and small oil slicks being left sometimes in the puddles, as the old Russian hardware belches and splutters through the scenery. It still looks a bit washed out, but is very detailed and has some lovely lighting effects (i.e. the black exhaust clouds from huge, D-class, 8-wheelers catching sunlight rays through the tree foliage).
The new interface seems much better designed for game-pad control with additions like "auto-winch" locating the nearest tree (if there is one nearby...).
There has been a new in-cab First person view added. At the time of writing, the dials on the dashboard were rendered in simple 2D and the wing mirrors did not display what's behind, although the view from the cab window is realistic.
The 4 player multiplayer is also retained and support for wheels has been added too.
Mud Runner Content
Options for Single Player, Challenges, Tutorial, Multiplayer, Controls and Settings display on the main menu. Single and Multiplayer options go to the Maps area.
There are 9 challenges in the game that gradually introduce players to the concepts of the larger maps in the game.
Challenges are short single-player missions in custom maps that give a specific goal and 2 optional goals (i.e. drive at night) to beat them. Up to 3 stars are awarded for completion and completing challenges unlocks the next challenges.
Repair & Refuel
Climb A Hill
Cross A River
There are 6 large maps in the game that can be used in single or multiplayer modes.
Maps are where the main content of the game is and the concepts learned through completing the tutorial and challenge levels can be used. The main objectives for each map are to carry logs from one area to another. Maps are partially obscured at first and may be exposed by driving to marker points flags. Hidden vehicles and garages may then be uncovered, activated and rescued to aid the log supply task.
The maps have similar terrain concepts to the original maps of Spintires, but have been remodeled and renamed in the new game with some new graphic elements.
Similar to Plains
Similar to Volcano
Similar to Coast
Similar to River
Similar to Hill
Similar to level_flood
The game can get very strategic, especially in the main maps' "hardcore" mode, where fuel usage is increased, turning circles realistically reduced, retrieving stuck and broken vehicles to a garage is restricted, map markers show as a small circle, rather than direction lines and the diff-locking feature is restricted to manual gear mode. Planning for fuel stops, using the correct vehicles and loadouts is essential for success, as is planning for failure by having options to retrieve vehicles that shed loads, get stuck, or get washed away by the strong currents on some maps.
There is a committed modding community for the previous game, who have already re-created many types of off-road bizarre and over-sized vehicles to test on the cruel environments in the Russian wilderness.