Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 Review

Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 (MJST2) is a sequel published by THQ Nordic, and developed by Rainbow Studios. The only other Monster Jam title Rainbow studios have developed is the original Steel Titans. The games are more or less identical with a few major key components changed that help increase the enjoyability of the game for all ages.

The gameplay for MJST2 is filled with different race type events where you compete against AI’s and their scores. There are Circuit races, Rally races, Free style Events, Head-to-head events, Crush events, Derby races and free roam. When you start the game, it runs you through tutorials teaching all the game’s controls and mechanics. The physics haven’t improved immensely from its predecessor, but the free roam mode has been improved along with upgrades. There are collectibles and secret cars to unlock in free roam which help buff our trucks up. The secret cars require you to use newer vehicles that may be unlocked with a hint as to what car is needed.

To begin unlocking any new modes or vehicles, the player must progress in the Career mode which is very similar to the first Steel Titans. When starting a new save you begin with only one Truck available and quickly unlock more. The Monster Trucks are also broken up into different groups. The Career mode also unlocks additional maps to explore in free roam mode. Each area is different, and there are five areas to unlock each of them cartoonish in a unique way.

MJST2 is fun for a brief amount of time but can get boring after a while. The total time the game should last the player is around 40 hours, with content to unlock for all the trucks, finding all the hidden collectibles scattered through the maps, and placing in the top 3 of each event. If the player is interested in earning the game’s full completion and all 28 achievements, then they must place first in all career events.

The Career Mode does allow you to choose a difficulty, and I would recommend Normal early on to give more of a challenge – the AI for Easy mode is daftly easy. However, the further you get in the events, the harder they will become in difficulty. The AI is a decent challenger for most of the races, however, checkpoint races, are designed to have some quick turn arounds and the AI can get stuck on other trucks since they are all tracking along the same path bumper to bumper. The player can always change the difficulty before the event begins and the gameplay is relaxing to play. There is a Career+ mode which unlocks after beating the regular career to add to more events to play. There are more events that are in free roam that are unique to the area.

Controlling the Trucks involves steering with your front and back axels using both analogue sticks. The sensitivity for steering is reputable; a steep learning curve, but gratifying to master. The issue is more with the physics than controlling the vehicle. While driving any truck, the player will find that accelerating over small bumps and debris can lead to flipping the truck over. The issue pertains with gravity, the game can often fling your truck if hitting a small bump. There is a chance to spin your truck back on all four tires, but if rolled over the player will need to hold ‘B’ to reset their vehicle back to when you had it on all fours. This feature can come in handy when trying for collectibles in hard-to-reach areas respawning you in front of the jump again. Your truck will also reset after being immobile or stuck for 5 seconds. Each area holds collectibles each involving some exploration to find, and some will require a tricky jump that needs to be landed to hit. The game has an autosave feature much like that of Forza, so no need to stress over keeping the save file up to date.

The biggest changes between the first and second game in the series is that the upgrading of monster trucks has been simplified. To upgrade any vehicle, you just have to play events with it and you will earn experience for your vehicles. Levelling up your preferred truck increases control of the vehicle making events easier to win. The starting stats alter between the vehicles and some examples of things to upgrade are transmission, engine, tires, chasis and suspension. I never had to pick what stat to increase, so just winning in the same truck will improve general control and each truck can level up 25 times. Some of the classes or groups of trucks give special abilities to the player to give variety to the gameplay.

Free style events involve racking up points and combos for high scores. The different free style moves involve performing a jump for some big air, performing front and back flips, stoppies and wheelies, and more. Crashing into items and performing a stunt can increase your combo meter, and the higher the player goes, the higher the multiplier will be. The vehicle boosts and combo meters have been moved to the bottom right of the screen next to the odometer. The boost fills up with drifting and kicking up some dirt. Once the orange meter was filled on the right of the odometer, I earned one boost to use and they are vital to hitting all collectibles in free roam. When looking around in free roam, it was a nuisance to look for collectibles since I couldn’t control which way the camera was looking directly. The camera modes are the same as the first Steel Titan; by pressing select you can switch between First person, side views, follow, or the most common one to use third person perspective which is similar to the follow view but at a slightly different distance from the truck. This was mainly because the analogue sticks are both used to steer the trucks.

The audio is stellar, the music is instrumental songs in different genres like rock, metal, and electronic. Music also changes when entering a new free roam area. The sound effects for the trucks themselves haven’t changed much and sounds empowering revving the engines and performing donuts. Crashing into trees, boxes, debris all have different sounds, so the same sounds won’t be overplayed. The visuals for MJST2 have improved, but still are no where near the level of fidelity that other racing games out on the market might present. That’s okay given how cartoonish this title feels playing. The best visuals for the game are the trucks themselves, they all look crisp and clean with roll cages underneath panels that can fall off. The more damage inflicted to your vehicle the more panels you will lose. Health for your truck is never an issue though, so roll on.              

I encountered nearly zero bugs while playing this game other than some iffy physics with gravity and some dynamic light issues which caused shadows to flicker. This is a fun entry to the Monster Jam series, and I personally would recommend it over the other games in the series.  There is an online mode on top of the single player experience if you’re looking to play with friends in a Freeride, Versus Head-to-head, or a waypoint circuit race in a public or private lobby. I found the online a bit buggy, though perhaps it was just lag causing audio and visual issues. The longevity of MJST2 is definitely lengthened with the online mode and being able to explore in free roam with friends, but the game won’t retain a player for an extended length of time beyond finishing the career mode. The events do become a chore to get through, but the more progress is made, the more enjoyable the title becomes.

Conclusion

There are many trucks to level up and many customization skins to unlock by earning XP with each of the 8 groups of trucks and finding all the collectibles on top of secret vehicles. Overall, this is a fun arcade racer with some issues, but none that are game breaking.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.
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Good
  • Easy controls for driving
  • Cartoonish racing
  • Stellar Soundtrack
  • Online and Free Roam improve longevity
Bad
  • Repetitive modes for Career events
  • Minor visual issues with lighting and shadows
  • Shotty Physics at times
7.5
Good
Gameplay - 8
Graphics - 7
Audio - 8
Longevity - 7
Written by
Hello, my name is Ross, I live in the United States and love playing Xbox games. There’s almost no better feeling than finishing a fun game and unlocking all the achievements provided. My achievement addiction has led me to play a large variety of games and I love to play any open world or sandbox games. I have a soft spot for survival horror games ranging from Alan Wake to Outlast. I wasn’t always on Xbox, I started back in the summer on 2008 with simply Call of Duty 4 and World at War. Before that, I grew up playing Mario and Grand Theft Auto on PlayStation which is a strange, but a welcome combo. I’m currently 24 years young and also attend undergrad school working on earning my BA in Accounting.

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