Review: Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds (Nintendo Switch)

spintires switchAs with the PC and other console versions, Spintires: Mudrunner – American Wilds ($39.99) on the Switch is a pretty outstanding technical achievement, although this latest version isn’t without a few caveats. Packing in all the original game’s content along with the American Wilds expansion, it’s pretty amazing to see this simulation arrive on Nintendo’s hybrid looking and playing so well. Granted, it’s running at half the frame rate of the PC version and you’ll likely enjoy docked mode more than handheld mode if you’re a total visual purist. But it’s still amazing to see the Switch pumping out everything the more powerful consoles can with mostly relative ease.

If you’re new to the game, expect a hefty challenge the simple and quick tutorial deftly dances around because the game is meant to hook you in and have you figure out what you can do at your own pace.  This isn’t some fast-paced arcade monster truck fest with power-ups or turbo boosts galore. Nope, it’s a methodically paced simulation that demands practice and patience galore, but despite the learning curve manages to be incredibly fun and rewarding when all is said and done.

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“Keep on truckin’, baby…. you got to keep on… truckin…”

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Review: Spintires: MudRunner

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Spintires_MudRunner_Pack2D_PS4Taking the wheel from original developer Oovee Game Studios, the talented team at Saber Interactive has brought an expanded and even better SPINTIRES experience to consoles and PC with an excellent, highly challenging, and quite rewarding driving game that’s going to baffle some gamers while it pleases a certain bunch of folks who love to play in the mud.

Interestingly enough, Spintires: MudRunner (or MudRunner: A Spintires Game) also works supremely well as a hybrid driving/puzzle game where the environment is your worst and sole enemy as you attempt to simply drive from Point A to Point B or just try to enjoy exploring the massive, gorgeously detailed maps. This isn’t a game about speed at all, folks. It’s more about control and the ensuing chaos when that control is lost.

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MudRunner adds a new (shorter) tutorial, a new sandbox map, a Challenge mode and ups the truck count from 6 to 19. While it has a “casual” mode, this clearly isn’t a game for those who want to hop in and get blazing down a dirt road taking corners with powerslides. Here, you’ll rarely get above 20mph, the paved roads aren’t the widest you’ll drive on, and that mud? It’s practically got a life of its own thanks to an amazing physics engine that’s been tweaked even more from the PC original.

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Busload of Horror IV: Laugh ‘Til It Hurts… Or Else

Okay, a bit late on this one, but I was busy chopping at my backlogs on assorted stuff and tackling a few fires in other spots. Anyway, here are a few more amusing horror-themed games from the vaults, although they’re not quite vintage having all arrived this year. One technically isn’t a “horror” game at all, but some of you will no doubt get a bit queasy if you think about it in a certain way. For example…

beeftacular_logo Beeftacular: Yuck. Retrific’s squishy, bloody little gem (currently available on Steam) made me stay away from meat for a week when I first played it thanks to… well, just look and see for yourself (IF YOU DARE):

Blech. Maybe it’s the thought of a chunk of raw beef cleansing a map of contaminated beef dipping into my subconsciousness combined with the not so wholesome meat industry pretending things are all fine and Grade A dandy when it’s not. But I couldn’t stomach this for more than an hour before I felt a bit off. Then again, the game’s manic pace and timed stages do get really hectic.

That said, yep, that level editor is mighty excellent, the music is great and if you’re a gamer with a meat fetish as well as a speed running maniac, you won’t need to ask “Where’s the Beef?!” at all. And nope, I never played Super Meat Boy until a few weeks ago – grinning meat is no turn on, either.

beeftacular-screenshot_10  Um, hey… anyone wanna go out for a nice juicy burger? 😛

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Mordheim: City of the Damned Lands on PS4, Xbox One

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“Well, this one looks neat!” said the brain, both halves actually agreeing for a rare change. Focus Home Interactive’s busy year of interesting games I want to play continues with developer Rogue Factor‘s Mordheim: City of the Damned, a really nice-looking tactical RPG based on the classic Games Workshop out of print board game from 1999. Four separate campaigns (a full campaign for each of the four Warbands: The Human Mercenaries, the Sisters of Sigmar, the Skaven of Clan Eshin, and the Cult of the Possessed), online play if you want to compete with like-minded gamers, snazzy visuals, all that good stuff.

While not a “horror” game per se, I do love the visual style chosen quite a lot and hell, imagine wanting to whip up a Halloween outfit based on some of the wilder looking characters? Yep, that would be fun, right down to the people running away from you and into nearby trees or lampposts. Ouch.

