Is there anything cooler in than a whacking great Monster Truck smashing lesser vehicles, doing stunts and just all round looking awesome? Monster Truck Championship manages to get most of this feel across to the player, though it’s not without its quirks.
First things first; controlling our behemoth truck is a little more complicated than the average racer. I’m not familiar with how the real world trucks handle (though if anyone has one I can try I’d not say no…) but here both front and rear wheels can be controlled separately. While simpler corners won’t cause too much trouble, sharp bends – or some of the stunts – are best navigated with both sticks, manipulating both sets of wheels at once. It can take a little getting used to but once I got my head around it I found drifting my truck around corners not only easy but awesomely fun to do. Outside of this dual control set up things are fairly standard though. No matter the truck used it’s just plain fun to handle – the way it should be.
Of course, a fun handling system is nowt if there’s nothing to back it up. MTC features a full career mode across a variety of locales in the US, with 3 Championships featuring multiple events comprised of several stages. These can range from a simple traditional race to the finish to Drag races – except these tracks twists and turns, and have obstacles to avoid too. These are short and snappy affairs, usually only lasting around 20 seconds but are played out tournament style so we need to win a handful of drags to top the table. A good RPM is essential to start off well but equally important is utilising the control set up well to glide around the halfway point before racing to the finish.
There are also Stunt arenas to compete in, smashing anything and everything in the way while also attempting long jumps, flips, donuts and a multitude of other tricks. Again, it’s great fun driving the beasts around these arenas, popping wheelies and bicycles (when the truck is perched up diagonally on two wheels) and destroying caravans, port-a-loos and disused cars.
The leniency of the scoring system is perhaps a little too kind though; a combo meter lets us rack up points, but even getting our truck into an otherwise unrecoverable position doesn’t ruin the multiplier. As long as we don’t hit the re-spawn button we can simply wait out the combo counter to register our tricks. Wiggling the sticks ands revving the engine might even give some extra combos while in this state too. One example saw me wedged in a corner of the arena for most of the round. I kept on the gas and changing my wheel alignment and by the end I’d beaten the AI score of 200,000 easily – a whopping 880,000, all from acting like a turtle stuck on their back. At least I was able to progress, though the victory was cheapened somewhat. If anything trying to win ‘properly’ was too awkward and I’d often inadvertently end up turtling it again.
Cash prizes are awarded to those that finish higher up the leader board, as well as new sponsorship opportunities and vehicle parts. Sponsors offer extra perks for clearing tasks, while we can staff up with mechanics, engineers and managers that return better stats in exchange for a salary. If it floats your boat then you can adjust all manner of engine and chassis parts, as well as things like suspensions, gear ratios etc. I stuck with the defaults by and large that served me well, but those of you that are more gear-headed will find plenty to get stuck into.
The performance can let the side down a little at times. Playing on a launch era One the visuals are quite low resolution and muddy, while when there are more than a couple of cars (races feature 8 trucks) on screen the framerate drops noticeably. I suspect these issues would be alleviated on an One X (or indeed the upcoming Series) but the aging machine is showing it’s limits more and more now. Under the smear the visuals appear to be nicely detailed though, with panels breaking and falling off during races, and the destruction in the stunt arenas is satisfying.
While it might not be quite the same as the real thing Monster Truck Championship does a pretty good job of replicating the fun. There’s plenty to keep players coming back in the career mode, with loads of challenges to try, and parts and upgrades to unlock. The stunt modes can feel a little too easy to cheese a way to victory but the standard and drag races more than make up for any disappointment here. And plus, who doesn’t love Monster Trucks?
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.