Friday, 30 August 2019

Monster Jam: Steel Titans ★★★☆☆

Here in England, we don’t have a particularly strong relationship with monster trucks. It’s hard to understand the excitement – it all feels very American, doesn’t it? Not content with normal trucks, over in the good ol’ US of A, they just had to make them fucking massive. Of course, they did. This new type of truck birthed Monster Jam, a USA-based live event tour. Beginning in 1992, just 10 years later released their first licensed video game, Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction. 17 years later, we’re still getting these games – and they really don’t seem to have come very far in that time.

This latest iteration, Monster Jam: Steel Titans, takes the idea of monster truck mayhem and pushes it to ridiculous levels with new maps, challenges, models and madness. It’s all preposterously over the top and really acts as a soft reboot, introducing new players to this franchise and hopefully persuading them that driving around in a massive truck smashing crates to bits is a good way to spend their time. Starting off at the central hub of Monster Jam University, you will learn the basics of controlling your truck and how to play the various game modes. Then, you’re thrown behind the wheel and let loose into a world of monster truck madness.

I would strongly advise you pay close attention to the tutorials because the controls are a little unusual and the handling is difficult if you’re new to the franchise, which I expect you are because you have taste and have never wasted your time on a Monster Jam game before. These difficult controls are only exaggerated by the game’s preposterous physics engine which makes the vehicles very unpredictable and near impossible to control at times. 

Graphically, Monster Jam: Steel Titans isn’t the prettiest looking game on the market. While nobody expected a monster truck game to be a visual feast, I did expect more from this 2019 release. The vehicle design is by no means awful – understandably, this is where the developers have focused their attention. But just as noticeable as how much effort they’ve put into the vehicles is how little effort they’ve put into everything else. The environments do not feel remotely alive or detailed, with blocky textures and severe draw distance issues that make for a very jarring experience.

There’s certainly a lot to do, at least – plentiful game modes including standard races, free roam, stunt modes and destruction means that if you’re a fan of monster truck mayhem you’ll probably not get bored in a hurry. There’s plenty of fun to be had behind the wheel of your truck if you’re into that kind of thing. Replayability is encouraged with numerous unlockable skins and vehicle parts that will make your truck a force to be reckoned with.

On the whole, Monster Jam: Steel Titans deliver plenty of opportunity for fun and monster truck madness but the game is nowhere near polished enough for a 2019 release. The game’s visuals leave a hell of a lot to be desired and the tedious controls and physics make for a frustrating gameplay style that is very difficult to master. But if you’re into the Monster Jam games, you’ll probably find a hell of a lot to like here.

Sam Love

Monster Jam: Steel Titans at CeX

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