Monday, 2 February 2015

Whiskey Reviews: Spintires plus some stuff that happened

Platform: PC
Release Date: 12 June 2014
Developer: Oovee Game Studios
Publisher: Oovee Game Studios, IMGN.PRO
Where to get it: Steam
Price: £19.99

Spintires is a game about getting stuck in the mud. A lot. That doesn't sound like much fun, so I decided to go a truckin' and see if I could get my wood where it needed to go. Hit the link to find out what happened.

This game has been generously gifted to me from my good friend Farveknor on Steam. Thank you!

Spintires is set in several fairly large maps, predominantly muddy forests with the occasional lake, puddle and plenty of rocks to get in the way. Your goal is to deliver some stuff from one place to another while revealing the map and unlocking other trucks to get stuck in via exploration and a bit of skill (i.e. luck).

It's a surprisingly simple game, working well enough with an Xbox pad to only need occasional mouse input to use various menus such as the garage or advanced functions of some trucks. That said, it's not so simple to get 20 tons of metal and lumber out of a waist deep mudhole without a nearby winch point, and so I present to you exhibit A:

Some say these woods are haunted by the ghost of the little jeep that could and on a cold and misty night you can hear him say: Beep Beep Motherfucker.
Playing solo is a good way to tip over in a ditch after five minutes and so we opted to cooperate for the good of all paper manufacturers everywhere. Farveknor took the agile but not very powerful jeep while I chose to be ambitious and mounted a log carrier and trailer extension to carry a medium load.
With Farveknor scouting and navigating it was my job to just try not to get carried away and kill him, sadly this happened a couple of times when attempting to winch him out of deep mud or water and I stomped on the gas because I'm an idiot.
Just because we had a good method didn't mean the trip was uneventful; the terrain is deformable and the mud sucks your truck down like Cthulhu's breakfast. Within the space of five minutes we'd achieved: sinking in mud, rolling the jeep, getting pinned to the bottom of a river by my load of logs, going the wrong way and getting a rock jammed under the fourth axel of my truck while going up hill.
The dirt roads become doubly treacherous at night when your vision is limited to whatever lights you decided to jam on your truck of choice. Typically the light cone is pretty generous but not being able to see other players headlights (they just have a weird glow behind their vehicle, as you can see above) makes navigating even in pairs a nightmare.
All said and done, the one delivery took us about an hour to complete and the sense of satisfaction when I hit the 'unload trailer' button at the sawmill was so good, that same kind of satisfaction you get from playing Euro Truck Simulator 2, it's not for everyone but it has a wider appeal than anyone would have thought possible.

One of the highlights of our trip was desperately needing fuel about two thirds of the way to our objective. Unfortunately the fuel tank was hidden up a winding forest road that was heavily washed out, littered with large rocks and about as uneven as a Tijuana boob job.
With my truck having far more purchase and a higher seated engine, I took the lead with the little jeep tied to the back with about five meters of winch cable so we could pick our way through the quagmire without getting stuck.
Getting through only took about three minutes but it felt like an eternity, and in a good way. There was constant communication about water levels, uneven terrain and what to watch out for that made those three minutes as exciting as any Counter Strike match.
Getting back out was no less fun, armed with our new knowledge of dangerous spots in the water we decided to take safer paths and still managed to have a close brush with rocks, a bit of a dig in the dirt and finally a premature bit of congratulating before slamming on the brakes a bit too hard.

Just another day at Sainsbury's car wash.
When things go wrong, it's not a matter of reflexes but having a look around for ways out of your situation. Sometimes a little perseverance is all that's needed to plow through the mess you've made and escape undamaged, save for a little spent fuel.
Your tools are fairly straightforward and easy to understand; all-wheel drive, differential lock and a winch are your three main sources of freedom but none of those will help you if you stall your engine, either via flipping or remaining submerged for more than a second or two. If you're playing alone this is pretty much the end of your run, in hardcore mode your session is a write-off and you need to start fresh but on normal difficulty you can happily respawn at the map's garage and give it another shot - or attempt to rescue your previous effort via one of the many fun vehicle modifications.

At the garage you can outfit your vehicle with fuel tanks, repair beds, cranes, trailers, lights, protection, front exhausts, different wheels, and probably a dozen other things I've not seen yet but they all serve a purpose and having that few repair points stashed on your trailer just might save you from a sticky end.
I got the engine started again, but promptly sank because jeeps are not boats.
They are submarines though.
Overall Spintires is a worthy accomplishment for a small studio and the mechanics are pretty unique while remaining in that sim-lite area where you don't need an expensive wheel and intricate knowledge of a H-shifter to enjoy yourself but it's not for everyone. The maps aren't very varied, all of them are the same muddy, wet forest type area but even small changes in terrain have different challenges for different vehicles.
The physics simulation and deformable terrain are solid but not too taxing on your system either, the game will stand up to many attempts to break it but we did see a couple of instances of falling through the world after particularly violent impacts to the top of the vehicles pushed them through the floor.
Before the score I'd like to leave you with Whiskey Reviews debut video that says it all:

Score: 6 flooded carburetters out of 10.

Finally, in light of this week's fuckery in gaming revolving around Ubisoft I'd like to make a closing statement about that.
For those that don't know, Ubisoft yanked games from uplay users accounts that'd been bought on third party reseller sites (like G2A) and didn't communicate clearly throughout the whole affair. Customers contacting support were fobbed off by uninterested or uninformed support staff and when an initial statement came it was unclear and unhelpful.
Instead of diving into my own rant (I did lose my Far Cry 4) I'd like to present you with two links: Savy Gamer (linked with permission) and Game Informer.
Savy Gamer pretty much echoes my own views on the subject 100% while Game Informer highlights the other side of the story - the vilified reseller sites have been more helpful than the official publishers. I had my own refund in a couple of days and with no frustration while Ubisoft still had their thumb up their arses to redirect the bullshit to their gobs.

To be clear, I don't support the theft that occurred in this fiasco and Ubisoft did the right thing, they were well within their rights. The point is that they went about it in the worst way possible, clear and helpful communication would have gone a long way to helping them come out as the good guys thwarting a crime but instead they decided they relate more to the Legion Of Doom and take a shit on the little guy (the Legion Of Doom do that right?)
To add the list of people I've said naughty words to here and on Twitter: Fuck you Ubisoft. Right in the ass. You were ultimately in the right but you still have a lot to learn about not being assholes.

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