Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Meanwhile in Siberia...

Time to break out the winch...
With each new generation of console hardware it has become standard practice to have at least one showcase racing game in order to entice prospective buyers with improved graphic fidelity.  Xbox One has Forza Motorsports, PS4 touts the Gran Turismo series, and Wii U rounds it out with Mario Kart.  Of course there are many more titles focusing on closed course NASCAR, Formula One and Rallying, but all these games tend to focus on competing against other drivers.  Enter Spin Tires, an off road driving game wherein the completion takes the form of nature itself.

No 150cc go-kart racing in the Mushroom Kingdom here.  We're talking 38,800cc MAZ artillery-hauling trucks, designed back in 1960s Soviet Russia (built around 12 cylinder diesel engines that are only slight modified versions what were used by the World War II era T-34 medium tank!)  There are plenty of other vehicles as well, such as the KrAZ utility transport, typically charged with carrying around large amounts of fuel, lumber, and repair equipment.  Then there is the UAZ army jeep, nicknamed the "Kozlik" (Russian for "goat") which serves as a kind of scout and pathfinder.

This thing only weights 20 tons...
What could possibly go wrong?
The level of detail on display is also quite impressive.  Unlike the clean, rigid structures of most sports cars, these monsters of the Cold War have individual components that shake and rattle while spewing forth smoke, mud and occasionally rocks that get caught up in the treads.  The low pressure tires deform over rough terrain; displacing boulders, knocking over saplings and gouging deep ruts in soft patches of earth.  Water ripples realistically when disturbed, and washes away accumulated dirt when vehicles passing through it.  The exhaust pipes even gurgle when submerged.  There's also a day/night cycle that gives the dense forests, murky ponds and swollen rivers a mysterious beauty.

Forget flashy stunts, just making it form one end of the map to the other without running out of gas, getting stuck or suffering a breakdown is an impressive accomplishing unto itself.  Spin Tires can be played multiplayer too, though the only reason to do so appears to be for co-operative reasons, since there isn't any in-game incentive to impede another player.

So what is Spin Tires?  A game for Euro Truck Simulator fans looking to get back to nature?  I'm not sure, but I do think the game's underlying design philosophy can be summed up by saying "In America you mostly destroy nature, but in Russia nature mostly destroys you."

No comments:

Post a Comment