Friday, January 29, 2010

Video game number nineteen: Monster Jam

Game review number nineteen in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "Monster Jam".

There's one great thing about this game: When you boot it up, you are inspired to talk like one of those Monster Truck announcer guys. I lowered my voice a few octaves and yelled out "MONSTER JAM!" and "GRAVE DIGGER!" until Heather came into the office to ask me what the hell I was doing. I told her I was playing a monster truck game...and that was pretty much all she needed to hear.

I grabbed this game because...well, why not. It was in the software library at work and I was picking out random titles to try. It's a racing game, featuring world famous monster trucks like "Grave Digger" and...well...."Grave Digger". Seriously, that's the only famous truck in this game that I recognize so far. I didn't see "Bigfoot" or "Truckzilla", or any of the other names I might have remembered from those commercials when I was a kid. "Grave Digger" is there though, so I picked that one and started up a race.

The controls feel natural. You start off in an off-road race against five other trucks, and it was just like playing every other racing game I've ever played. Right trigger is gas. Left is brake. The "A" button boosts the car. The "Y" button changes your view. I won my first race, my second...and when I won my third in a row, an achievement popped up. Nice.

It was pretty easy to win the races, smashing my way through obstacles, other cars and terrain. It seems that your truck can take endless damage (on one track, I drove it with only three wheels left). There are tons of things to smash, and you get "combos" for smashing lots of them in a row. There are several different roads you can take in each race, and shortcuts you can find by boosting into a jump. For people who want to get serious about their Monster Truck racing....there's lots of depth here.

There are off-road races, elimination rounds where the last place car is dropped from the race....and then there are these Stadium matches, where you do "real" monster truck crush cars and take your truck off sweet jumps. These are a little more difficult than the races...and I actually had to restart one of them a few times before I won it.

I finished the first championship, popped several achievements...and called it good. This game is fun, but I've literally got a dozen racing games sitting on my game shelf at home that I like better. The Forza games, the Burnout games, the Project Gotham Racing games, the Dirt games, Need for Speed...and even Full Auto are all probably better games than this. It's not a bad's just "average".

Overall rating: 6 out of 10. The extra point taking it above "average" is because it made me yell "GRAVE DIGGER!"

Here are all the achievements I got in an hour or two of playtime:

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