Gentlemen, Stop Your Engines

Monster Jam
Reviewed On
PlayStation 2
Available For

Monster Truck events are very enjoyable. There’s just something entertaining about watching a vehicle the size of a house run over a tiny Volkswagen. As the sport has grown in popularity, gathering a devoted cult audience, the demand for a good Monster Truck video game has increased. Hoping to appease this audience, developer Inland productions, along with publisher Ubi Soft, have released Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction. Unfortunately, the game’s many problems prevent it from being anything above mediocre.

Monster Jam’s main mode is Season Mode. Inside Season Mode, you’ll have to pick one of three game modes (Death Match, Cash Grab, and Points) to carry out an entire season in. When you’re done with that, you’ll then have to pick one of 26 licensed monster trucks. Carrying out an entire season isn’t very enjoyable though, as the three game modes are very run of the mill and boring.

The game’s first mode, Death Match, is quite dull thanks to a lack of weapons and monster trucks to duo with. The enemies are very dumb too, so any chance at skillful combat is lost. The only basic strategy that all the trucks have is that when you run at them, they’ll circle around you. When you try to catch up with your enemy the game then turns into an endless game of follow-the-leader. Since you can never catch up with your adversary, it’s not a winnable, nor an enjoyable game.

Possibly the most annoying thing about the Death Match mode though, is how unbalanced the difficulty level is. On the "Easy" difficulty setting, the game is a cakewalk, but at the "Normal" and "Hard" difficulty settings, the game is impossible. Instead of smarter opposing drivers, the damage amounts just turn ridiculous. A mere fender-bender could take away half of your health meter, and even harder hits can take away all of it, making the game near impossible to beat.

Cash Grab isn’t that great either, as the mode has you doing nothing more than collecting icons about the levels. Not only is the concept rather bland, but so is the gameplay. It just doesn’t take that long for collecting items to get old. The mode suffers from the same problems that Death Match does, all though they’re not as bad since there is less of an emphasis on combat. The big flaw this mode suffers from, is that in order to get most of this icons you have to go into new areas, but since none of your enemies go into those areas, the mode is always super easy.

The most pitiful premise of the three though has to be Points. The main objective in the mode, has you doing nothing more than grabbing points by ramming other cars and destroying the environments. Needless to say, the play style quickly gets repetitive. Better yet, since you have to wreck cars and collect money icons, you get to deal with all the flaws from Cash Grab and Death Match as well.

Many times in car-combat games, the multiplayer makes up for the bad Season mode. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Monster Jam. The multiplayer mode in Monster Jam is basically a two-player version of all three season modes. Since the Season modes are so monotonous though, even the fact that you’re playing against another gamer doesn’t make the modes enjoyable.

The last mode that the game features is Mini Games. Sadly, like the rest of Monster Jam, the mini games aren’t very well done. The first problem that plagues the mode is that all the mini games are basically variations on no-weapon Death Match, and normal racing. The no-weapon Death Match variations are pretty dull, the lack of weapons and dumb areas you drive around in contributing to that. The races aren’t very great either, since once you fall behind it’s nearly impossible to get back up in first place again.

The game’s levels are nothing to write home about either. Sure, there are a few levels that feature some cool areas, but the majority of them are riddled with design flaws. One main problem the levels suffer from is that they are all too similar. In each one you start off in one small area, then break through four or five walls to get to other areas. Much to the dismay of the player however, some of those breakable walls are really hard to recognize. Another big problem is that the levels suffer from is how flat they are. Good car-combat games make you use terrain to your advantage, by having you drive around on hills, ramps, and the like. Instead of opting for this, Monster Jam has you instead playing on mostly flat surfaces, thus taking away a level of enjoyment that other car-combat games enjoy.

Not aiding the levels in anyway are the graphics. While there are a few good graphical touches here and there, for the most part the graphics are pretty mediocre. Car wrecking animations are all too similar, and repetitious terrain just adds to the graphical problem list. Possibly the worst thing graphics wise though, is how the frame rate slows down so much during multiplayer matches.

Bringing up the rear to this craptacular game is the audio. The music, consisting of nothing more than guitar tidbits, is easily forgettable. The sound effects don’t fare much better as many things that should have a sound effect don’t, and the few that do aren’t very good anyway.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, Monster Truck: Maximum Destruction is not that great a game. There are moments while you are playing it where you will be enjoying yourself, but those moments are made few due to the game’s many flaws. You wouldn’t think it was possible, but Inland studios somehow found a way to make a boring game out of the most destructive trucks in the world. If you are thinking about buying or renting this game don’t. Leave this one on the shelf with all the other Twisted Metal wannabes, otherwise you’re in for one big disappointment.

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