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SHINESS: The Lightning Kingdom Gallery

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French developer Enigami has been hard at work on its Action/RPG SHINESS: The Lightning Kingdom for about three years now and with publisher Focus Home Interactive set to bring the game to eager PC, PS4 and Xbox One owners later this year, it’s time to take a look at it in one big video and image gallery. Here’s the most recent gameplay trailer, or more precisely, a story trailer presented at Gamescom 2016:


 

More action abounds in this earlier gameplay trailer:


 

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The Technomancer Launch Trailer: Get Your Ass To Mars on PC & Consoles

With the risky and expensive on a few fronts potential of sending humans to Mars (on a one-way trip, yet!) being a big deal over the past couple of years, it’s clear that entertainment focused on the Angry Red Planet is going to be hot for a while. Fresh from veteran developer Spiders and publisher Focus Home Interactive comes The Technomancer, an action/RPG for PC, PS4, and Xbox One out tomorrow. A prequel to MARS: War Logs, the game looks to add to the lore Spiders set forth in that game while introducing new characters, environments and gameplay to players who buy their ticket to the stars.

I’ve been bonked on the noggin with a review code, so I’m going to be off-planet for a bit. Back with some impressions shortly. Oh, by the way: MARS: War Logs is on SALE on Steam for 75% off. Check it out if your curiosity is piqued. It’s got a few rough edges, but makes for a pretty decent diversion that makes The Technomancer all the more intriguing as a prequel. If the new game is even better, will Spiders go forward or back in the timeline they’ve created? That’s a question for sales figures to partially answer, I’d bet.

STYX: Master of Shadows Launch Trailer: Time to get Sneaky, Sneaky With the Ugly Shorty…


 
Okay, he’s kind of cute in that way ugly little goblins can be cute under the right light and without too much alcohol in one’s belly (never get drink around a goblin!), but yes, STYX: Master of Shadows is out tomorrow on Steam and for the PS4 and Xbox One. I’m hoping his one does well, as Cyanide Studios has put a lot of work into this game and it looks like their most polished title to date. We’ll see what the scores say, although I’m betting some reviewers “get” this game and what it’s trying to do while others don’t. I almost wish this was on the older consoles just so more people would show interest in what’s here, but hey – you can’t push those new systems as much of you drop four versions of the same game on the first day. That and the more developers who get used to the new hardware and can craft games that show off what they can do, the better for sales of those systems. Allegedly. Anyway, this one seems worth a closer look, folks…

Crimes & Punishments (Sherlock Holmes) Launch Trailer: Elementary? Not So Fast, You Armchair Sleuths…


 
Oh, the rather droll and humorous closing exchange between Holmes and Watson is probably worth buying the game outright, but I think Focus Home Interactive and developer Frogwares want players to get more than just a moderate chuckle when the snap up this latest Sherlock Holmes game. It’s out on September 30 for PS3/PS4, Xbox 360/Xbox One and PC and looks like it’s going to be a pretty solid game. I’m actually behind in the series, but I may grab this one and work backwards just because it’s not really a franchise where you need to dive into each game in a particular order at all. You just have to love the man and his work. Still, I wonder what’s for dessert on that menu and whether or not the detecting duo actually attend that soiree they’ve been kindly invited to? A good mystery always deserves better clues, I suppose…

Crimes and Punishments (Sherlock Holmes) Update: A Little Macho Disguise & Some Arm Wrasslin’ Get Our Man A Clue…


 
Okay, Focus Home Interactive and Frogwares, you’ve got me now. I just HAVE to play Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes now just because of those goofy disguises the dashing detective can don in the game in order to help in his decidedly deducting ways. This trailer made me laugh for a few reasons, but not AT the game at all. I just like how the series has evolved from its stuffier Victorian era settings to a more modern (but not too modern) set of scenarios that looks as if it will have a wider appeal among a few types of more adventuresome gamers willing to take a chance on something new. Hmmm… I wonder if Holmes can deduct the cos of his disguises from his taxes? Or is that even allowed in foggy Londinium? Ah, the mystery… the mystery…

Crimes & Punishments: Sherlock Holmes is out on September 30, 2014 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC.

STYX: Master of Shadows Summer Trailer: Sneaking Up Soon, Wanting To Steal Your Wallet…

Styx and StonesCyanide Studios’ upcoming stealth/action game, STYX: Master of Shadows is looking pretty slick and I’d bet that one doesn’t need to have played the developer’s previous game Of Orcs & Men in order to hop into Styx’s boots and feel right at home. It’s too bad this one’s only for “next-gen” consoles and PC, as I know more people would have the chance to play it if it were kicking it “old school” on the PS3 and Xbox 360. But hey, that’s one way to get people to finally make the move, I suppose.

In any event, this certainly looks like Cyanide’s best work to date and I hope even the most jaded gamer out there gives this one some respect, as it’s too easy to fall into the “I never heard of it before, so it must be crap” trap I see scribbled about games all over the internet. Yuck. Styx needs to get stabby-stabby on those folks, I say. We’ll see what happens in November when the little guy sneaks into store shelves or a download queue near you…