Spintires Моя прекрасная Грузовик
The relationship of tire upon terrain. Since the dawn of civilisation, mankind has had a fascination with the wheel. Johnny Hart's B.C. certainly illustrates the point as a confraternity that was born in prehistory. We all love a good racing game, but ever since I went offroad in the digital sense, I yearned specifically for more. And, honestly, the slower the better. While Invictus' 1NSANE established the sweaty addiction to finicky overland fare, it was with little-known titles like UAZ Racing 4X4 and Off-Road Drive that cemented it. Games that thrived on being the most glacial racers on the planet. These were the true offroad games. And here, with Spintires, we're seeing it ratcheted up to the next level – although currently with a few caveats.
UAZ Racing 4X4 and Off-Road Drive were indeed racers, however far from the Dew-glugging gymkhanas of the DiRT series. Traversing swamps and near-vertical hills with all manner of gearbox mastery, differential locking and unlock, as well as deft winch usage. While the satisfaction of high-speed powersliding through a Burnout game or a Bugbear-sponsored rending of metal is tough to match, something like Spintires exists elsewhere.
A bog-ridden elsewhere.
Spintires has just released on Steam and, in its current state, is the toughest delivery driver simulation I've yet put paw to. Starring the Soviet's finest heavy machinery, primarily the MAZ and its myriad variants, a player is tasked with picking up lumber from outpost mills scattered across sprawling terrain and delivering it elsewhere. Indeed, merely driving from A to B. But here, there are no waypoints or GPS directions. Here, there are no pretenders to the muddy throne of slow-going.
What separates Spintires from most other recent vehicle games is the track deformation. We saw similar technology used in the phenomenal one-shot by SEGA Racing Studios' SEGA Rally Revo, if to a much lesser degree. A run in Spintires has elephantine haulers navigating metre-deep sludge that'll bog even the most wary of frontiersmen. The deep, soggy ruts forged in one direction will still be there on the return, possibly to play a more hazardous obstacle the second time around. Tactical use of the winch, tire position, even things like utility cranes or other vehicles are order of the day. There is no greater sense of triumph in making it to a delivery point, and no greater sense of tragedy when a Scud truck lolls to one side in an inescapable mire. Or worse; rolls.
The Havok-powered physics feel good. Really good. The sense of inertia as a truck thunders down an incline is as well-tuned as plying a sucking morass. Churning through a turgid swamp, seeing the water rush and ripple about the diesel-chugging goliath, hasn't been this much fun since, well, Off-Road Drive. Vehicles rumble and roll over the uneven terrain, showcasing not only the articulation of each truck, but the deformation properties built into the tires. They react to weight, surface and acceleration in a way I've not seen before; squashing appropriately and caking with clods.
But all is not perfect in the world of Siberian logging.
For a game that is aiming to be be-all-end-all for mudders and Russian machine fetishists, the distinct lack of wheel support right now is the biggest deficit. Developer Oovee state such peripheral usage will be catered to in a patch, but if you're a purist, you might find the Xbox 360 controller something of a travesty. I personally think a controller is the way to go, but I wouldn't say no to edging through slop with my hands on the DFP and feeling the rumble of terrain 'neath the treads.
Also served alongside the lack of wheel support is the brow-furrowing lack of internal view. Personally, I don't mind the freely-rotatable chase camera, as I like to assess the road ahead or the hole I'm digging, but not being able to steer from within the cabin is a bit of a letdown. Oovee have mentioned it'll probably be part of a free DLC bundle, but for the time being, get used to driving via every camera direction bar the one inside the truck.
The Spintires alpha had oodles of community mods to bolster a relative lack of content in the early days, and while I strongly suspect the game will receive the Steam Workshop treatment, the game doesn't support mods at the time of writing. Eventual mitigation appears to be the theme of Spintires right now, so all we can do is wait. After all, those four-odd maps are big and arduous, and coupled with multiplayer, Spintires makes a compelling argument for those not dissuaded by the above.
These are my impressions. This spiel is not a review. And perhaps this is a personal indictment, where the act of trying to dislodge my bogged machine from a natural slurry pit is far more engaging than anything I've yet seen on a current generation console.
Or perhaps that's far more a damning indictment of everything else right now. In any case, Spintires is damn good stuff.Steam