Monster Jam

  • Publisher: Activision
  • Developer: Torus Games

From the makers of Dracula Marmalade! Sadly this isn't a game about turning creatures of the night into fruity preserves, but yet another attempt to translate the adolescent allure of trucks with enormous wheels into something worth playing on a console.

It fails.

Apparently based on what passes for a sporting event in America, you must take part in a series of leagues, competing in outdoors races and arena showcases in order to earn the required points to take home a shiny gold-plated Budweiser baseball cap. Or something equally inbred.

In theory, it should be an absolute hoot. All the thrills of a destruction derby, beefed up with the power of mechanical testosterone! These trucks were made for smashing, and that's just what they'll do. But one of these days these trucks are gonna rise up and crush the fragile human bones of the slippery-fingered fool that programmed their handling.

Yes, the trucks handle like remote-controlled cars on a soapy kitchen floor. The slightest twitch on the stick is almost enough to turn the truck through ninety degrees, and there's absolutely no sense of weight behind their manoeuvres. Seeing these supposedly vast powerful machines fidget and jerk past each other would be hilarious, if it weren't so pathetic.

4
Oh look, I've gone upside down again. FOR NO REASON.

Making matters worse is a bewildering physics model that makes almost any collision potentially disastrous. You can plough through giant iron water towers and trailers loaded with tree trunks and suffer absolutely no negative effect to your speed or direction whatsoever, but then you can hit an invisible acorn buried under a leaf and be flung twenty feet in the air, facing the opposite way when you land. This would be enough to lose many a race, if your opponents weren't simple-minded idiot drones. Provided you can escape the scrum at the start of the race without becoming hopelessly snagged on another vehicle, you can easily cruise through the laps without ever using your boost and still not see another truck.

And if the outdoor levels are bad, the arena sections are worse. Divided between short one-on-one races and freestyle smashing events, the twitchy controls become even more of an issue in this enclosed space. The races, which generally last less than a minute, simply become a question of memorising the twists and turns of the route and repeating it until you win. The freestyle simply involves driving around and around, hitting the same obstacles in different combinations, trying to keep your score multiplier from dropping.

Monster Jam is a terrible racing game, and a laughable attempt at recreating the hefty impact of monster trucks to boot. With zero challenge and aggravating control, I don't think MotorStorm 2 has much to worry about.

4/10

About the author

Dan Whitehead

Dan Whitehead

Senior Contributor, Eurogamer.net

Dan has been writing for Eurogamer since 2006 and specialises in RPGs, shooters and games for children. His bestest game ever is Julian Gollop's Chaos.

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