Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows (Reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Publisher: THQ Nordic
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“Monster Jam Steel Titans” puts you behind the wheels of the top trucks in the Monster Jam circuit and allows you to race and explore nearly a dozen real-life stadiums and tracks.
“Monster Jam Steel Titans” is a racing simulation game that is officially licensed by Monster Jam features trucks such as Grave Digger and El Toro Loco and allows you to compete in various events such as stunt challenges, timed destruction runs, circuit races and freestyle to name a few.
Taking a step forward into the RPG-lite realm, the game allows you to create your own monster truck and build it to your specifications and visual liking by competing in challenges and races in order to upgrade your vehicle. You can train at Monster Jam University, which is an expanded training mode that provides you with tips and tutorials as well as the opportunity to test out and tweak your trucks.
In order to progress up the ranks of the Monster Jam circuit you have to earn points in the various forms of races and challenges provided. There were about six different game modes out of the gate and I was quite a bit confused as to what each mode was. Not being a die-hard Monster Jam fan, having a game mode titled “Rhythm” with absolutely no description of what to expect was somewhat irritating. Trying out “Rhythm” racing I soon came to realize that this was basically straight track racing with speed bumps. Upon trying out the other game modes with some having a self-explanatory explanation while others not so much, I started up the Career Mode which basically has you progress through the various modes to win races, earn money, upgrade your monster truck and rise up the ranks.
Even with the variety of game modes in Career Mode, I found it quite repetitive and frustrating at times especially on the higher difficulty levels. In order to gain ranks you have to play a circuit of each of the various modes so this means 5 or six of the same exact races in a row with you needing to place 3rd or higher each race and rank in the top three points overall at the end of the circuit. Something like “Rhythm” was fun with a single serving but doing it six times in a row with a bigger section of the track unlocked each time was a bore. If you would happen to rank out of the top three positions you are rewarded with having to repeat the entire circuit over again.
The graphics on “Monster Jam Steel Titans” were hit-and-miss at times. The trucks look great and there are a ton of skins and modifications to unlock during gameplay but the surrounding worlds aren’t as detailed and the game suffers from clipping at times. Hopefully this will be addressed in a future patch or update.
I found the game physics to be fun and over-the-top even if wonky at times. Monster truck controls were fairly easy to use and once you got a basic understanding of the trick system and gameplay you’re able to perform tricks and stunts like you were playing “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater”. Some of the stunt competitions were a little difficult to master and occasionally required multiple tries but this only helped you learn what to do and what not to do in certain tracks.
One of the more fun aspects of the game was the free roam world. There are 50 collectibles for the OCD in all of us and you can try out different stunts and techniques with no fear of penalty. This mode would have been even greater had there been some kind of story mode or quests to partake in such as escort missions, off-road races or Borderlands style craziness of some sort.
Outside of continuous racing to advance and unlock things, that’s the gist of what “Monster Jam Steel Titans” has to offer. Fans of the Monster Jam circuit will most likely find this game enjoyable in a family setting with the young’uns but if you’re looking for a more down to earth racing sim or an in-depth Madden-style career mode then you’re best looking elsewhere. “Monster Jam Steel Titans” wants to showcase its stable of cool and unique gameplay be damned. For a property that revels in the over-the-top and ridiculous, this game could have dove into that aspect but instead settled upon the norm.
Bottom Line: A fun racing game for fans of Monster Jam trucks but one that wears thin due to its repetitive and often monotonous gameplay. Instead of embracing the craziness and delivering a monster truck racing game in the vein of “Trails”, “Monster Jam Steel Titans” feels more like a watered down attempt at monster truck “Forza”.