Ask any child what they want to be when they grow up and you’ll be given a list that probably looks like this: Superhero, Astronaut, Princess or Monster Truck Driver. Well, Rainbow Studios have tried to make at least one of these come true with Monster Jam: Steel Titans, which unsurprisingly focuses on Monster Trucks.
Monster Jam: Steel Titans is THQ Nordic’s attempt at making a Trials-like skill game. You are, funnily enough, a monster truck driver tasked with rising up the ranks of leaderboards and championships to become the greatest driver in the country. As with Trials, this comes at quite a challenge. But Monster Jam takes this concept and presents it in glorious 3D.
The core of the gameplay is split between 3 main game modes: Quickplay, which allows players to select any event and test their mettle, Career, which sees the player progressing through increasingly difficult tournament for supremacy and lastly a free roam mode, which allows the player to explore the world and accumulate large combos without the stresses of a time limit or rival racers.
There’s a fairly wide array of events to be chosen from including classics like Waypoint races, Freestyle skills challenges and circuit races. But Rainbow Studios have also introduced some more technical and skill intensive challenges like Two-Wheel Skill challenges or Rhythm races – a race which requires the player to feel the flow of the level and control their speed.
To the games’ credit, there is a large amount of variety in what you can do. The problem I’ve had with these types of games in the past is their lack of things to do – Monster Jam doesn’t go crazy with its creativity but does enough to make the game modes feel distinct and unique, which is very refreshing.
One of the major problems I’ve encountered with this game, however, is its difficulty. In my time with the game, I completed all the tutorial missions and the first two career tournament and faced little to no resistance from my AI opponents. The only time I lost was because I accelerated too fast going around a corner, but other than that I came first in every race and easily beat my opponents by at least 20 seconds. This made the race events incredibly easy to complete, which in turn made them feel worthless and a little boring.
It’s clear that the team at Rainbow Studios put the majority of their focus on the more freestyle, skills element of the game as they’re definitely what shines through. The tutorial does a good job at teaching the player the basics, but it takes a lot more time to truly feel comfortable with the skills system – and this isn’t a bad thing. Mastering the art of driving on two wheels or landing that perfect double front-flip is what kept me coming back for more. And being able to do these on the fly during races or events is on another level of satisfaction.
While the racing aspects aren’t particularly challenging, the style and skill sections made playing Monster Jam an absolute blast. The wide range of variety from its events, to its camera options, makes the game easy to play and learn, but hard to master, which is everything I want from a skill-based racing game.
It’s got me itching for more oil fuelled, destruction mayhem and if you can get past the easy AI, then you’ll enjoy Monster Jam just as much as I did.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*