Story: You are one of the chosen few. One of the elite, highly trained men and women who do what few others could, braving intense conditions, dangerous roads, and an ever present risk of grave injury or even death. You are a truck driver. In MudRunner, you put your sizable talents to use fulfilling logging orders, picking up trailers, and even using repair and refuel vehicles to complete your assignments. Perhaps lesser drivers would allow an empty gas tank or busted engine to stop them, but you have the power to teleport between vehicles, so you’re never stuck. Unless, you know, you get stuck in four inches of mud. MudRunner is not for the faint of heart, but those with steel nerves and a courage that was long thought lost to the ages. Grab the keys and see if you have what it takes to brave these roads…
Entertainment Value: If the idea of wild, freewheelin’ treks through mud soaked terrain appeals to you, then you might hate Spintires: MudRunner. The game does put a lot of emphasis on mud and off road terrain, but this is no madcap dash, but a complicated, simulator style experience. You know, where you have to release the parking brake, spend ten minutes hooking up to your trailer, then slowly travel to a gas station, refuel, then slowly proceed to a lumber mill. This is the essence of MudRunner, a slow paced, detail oriented game that tasks you to monitor fuel, repair your truck, and of course, try to avoid the numerous mud traps. A simple trek through a moderate mud patch can end your fun real quick, as it can be easy to get stuck, though a winch system can often help pull you out of the muck. But if you want that open road, going bananas kind of mud running, this isn’t that. At all. A simple crossing of a minor creek can prove to be a severe test of your patience and given that well maintained roads aren’t all that common here, it means every time you move forward, you run a constant risk of getting stuck or slowed down to a grind.
I have no issue with simulator games, as some players do want a more grounded, realistic kind of experience. But when you combine the frequent tests of patience and control precision, you need top notch controls, which MudRunners doesn’t have. I wouldn’t call the controls bad by any means, but the game feels loose and when one little shift can cost you minutes of aggravation, I think the developers needed to fine tune and improve these controls. As if the mediocre controls weren’t enough, the game has one of the worst camera systems I’ve ever experienced. Between the camera and the controls, what little fun could be gleaned from this trial by fire is wiped out, leaving us a mundane, frustrating exercise. I appreciate the attempt to offer a hardcore, tough to complete adventure, but hardcore games need hardcore developers, to give players the tools needed to succeed. I do think it feels good to finally cross a tough area or finish a hard mission, but it lacks the usual sense of accomplishment, as the game is more unfair and imbalanced that challenging. You can explore the single player campaign, test yourself with some challenges, or go online to tool around with others. The challenges do offer the chance to learn more of the game’s complex systems, so don’t be shy about going through those. In the end, only hardcore simulator fans will want to spend time with MudRunner and even then, be sure you can deal with the lackluster controls and camera system.
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