Reviewed: June 30, 2002
Reviewed by: Mat Houghton
Yeeeeehaw! C'mon Coy we's a goin' Monster Truckin'. Goin be smashin', bashin', and all out deeestruction. Now git up here and let's skeedaddle cuz we's goin round the world.
Anyway, that's Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction in a nutshell. Pick from one of 26 monster trucks and get to wrecking. Unfortunately the game isn't quite as much fun as that first paragraph implies. It ends up being a lot like the instructions on a bottle of shampoo. Fight. Pick up power-ups. Repeat as necessary.
Here are some highlights:
At first blush the controls are pretty good. The trucks are responsive and fairly nimble for such lumbering looking contraptions. It's basically the same as anything in a racing game though, so really how can you screw it up. What's disappointing is despite that there are three different options for season play and an abundance of mini-games it all comes down to the same thing: it's a death match. You survive long enough to either destroy the other trucks or long enough to qualify for the next round by getting points or gathering icons. There are a couple of race options, but the truck has a tendency to spin out rather than just turn corners, so it gets more frustrating than anything.
You do have quite a few options to liven things up though. There are a total of 62 vehicles available in the game, 36 of which can only be unlocked through season play. The detractor is that 26 of those are just champion versions of the 26 trucks originally available, so they just slap a plate on the front, a flag on the back and paint the struts gold and call it a different truck. Admittedly it does have better starting stats, but it's basically the same thing.
A season lasts eight matches, and all the expected features are here; damage meters for all your different parts, as well as the ability to upgrade them with your winnings. The really nice thing is that if you happen to get destroyed after qualifying you still go on. Just hope you have enough cash on hand to repair all the damage.
Basically, if you really, really like Twisted Metal style games, and don't mind a lack of individuality in the trucks (there's nothing to distinguish them except the paint jobs and stats, no special attacks, no theme music, etc.) then you'll be satisfied, but probably not overly gratified.
The one thing that this game has is some fantastic environments. Some rooms end up looking just like a big warehouse despite the fact that it's a Vegas casino, or the concession area of a hockey rink, but for the most part there is a good variety of environments that each have their own little nicities.
You go to Rome and duke it out in the Colleseum then break off to a hall full of columns and giant statuary (all destructable of course). They did a great job of getting the feel of the environments from Hollywood (the main room has a hovering camera that watches everything and a side arena with Jurassic Park - please don't sue, please don't sue - overtones) to Rome and a Jungle Temple complete with treasure hoard and a giant statue head carved into one wall with red glowing eyes.
The trucks are also faithfully brought over, at least so I'd assume. They don't look bad, and the physics on them is descent. Overall perhaps a little grainy, but no complaints really.
Music? Don't even bother. Put some Metallica or Rob Zombie in the CD player and mute the TV, you'll be much happier. The sound effects are hardly more noteworthy. Engines go "Vroom...Vroom" and that's about it.
There's enough game here to give upwards of 40 hours of play, it just depends on how bloody-minded you are about it, and how much you'd really like to unlock all the trucks. It's not a bad game for the occasional bout of mindless simple destruction, and for that things are slightly addictive. If you have absolutely nothing else to do, and I mean nothing, then pop it in as much as you want.
If you like monster trucks and Twisted Metal, and I mean really like, not just took out for a night, teased it for a while, then put it back in the case unfinished. I mean like like you called the next day, then you'll probably enjoy this. Otherwise you'd probably be better served by actually going to a monster truck rally, that is if you don't mind the sticky seats and beer down your back.