Monster trucks, what a wonderful example of human engineering. These massive contraptions will; smash, crush and destroy anything in their path. They are cars on steroids, and they are a lot of machine to handle. It takes a certain mindset to get in one and decide to go as fast as possible, yet this is what the insane drivers of the monster truck racing world do, day in, day out! Monster Truck Championship allows you to take on this role, to live out the fantasy of controlling one of these gargantuan beasts while competing to become the number one driver in the world.
Developed by Teyon and published by Nacon, this racing simulation game asks you to take on the career of a rookie driver. You must start at the bottom and work your way through the ranks. Your powerful yet basic machine will need to be improved vastly before you can challenge for the title. Complete races, earn cash and become sponsored, it’s all in a day’s work for these adrenaline seeking racers.
I’m not obsessed with Monster Trucks, honestly I’m not!
Recently I wrote an article on Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 (MJST2), where I state that I’m not a massive fan of the scene (the review can be read here for comparison). Yet, here I am writing about another truck racing game in little over a week. I’m definitely not becoming obsessed, but I can see what all the fuss is about. Both games play out in a similar fashion, they have; racing, tricks, vehicle damage and progression at the heart of the gameplay. But MJST2 is an open-world experience, like Forza Horizon, whereas Monster Truck Championship follows a more traditional approach. Races are selected from a menu, and there is zero freedom to explore a vast world.
The decision to focus predominately on the racing was a fine choice. The gameplay benefits from the lack of a watered down concept, and the action plays out much quicker because of it. You don’t lose yourself in hours of aimless driving, just to realise that you haven’t progressed in the game at all. Some gamers may find this approach restrictive, but I believe you’ll experience a more in-depth game because of this structured style.
Lots of meat on the bone!
With 3 different leagues to compete in, each with its own level of difficulty. 4 styles of races to try, 4 game modes and plenty of custom options and parts to improve your vehicle, you’ll find that there is plenty of meat on the bone. Let us start with the game modes: Events, Training, Quick play and Online. These are self explanatory, but I’ll expand on them, anyway.
This allows you to compete against friends and global players in any of the 4 standard races. This is all about bragging rights and proving that you are the best around. Lobbies are easy to find and join, and private rooms can be setup if you want to race under certain conditions.
You only have a limited amount of time, but still want your racing fix? This allows you to jump into races quickly with little thought needed to get going. The most shallow element of the game, but it serves its purpose well.
This is where it all begins, learn the fundamentals, understand how to complete tricks, and prepare yourself for anything that these heavy machines can throw at you.
This is the heart and soul of the game, the career mode where you’ll spend most of your time. Here you will compete in different competitions that’ll earn you ranking points. You’ll move through each of the 3 leagues to become the number one global racer. This mode is more than just racing, it’s also about the customisation of your truck, your team and financial backers.
Here you control your staff and sponsors. This element seems irrelevant, yet it plays a pivotal role. Your team will give you performance boosts, increase or decrease cash flow, and improve your chances to win. The sponsors set you challenges that’ll earn you cash and more importantly parts. They add an interesting layer to the gameplay and give you something to focus on rather than racing.
Racing games and custom options, go hand in hand. Monster Truck Championship impresses with a wide range of cosmetics and paint jobs. Many of the options cost you your hard earned prize money, but the investment is worth it when you roll out in a slick machine. The aforementioned parts are also equipped and purchased from this screen. These improve; the handling, speed, braking and durability of your vehicle. Once you enter the toughest leagues, these improvements are a must.
Finally, the Races.
Freestyle, destruction, drag and race. The first 2 are arena based competitions which follow a similar approach. The difference is the latter awards you points for smashing up specific objects. They’re time based events where the largest score determines the victor. Drag is a 1V1 knockout tournament. Launch yourself from the starting line and beat your opponent to the chequered flag. Race is the classic option where a set amount of laps must be completed and the winner takes all.
There’s plenty to do, but how does it perform?
Racing games aren’t just about the content, they must look great and perform brilliantly. So how does it stand up? Let’s see how it looks next to MJST2.
Not bad at all; bright colours, good details, a wide choice of camera angles and the machines look amazing. They both run on par with one another, so you are getting a modern experience, whichever you choose.
Sadly, the audio is the weakest part of Monster Truck Championship and fails to hit the heights of MJST2. You get your standard fare, high-tempo audio that is very much a given these days. You are also treated to an assistant who talks you through the finer points of the game. Her crisp and robotic tones make it very easy to understand how to navigate the menus and what to do. Where this falls down are its inconsistencies with the commentary, and its flat baseless sound effects. The first issue I can live with, but the latter is unforgivable. The gameplay is made to feel lifeless and hollow, and this oversight is truly disappointing.
So much vibration that I may get white finger.
I’m not sure if Teyon were attempting to compensate for their poor audio when they implemented the rumble function, but my hands are still numb (a slight exaggeration). Where the engines should roar and screech, you instead get a wrist shattering rumble. It’s uncomfortable, unnecessary, and distracting. If you put this to one side, the controls are really well thought out and handle much better than MJST2. The twin-stick controls for both axles are responsive and challenging to master. Tricks are tough, but the method to perform them is well explained and can be completed with some practice. If the rumble function was reduced, it would improve the enjoyment factor no end.
Though it’s linear in its approach, you still have the freedom to select whatever unlocked events that take your fancy. With many sponsor challenges, different parts to collect and online play, this has lots to make you want to return. A challenging achievement list adds replay value and at the time of the review, no-one had completed it, so completionists beware, the 100% status is going to be hard to achieve.
A tough choice to make.
I’m never going to consider myself a monster truck fan, yet I really enjoyed my time with this. I can see why gamers love the genre, and how they easily get addicted to each game. Other than its lame audio and OTT rumbling, I believe Monster Truck Championship offers a better and more rounded experience than Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, and I recommend buying it here! Start your career, choose your team members and race, smash and destroy everything in your path.