The name Spintires doesn’t offer a whole lot of confidence right off the grid. It’s extremely bland and doesn’t say anything other than the most basic thing that a road vehicle does. So when you boot up a game with this sort of name, expectations start off very low, and in most cases, you meet it head on. Thankfully, Spintires is part of the minority of games that not only manages to surpass any pre-notion you might have based solely on its name, but also grab you and leave you hopelessly devoted to what most folks would consider mundane.
That’s because the mundane is what Spintires is all about. As the driver of a host of different 1970s/1980s’ Soviet-era trucks, it’s your job to deliver loads of lumber and fuel, from one location to the other, while dealing with terribly kept dirt roads, steep hills, trees and most often than not, the elements.
All of these challenges would be considered an easy side activity in most games, but it’s the meat of Spintires and Oove Game Studios took the task and ran with it to the extreme, by making incredible use of the physics engine Havok. The forces of the laws of physics make their presence known as soon as you turn the virtual keys and your truck’s engines fire up. Simply flooring the gas pedal usually yields zero results, since about 90% of the roads in the game are muddy, you’re likely to get stuck just a few meters off of your garage.
Most trucks in Spintires are equipped with a 4×4 mode and interlocked tires, which can be switched on and off as necessary, keeping in mind your vehicle’s fuel consumption. If you happen to run out of fuel during a run, though, it’s very possible to save yourself a complete reset. Thanks to the clumsy to control map screen, you’re able to warp into any of your unlocked trucks located in the level. Pop in a fuel add-on, and pow, you’re ready to rescue your pal.
Rescuing trucks is probably the most fun part of Spintires. On both single and multiplayer modes, it’s easy to lose track of what you were doing whenever something goes wrong. It starts out as a headache due to how little of an effort the game does to teach you how to use the tools that are available, like the winch and tow that almost all the trucks are equipped with. If you can manage to get stuck in a spot near some trees, you can winch your truck free by attaching a rope to two anchor ports, one on your truck, which varies from the type you are driving and its position, and to the nearest tree within a certain area, or another vehicle. Pull the winch, and voilà, the heaviest of trucks is magically pulled away by the thinnest of trees.
Sure, that example doesn’t play well with the overall realism that Spintires tries to emulate, but then again, it would royally suck to be stuck in a ditch half way through a very long haul. Still, if you are somehow irritated by what you could consider a “winch cop-out,” you’re welcome to tackle hardcore mode, which basically drops the hammer and leaves you out for pasture, with none of the do-dads the people who play the game on the normal difficulty setting have access to. But hey, you get an achievement if you manage to finish a level!
If you are fascinated as I am by achievements, or for simply messing around with games in order to find your own fun, Spintires is surprisingly the game for us. I can count on one finger the times I actually focused on making a delivery and would lose my mind keeping track of what I decided to put those poor trucks through, going up particularly rocky hills in order to discover just about every nook and cranny Spintires‘ maps have to offer.
Much like Euro Truck Simulator, Spintires is much more of a game than it initially suggests. It’s very convoluted at the start, but as you struggle with its minimal interface and unfriendly design, you’re bound to find its charm, probably somewhere along the first mud track you get stuck in, desperately shifting gears, opening up Google and researching a way to escape. It tricks you into thinking it’s a mundane game by pretty much delivering a truck driving experience in the straightest of ways, dry to the bone, humorless. Tire-deep in mud, you’ll find that Spintires is anything but boring. In fact, it’s something else entirely.