One of the fondest memories I have as a kid (at least in retrospect), was going to the monster truck rally with my dad and seeing Grave Digger in action. At the time, I was terrified of how loud it was, but looking back, I secretly loved it. I also played the Monster Jam games back on the N64, so when I saw Monster Jam: Steel Titans on PS4, I was suitably excited.
This latest release offers a huge roster, detailed vehicles, and a bunch of modes to choose from. Does all this come together into a rocking recreation of, arguably, the coolest vehicles around? Let’s find out.
Righteous Destruction, but Something Feels Off
Right off the bat, Monster Jam: Steel Titans tosses you into a tutorial to give you the basics. I knew going into this game that the feel of the trucks would be different than normal vehicles. If the tires are the size of most people, then it’s fair to expect they would handle differently.
Some people may not like the hefty feel of the trucks, but I was able to pick it up pretty fast. The tutorials did a nice job of teaching you basics, a few tricks, and how to get back up when you go down. All of this felt appropriately weighty in the first hours. The trucks handle with purpose, so you’ll need to treat them like the titans they are if you want to succeed.
Now, it’s not all perfect. The driving feels good, and even going off of ramps and jumps is extremely fun, but the interaction between trucks and the environment is almost the opposite. This is especially true when you’re barreling through outdoor environments in the waypoint mode.
Hitting something like a tree or rock can send you flying comically through the air, but it makes the truck suddenly feel like it’s made of tissue paper. It betrays the weighty feel that you normally get, so it can be frustrating when things like this happen.
The same can be said of the destruction, which is also a mixture of highs and lows. The way trucks break apart and rip off their frames, revealing the undercarriage, is excellent. However, when you’re doing a destruction mode that involves things like crates in your path, it just doesn’t have the impact I would have liked.
All of this comes down to the modes and options at your disposal. There is a very healthy selection of modes that range from racing, to destruction, to stunts, and the aforementioned waypoint mode where you have to travel to specific locations in a large map.
The ability to return to Monster Jam University at any time to explore an open area and polish up your skills is also appreciated. The roster is perhaps my favorite part of the experience, offering a huge selection of trucks with classics like Grave Digger, and plenty of newer designs that have extremely creative frames.
Upgrades come at you at a solid pace. You earn points for finishing in first of course, but your final time also earns points through several tiers that each offer their own bonuses based on how well you did. This lets you upgrade the speed, acceleration, handling, and other aspects of the truck.
These are tied to each driver/vehicle, so you’ll start from scratch when you switch. Beyond this somewhat questionable choice, my only other main issue with the gameplay is how it handles “out of bounds.”
When you’re on a track racing for example, if you stray off the dirt road, the game will tell you to get back on. That’s fine, but it doesn’t offer a countdown and, frankly, doesn’t allow enough time to correct your course before it teleports you back onto the track. Meanwhile, that precious time you lost lets the AI drivers get well ahead of you.
I really wish they would lighten up on the time between going out of bounds and being teleported. It’s simply too little right now and it can ruin a race that you were otherwise winning.
Other than that, I enjoyed the overall feel and spectacle of the experience. Those who want their vehicles incredibly realistic or responsive aren’t going to like the physics here, and while they have their issues, monster truck enthusiasts both young and old will find a lot to love here.
Wonderful Vehicles, Lacking Environments
Monster Jam: Steel Titans is a mixed bag in the graphics department. On the one hand, the trucks themselves are gorgeous and extremely detailed. Their destruction models also really showcase the damage you’ve done, and let you tear them down until their unrecognizable.
The image itself is also very crisp on a large screen. I was playing on a PS4 Pro, for any of those who are curious. The music is a collection of thrashing rock tracks that won’t appeal to everyone, but I had a childish grin on my face, due to my nostalgia for monster trucks.
While Monster Jam: Steel Titans falls short of being the definitive monster truck experience, it does do a lot of things right and it certainly puts a smile on my face. If you’re a fan of the real life rallies or you have little ones who love monster trucks, this latest entry does enough right to please the Grave Digger in all of us.
Final Score: 7.0/10
A copy of Monster Jam: Steel Titans was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 7/3/19