Game Review - by James Allen
One of the staples (other than the grand spectacle which is professional wreslting) on The National Network (formerly The Nashville Network, but apparently they don't want to be associated with country music, while still showing pro rodeo and Miami Vice) is monster truck rallies. Although I can never say I've watched one of the contests, I can attest to having a plastic Bigfoot replica as a child, so I guess that qualifies me to review Monster Truck Rumble, the latest offering from ValuSoft. Will Monster Truck Rumble fulfill the budget title standard set by Serious Sam, or fulfill the budget title standard set by almost every other game?
Imagine the least amount of features that you can put into a racing game, subtract another three or four, and you have the amazingly inept offerings found in Monster Truck Rumble. There are four modes of gameplay: free run, circuit race (checkpoints), wreck n crush (run into a set number of cars), and lane race (track). Supplementing these are six whole monster trucks (which are the same thing with different paintjobs), four whole tracks for circuit races and wrecks, and two (TWO) whole tracks for lane races. You'll run through all of these in about five to ten minutes. The only multiplayer is split screen (no Internet), you can't set up the car, there are no difficulty settings, there is no career mode, the list goes on and on. The features in Monster Truck Rumble completely reek.
In true consistent spirit, the sound also stinks. Just to give you an idea of the ineptitude of the sound, there is one annoying, looping, repetitive sound for wrecking, whether it be into the ground, another truck, cars, or a cactus. The engine sounds are also terrible. The theme music is annoying. Just turn off the speakers. Please. Now.
In the tradition of 4x4 Evolution, gravity seems to be lowered by a significant amount in Monster Truck Rumble. This makes the driving model very unrealistic, and this, coupled with the incorrectly damped suspension system, which likes to rock after any uneven terrain. The AI is also very dumb, continually running into each other, hills, obstacles, and flaunting other examples of incompetence. For example, the lane races basically consist of avoiding the randomly placed obstacles in the road, a skill that the AI has yet to master. Running over cars, which would seem like a very cool feature, is totally reduced to the deepest depths of Hell in Monster Truck Rumble. The cars act as weightless playing cards, flying through the air, with paper-thin design and no damage to see. And the box features a school bus, which is strangely missing from the game. As if the features and sound weren't insulting enough, the futility of the driving model, which seems only to emulate monster trucks in their modeling and not in their physics, seals the deal. A dreadful, dreadful deal.
The lone bright spot (if there can be one) are the slightly passable graphics. The trucks themselves are pretty detailed, I have to say. The environments, however, are lifeless. They all look exactly the same, with the same bland coloring. The weather effects are satisfactory as well. The skies during sunset are surprisingly beautiful. The ground also tells the tales of passing trucks with dynamic treads. And the trucks actually do show damage, which is also another good feature of the graphics. So, they'll do, but they are certainly dragged to the ground by the rest of the components of Monster Truck Rumble. That's too bad.
There is a reason why this review is so short: there simply isn't enough to write about. Monster Truck Rumble has the worst features, sound, and gameplay I have seen in quite a long time. There is absolutely no redeeming factor I can find to recommend this game to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Even fans of monster trucks (you know who you are) will find nothing to like here. There are much better titles with much better features, gameplay, graphics, and sound (like 1nsane, for instance). I'm all for budget titles, but I'm all for GOOD budget titles. This game should be kept at least 300 yards away from any computer, because inserting the CD in any drive could result in vomiting and death.