Review – Monster Truck Championship

Monster Truck Championship is the third monster truck-themed game released ever since GameMill cursed us with their take on the Monster Jam franchise way back in 2016. What could (and should) have been great news for fans of this very specific niche of gaming isn’t as exciting as expected for one sole reason. Back in mid 2019, THQ and Rainbow Studios shocked me with the release of Monster Jam Steel Titans. A game that not only would please fans of the subject matter, but also any racing game enthusiast in general. It had decent controls, good graphics, and most importantly, an open world map full of secrets to unveil. Monster Truck Championship is being released under the shadow of a behemoth, but does it have what it takes to be an Adam to THQ’s Goliath?

Monster Truck Championship

This red, white and blue truck of mine just oozes freedom.

When reviewing a game, I do my best at trying to analyze it by its own merits and faults. However, in the case of Monster Truck Championship, it’s nearly impossible not to compare it to Monster Jam Steel Titans in every single aspect. Both games are targeting the same demographic, offering similar controls, customization options, gameplay loop, and so on. They are FIFA and PES, NBA Live and NBA 2K. The difference is that each of these direct competitors usually have something in their favor when compared to their direct competitor. When it comes to Monster Truck Championship, on the other hand, I legitimately cannot find a single thing in it that makes it more appealing than Monster Jam.

Visually, Monster Truck Championship is somewhat of a mixed bag. The trucks themselves, the most important asset in a game like this, are well-modeled. You have the ability to customize them in various ways, both cosmetically and mechanically. The game also features some impressive dirt and lighting effects… but that’s it. The UI looks cheap (and it features a very annoying tutorial voice going full Navi on you), the resolution is far from ideal, and sadly the framerate is terrible. Whenever there are more than three trucks onscreen, the framerate goes down the toilet.

Monster Truck Championship

Slam that junk.

The bigger problem lies on the gameplay. While the overall controls are basically the same between both games, using both analog sticks to control each individual axle of your truck, Monster Truck Championship feels a lot clunkier when it comes to performing tricks. It’s almost like you have little control over what your truck does when inside a destruction arena. Any sharp turn will make your truck flip over and it’s not that easy to spin it back to normal. Racing through normal circuits feels less egregious, thankfully.

Monster Truck Championship‘s career mode is comprised of simple events comprised of a few different races and/or trick events each. You pay an upfront fee to partake in this event, then get a lump sum if you finish ahead of everyone else. You’ll get some extra cash thrown into the mix if you complete some extra objectives set by the sponsors. The more races you complete, the more money you acquire, and the more parts and crew members you unlock. That’s basically all there is to this game’s career mode. There’s no exclusive mode to make it stand out. No Monster Jam University or sandbox mode where you’re free to wreak havoc and test your skills by collecting items located in hard-to-reach spots.

Monster Truck Championship

There are seven trucks onscreen. That means that the game is also running at around seven frames per second.

I don’t think I would have considered Monster Truck Championship such a disappointment if it wasn’t for the fact that Monster Jam Steel Titans exists. That game is simply superior in every single aspect, be it in terms of visuals, sound, controls, and overall content. Monster Truck Championship would have been a recommended title for monster truck enthusiasts if it wasn’t for the existence of its much superior main competitor. As it stands, though, I see no reason to pick this one over the other.

 

Graphics: 6.0

Beautifully rendered trucks and some interesting dirt and lighting effects are hindered by a terrible framerate, especially whenever there are many competitors onscreen.

Gameplay: 6.5

Driving the truck is not very difficult and drifting feels nice. Performing tricks, on the other hand, feels super clunky, as if you have no control whatsoever over your truck.

Sound: 5.0

Underwhelming voice acting coming from the event announcer and the lady who acts as your tutorial guide. The soundtrack is passable, but it’s not featured during races. All you’re going to hear is engine noises and some very impactful crashes.

Fun Factor: 5.5

Monster Truck Championship isn’t as varied as its main competitor. The amount of tracks and events featured in here is disappointing, even if its customization mode is impressive. It’s alright as a game, but it’s massively overshadowed by a much better title.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Monster Truck Championship is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox One.

A copy of Monster Truck Championship was provided by the publisher.