TerraTech (Xbox One) Review

By Nikola Suprak 24.03.2019

Review for TerraTech  on Xbox One

When kids get their hands on a LEGO kit, there are essentially two different kinds of reactions: there's the type of kid that meticulously follows the instructions until they have a perfect Death Star that they can proudly display on their shelf for all to see, and then there are the kids that smash the blocks into a three-tower bulldozer with flamethrowers and the heads of ten different mini-figurines mounted on the dashboard that they then use to smash up the creations of the first kid. TerraTech is a game designed specifically for that second type of kid. There is a bit of Minecraft's DNA in here, and a bit of Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, but the central concept is a very simple and appealing one: make a tank and destroy everything you see.

The main mode of the game, the campaign, will immediately start the action off by tossing an unfortunate prospector down into a random planet with the jalopy of all jalopies. But, fear not, as there are plenty other pieces of tech that can be added to this vehicle that will greatly expand its fire power and capabilities. Unfortunately, getting this tech will require a fair bit of exploration as it will be hidden and tucked away in every corner of the map. Some will be in chests, some will be rewards for completing certain missions, and others can be purchased from some of the stores scattered around the landscape.

Screenshot for TerraTech  on Xbox One

There are four different factions on the map, each with their own missions and unique pieces of tech you can gather by completing certain requirements. Think of it as a sort of play on Grand Theft Auto 2, if that game allowed the player to design their own tank to attack rival factions with. This is the sort of game that is immediately addictive, and the central hook is a great one. Far and away the best part of the gameplay is the customization, as it does a great job of really letting the car creation shine. Going out and tracking down new pieces for the vehicles works wonderfully well, and your success immediately feeds into the gameplay as the car becomes bigger and better as the game progresses.

This isn't Minecraft or even The Sims level of customization, but it is just about perfect for this style of game. There will be plenty of car combat and racing to enjoy along the way, and each and every piece that gets unlocked will make you better in both of these. The variety of pieces at the player's disposal is truly impressive, and along the way better weapons, wheels, and other boosts will be unlocked at a nice, consistent pace. Of course, design of the vehicle is totally up to the player's whims, and there is something rewarding about putting together a creation entirely of your own design and conquering every challenge the game has in store - and, fortunately, this isn't just about creativity and car design as this does a good job implementing some interesting challenges along the way.

Screenshot for TerraTech  on Xbox One

Most of the gameplay revolves around races or combat, although there is a healthy dose of exploration tossed in there as well. Of course, all of this is built around the concept of improving the vehicle, so exploration will yield new and better parts and it is also possible to cannibalize parts from broken foes. Both the combat and the racing are a bit basic, likely a result of giving the player so much control over the specifics of the vehicle. To ensure there wasn't one "useful" type of design, it was probably necessary to cut back a bit on the complexity of the other parts of the game. Neither of these are bad, and they do a good enough job testing the player's design abilities, and while it can be basic, it's still a good deal of fun. There will also be missions to complete and plenty of hidden goodies to find, so over the campaign here is a meaty and well-designed test of the car creation. The car creation is still the true star of the gameplay, with everything else serving to test that.

Outside of the main mode, there are a handful of other options here as well. One of the better ones is the Creative mode, which is essentially just a free play. It can get a bit boring after messing around in it for a while, but it also serves as a great demonstration as to exactly what can be done in this game as all the various pieces are unlocked and available to build a dream car. There is also a "build a car and then race it" mode, as well as a "go online and mess around with other people" mode. Both of these sound like good ideas, but the racing is essentially just a less complex and interesting version of the main campaign mode and online mode is currently populated by tumbleweeds and dust mites. We tried several different times to find someone, anyone to play with and the servers seemed mostly vacant. Fortunately, the main campaign is more than meaty enough to make up for some of these other modes being less than impressive.

Screenshot for TerraTech  on Xbox One

The way this is reminiscent of the now very dated Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, is in the fact that this controls a bit like whoever is driving the car is on some pretty powerful cough syrup. The controls aren't exactly bad, per se, but things here are a bit more sluggish than anticipated. This is something built, almost exclusively, around car combat and car design. Therefore, when you finally get in the car and it controls a bit like a 1987 Buick, it's a bit disappointing. Turns are a bit looser than they should be and it is incredibly easy to get wedged into a piece of the environment and become temporarily stuck. It is by no means a game breaker and after some experience it is fairly easy to plan around it, but this game truly could have been something special if they nailed the driving and they just fall short in that regard.

The other issue is the game can be kind of, well, boring. The early portion is a lot of fun when, better and better parts are being added to the creation, but TerraTech never really figures out where to go from there. It can all get kind of same-y, and really the whole experience is just focused on building up things bigger and better. This is great for something like Minecraft where there aren't any limits on your imagination. But here it can feel a bit stifling, and there are only so many different things that can be done to a car before the idea start running out. The combat and exploration are just a bit basic, so things really fall hard on relying on the customization aspect of the gameplay - and while that is really good, it isn't as good as it would need to be to carry the whole thing by itself.

Screenshot for TerraTech  on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

TerraTech is by no means bad, and there's a lot to like and have fun with in it. The car creation aspect is wonderfully creative, and it's a lot of fun building up the car (or weird shambling monstrosity) of your dreams. A lot of effort went into this creation element, but it seems like nothing else was thought out in nearly as much detail. Creation is every bit as enjoyable as you think, but this never really gets around to having anything interesting to do with it. This emptiness, and a somewhat shoddy control scheme, are going to keep this just shy of great. But if you are just looking to get creative (and don't mind getting stuck in a rock every once in a while), TerraTech is a great way to kill some time.

Developer

Payload Studios

Publisher

Payload Studios

Genre

Shooter

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   

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