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The Flare Path: Bog Standards

Simulation and wargame news

The mud on the T19 was always bad, but that Spring it had to be seen to be believed. Bergmann, TransGlobus, Hipponaut... everyone was losing two or three vehicles a week. Even with jug-floats and plutos fitted, you didn't stand a chance. Which is why all of us barons eventually got together and bought The Matriarch. She arrived on three special trains from Port Hendy. Took a week to assemble. Your Uncle Fergus won the driver ballot. It was only because he went down with appendicitis at the last minute, that the second-place man, Canter Spriggs, took the reins. I can still see Canter up there in that cockpit, grinning like a pookaduke. The poor bastard had no idea what he was heading into.

But I'm detouring. You didn't stop by to listen to an old fool yacking about The Great Quag. You want to know about this new demo that all the mud-pluggers are talking about. Well, Spin Tires is the work of a UK studio called Oovee. They started out making add-ons for RailWorks and FSX, and now they're trying something a little bolder - a cross-country trucking sim with sludge so real you'll be digging it out from under your fingernails for weeks.

There's three vehicles included in the trial, but only the industrious will see them all. Cargo crates are scattered about the hilly, heavily forested map. Port enough of them to warehouses and eventually you get to trade-in your Kamaz starter truck for the more rugged and rangy Kraz. Put the work in with the Kraz and the eight-wheeled Stryker is yours.

I've earned my APC, but I'm still a Kraz man at heart. I love the way it growls and belches black smoke as it drags itself up steep trails. The way its pudgy tyres furrow soft sod and its mud flaps flop as you tear about.

The same Havok-powered physics that playfully wobbles aerials and jostles jerrycans can turn nasty in the blink of an eye. Misjudge a bend or slope and you can very easily find yourself jammed between birch trees, seesawing foolishly on a crest, or thoroughly mired. There's a reset button (F1), but as using this means sacrificing cargo and self-respect, chances are you'll rev, and wheel-turn and gear-grind for at least five minutes before admitting defeat.

Thanks to some very intuitive terrain interaction (the way saplings lean and uproot is particularly nice) often the wiggling and the shuttling will pay off in the end. Switching from automatic to manual transmission using the pleasingly tactile on-screen shifter, activates diff-lock - a lifesaver in some situations. At least one crate is impossible to reach without manual gear use.

Hopefully, by the time the as-yet-unspecified release date rolls around, Oovee will have addressed the camera deficiencies (currently there's no cab interiors, and externals views are a tad cramped) implemented some damage modelling, and added a clutch. At present Spin Tires feels like the lovechild of Rigs of Rods and Tricky Truck. That's no bad thing, but with a few extra options - a little more tread on its steaming, mud-clogged tires - it could also qualify as the PC's first serious automotive orienteering sim.


For Your Rubiconsideration

Seven good reasons why you should be excited at the prospect of Alea Jacta Est:

And three good-ish reasons why you might want to temper that excitement:

  • The 2800-region map takes in Asia Minor, and significant tracts of Russia and the Middle East.
  • The Athena engine isn't to everyone's taste (the army management interface can be confusing, some of its minor rules opaque)
  • If you spend all your sestertii on Alea Jact Est you might not have the cash to purchase the Hannibal: Rome and Carthage in the Second Punic Wars sequel that is rumoured to be in production.


The Flare Path Foxer

FP's collections of fire and arms are legendary, but did you know he also collects firearms? He's got eight at present. Every Friday he takes them out, caresses them, then replaces them in their mahogany cabinet using a different ordering scheme. Last week they were arranged according to weight, the week before according to menace. This week he wants to order his bullet-spitters by year of design. Can you help?

Last week's Foxer measured 9.8 on the Stone-You-Insufferable-Swine Scale and even managed to confuse the setter for a spell (Apologies for the unintentional misdirection). Impressively, that didn't stop several glider sliders sleuthing their way to a solution...

...that seemed unbeatable until Horsa forcer extraordinaire Luke managed to find room for an extra glider in Gretel at 13.57 this afternoon.

Fantastic work, Luke! Your FP flair point is solid  gold and stamped with the Glider Pilot Regiment motto:

'Nihil est Impossiblis'

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