Review – Monster Jam Steel Titans

Growing up in South America, I didn’t have a lot of contact with monster truck racing besides occasional clips being shown on TV. Or later, spamming those huge trucks whenever I was playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a teenager. When I was invited to check Monster Jam Steel Titans out at E3 2019, I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew about Monster Jam is that there was this abysmal game published by Game Mill a few years ago. I didn’t know if I was looking at a sequel, a reboot, or something that had absolutely nothing to do with that 2017 abomination. Turns out that yes, it was a completely different game that had nothing to do with that title, and thankfully enough, a promising title at that. I was even more pleased to know that the game would come out just a few weeks after E3. This is Monster Jam Steel Titans and it’s definitely not the bad time I feared it would be.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans_20190702200855

I have no idea of what’s going on in this picture. Just accept how abstract this image is.

Monster Jam Steel Titans has nothing to do with that terrible game developed by Maximum Games. It was instead developed by the same people behind the dozens of MX vs. ATV games released over the past decade. They are people who know their stuff when it comes to off-road racers and it’s noticeable in their work here.

You start off with a simple unsponsored truck in a tutorial area called “Monster Jam University”. After completing a few tutorial lessons, you can freely explore the place and even look for some collectibles hidden throughout the map. I don’t understand the point of having an open world in a game featuring mammoth-sized trucks, but hey, if there’s a well-designed map full of stunt opportunities and hidden collectibles to tickle my completionist OCD, I’m fine with it. The open world mode was my favorite feature in Monster Jam Steel Titans, especially because the map keeps on growing the more championships you complete.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans_20190702194435

I crashed on a nearby tree three seconds after I took this screenshot.

The career mode is the game’s bread and butter. In theory, it’s your standard fare of competing in a series of races, earning points, and cash to increase your overall ranking and improve your car’s engine, respectively. I just didn’t expect for each season to be as long as it ended up being. The first tournament alone had ten races, when I was expecting for it to have maybe four or five. The types of races featured in Monster Jam Steel Titans include your typical circuit track, time attack against one single opponent, and waypoint races. It also has events based around racking up points, such as freestyle, two-wheel skill,s and timed destructions; the latter being the most enjoyable of them as all you need to do is destroy everything in sight and rack up your combo meter.

There’s a lot to do in here. The career mode is surprisingly lengthy and the open world is extensive enough to make you want to explore every corner of it in search of those damn collectibles. Everything is backed by the game’s surprisingly decent controls. Driving those gigantic hunks of junk isn’t complicated at all, although you’ll need to get used to the fact that you can’t drift or brake properly in here. It’s also remarkably easy to pull off some cool tricks, such as wheelies and front flips.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans_20190702201018

Look at me, destroying chemical toilets like it’s no biggie.

That doesn’t mean that this game is perfect. Far from it. Monster Jam Steel Titans certainly has its fair share of flaws. The most noticeable is the framerate. It doesn’t even try to achieve 60fps. It barely reaches 30, but once more trucks show up onscreen, the damn thing slows down to an annoying degree. The only reason why this didn’t infuriate me too much in comparison to other racing games, is that those monster trucks aren’t exactly meant to be fast machines, so the occasional slowdowns didn’t ruin the game’s sensation of speed that much. Things are a lot more reasonable on head-to-head races and the open world map. You will also notice a lot of pop-ins wherever you go, especially when it comes to bushes being created out of thin air whenever you’re driving around the desert. At the very least, the truck models are well-rendered and the lighting effects are very good.

Monster Jam: Steel Titans_20190703143838

Gotta collect ’em all.

Monster Jam Steel Titans is very flawed, but quite enjoyable. You get exactly what you would expect: trucks, off-road tracks, destruction competitions, and heavy metal. Like a good AA title, it’s a game tailor made for a smaller and more specific core audience. It succeeds at providing them with most certainly the best game featuring monster trucks ever made.

 

Graphics: 7.0

Beautifully rendered trucks, as well as great textures and lighting effects. The game’s visuals are hindered by an excessive amount of pop-ins and an unreliable framerate, however.

Gameplay: 7.5

Controlling those huge chunks of metal is easier than expected and it’s not hard to pull off some wild stunts. The gameplay is hindered by the inconsistent framerate though.

Sound: 7.0

The game’s truly excellent soundtrack is overshadowed by the trucks’ loud engine noises. At least you can listen to the tunes at the menus, I guess…

Fun Factor: 7.5

Even though it’s based on a franchise that would supposedly limit its gameplay scope, Monster Jam Steel Titans is a game packed with a ton of content and a surprisingly lengthy career mode.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Monster Jam Steel Titans is available now on PS4, Xbox One and PC.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Monster Jam Steel Titans was provided by the publisher.

Advertisements