Going off-road with Spintires…July 8 - 7am
Game Console’s Darren Price swaps the racing circuits of Grid Autosport for the muddy Russian Tundra in Spintires, Oovee Game Studio’s all-terrain truck simulator.
Spintires puts you in control of a fleet of 80s-era Soviet trucks and support vehicles and challenges you to drive across some of the nastiest terrain Russia has to offer.
The aim of the game is simple enough: get your logging truck to the timber yard and drop the logs off at the objective points.
The game ships with five maps: coast, the hill, plains, the river and volcano. Each map offers up a unique terrain with its own challenges.
The game looks great, providing an interesting landscape full of lush vegetation, rugged terrain and murky water.
It has a full day/night cycle that is beautifully lit no matter what time of the day.
You start at a garage, usually with a few vehicles at your disposal- a 4×4 SUV, a tow truck of some sort and maybe a fuel truck. There’s a map showing you where the timber yard is and your objectives. A number of other vehicles are dotted about the map, including your logging truck. Unfortunately much of the map is blacked out due to cloaking points which are unlocked as you get close to them, revealing the obstructed areas.
The maps are cross-crossed with a network of muddy tracks, dried riverbeds and flowing rivers. There are also lakes and ponds to negotiate. Forested areas vary in density and range from stocky pines to flimsy saplings. Depending on your vehicle, some trees can be driven over. Push you luck, though, and you can get your vehicle caught up on a bent tree.
As you take your vehicles across the terrain you need to carefully watch the route ahead, avoiding ruts, rocks and wet mud. By sticking to the browner dry areas and avoiding the darker wetter mud and puddles you reduce the chance of getting stuck.
But get stuck you will.
The game features deformable mud that will displace as your tyres spin until you are right up to your axles in the stuff. If you are lucky, engaging diff lock and all-wheel drive will get you out. If not you are going to need help.
If the vehicle you are in doesn’t have a winch, you are going to have to bring your winch-equipped truck from your garage to your stricken vehicle. By connecting ropes to the stuck vehicle you can winch it out of the mud. If you are on your own, you can attach your winch to a tree and pull yourself out.
Using diff lock and 4×4 increases fuel consumption. Vehicles can be refueled by a tanker truck or at a refueling station. A good refueling strategy is essential to successfully complete the task.
You unlock vehicles on the map by approaching them. Once you have found the logging truck and got it to the lumber yard, you load it and off you go. If you are not careful you will lose your load, or worst tip your truck.
The game’s physics are pretty much spot on, the way that you can rock vehicles back and forth to gain traction is very realistic. Vehicle’s partially inflated tyres deform and with the chassis bouncing around as you drive over the rough terrain. As you go through the mud you can see it getting caked onto your wheels.
The game is difficult, punishingly so, and requires a lot of patience in order to succeed. The steep learning curve isn’t helped by a very sensitive and awkward to control third-person camera.
There’s a hardcore mode for the dedicated off-road trucker and an online mode for some co-operative fun.
Spintires offers players something very different- a driving simulator that isn’t about speed but is instead about taking it easy and being careful. It can be frustrating watching as your vehicle sinks into the mud, but also very uplifting as you finally gain a bit traction and continue on your way.
I had a lot of fun with the game and it’s one that I whole-heartily recommend.
Verdict: 8.5 out of 10