Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Josh Di Falco 10.10.2021

Review for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 on PlayStation 4

When it comes to monster trucks, the concept of oversized vehicles doing jumps and flips sounds as silly and goofy as it should be - and to its credit Rainbow Studios delivers this aspect of it perfectly in Monster Jam Steel Titans 2. Based on the official Monster Jam events, this title features the real-life trucks from the biggest teams in the sport, with six open-range maps to truck around in, with each map reflecting and fitting into the theme of a specific team. With over-the-top maps, a playful and cartoony visual appeal, sporadic physics, vehicular carnage, a boisterous soundtrack and, of course, the extravagant trucks themselves, Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 lives up to a lot of its promise despite a few glaring issues that hamper the overall enjoyment of racing and crashing these monster trucks.

Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 kicks off with a simple tutorial that is precise and straight-to-the-point. One of the biggest pros here is accessibility - the simplicity of the basic controls allows for people to pick this up and play, from learning how to race a monster truck around the track, to learning how to perform burnouts, flips, among other stunts, all while playing around with the combo-meter, and learning how to maintain the high scores. The monster trucks are quite easy to drive as well, especially considering the dual-stick nature of manoeuvring. The left analogue stick controls the front wheels, while the right one controls the back wheels - and learning how to use those two sticks in tandem is paramount to keeping the truck on the road and prevent it from spinning out of control. While it may sound tricky, it's actually a lot easier to learn and master than it may seem.

Once the tutorial is complete, the adventure begins in the first world, the aptly named 'Camp Crushmore.' This is split up into five worlds, with each one based on a team, which comprises of a series of vehicles. The worlds are open-range playgrounds that contain a bunch of secrets and collectibles. While the fun in these worlds is all about trying to find all of the secret collectibles, which in turn unlocks some new trucks, these are largely empty otherwise. The five worlds that are available are Camp Crushmore, Bark Park, The Highlands, The Wasteland, and The Graveyard, and each corresponds with a team of trucks, which are the Wildcards, Ruff Crowd, Defenders, Demolition Crew, and the Undead. While the trucks have little difference in terms of statistics, the fun of it is more getting to drive around with some of the fan-favourites such as 'Grave Digger' or 'Blue Thunder,' though the teams do have minor abilities unique to each one.

Screenshot for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 on PlayStation 4

When it comes to finding the secrets, basically there are various points of interest that will activate when the correct truck is used to get to said point. Some of these secrets are actually quite creative, while others are blatantly obvious and provide very little challenge. In addition to finding all the collectibles, trucks can also be unlocked by earning experience for each team, which is simple to do - basically drive around and complete challenges by using a truck from each team, until they have accumulated the required experience. Each world also has an "X Marks the Spot" puzzle which can be quite fun to do as well, and solving these puzzles unlocks the 'Crazy Creatures' class of trucks. The remaining trucks are then unlocked by completing the career mode, which is comprised of a series of events that range from standard races, to stunt-based challenges which is centred around performing stunts to earn the maximum points. Career mode contains 21 chapters, with each chapter completion unlocking a new truck to join the roster. While the trucks do have different starting statistics, they level up based on their usage in the various events - however, it takes quite an astute eye to pick up any noticeable differences. To be honest, the statistics is hardly the point of wanting to level up these trucks - instead, earning enough experience will unlock a new truck.

The whole "collect 'em all" mentality is perfect for Monster Jam 2, both in collecting all of the trucks, while also finding each world's collectibles as well. In addition to the standard speed boost ability, each team has their own ability as well. The Wildcards have an extra boost for example, while the Ruff Crowd can gain speed by drafting behind their opponents. Defenders-class vehicles can deflect their opponents if they get too close, while the Demolition cars can plough through destructible objects without being hampered, and the Undead trucks can make it harder to be overtaken by the trucks lagging behind them. While these abilities are great gimmicks to be used during the story mode, they are disabled during the Big Shows, which are the official events of Monster Jam 2. These are useful because the experience gained during these events carry across to the main game, so there is plenty of opportunities to max out all of the team's experience that is required to unlock all of those specific trucks. In addition to the Big Show, there is also the 'Big Show Plus' which contains harder competition, but even more events to race through for those who simply just cannot get enough of the trucking.

Screenshot for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 on PlayStation 4

When it comes to the various events, some of the stunt-based ones still feel quite lacking in comparison to the general races. For example, Freestyle and Two-Wheeled events are all about performing stunts to earn points, and quite frankly, these can be abused by simply spamming the left and right sticks to make the truck bounce around and defy the laws of physics in order to get the maximum score. It's quite laughable upon which the ease of these events can be exploited with minimal effort. However, to make up for it, Derby Racing is an absolute blast to play. Where the Circuit Race is just a straight race to the finish, Derby Race forces half the trucks to race in the opposite direction, which causes quite a lot of fun carnage when the trucks meet halfway through the lap.

The main issue with Monster Jam 2 is the physics. A small bump can send the trucks flopping around like a fish out of water - and the 'restart' ability does a rubbish job of actually being efficient. Basically, if a truck ends up upside down, restart should allow for the truck to respawn on the track, but it takes so long to actually be implemented that all the opponents get plenty of time to overtake. This, more often than not, makes the hard-restart a better option by just starting the race again, which then makes that temporary restart a waste of a feature. There are also some visual quirks such as the lack of the water splashes when tearing through a puddle at full speed, which also feels quite odd, and makes Monster Jam 2 feel more like a child is playing with the monster trucks in its bedroom as opposed to racing real life trucks. While the sense of Monster Jam 2 being an arcade game as opposed to a monster truck sim is quite prevalent, it would've been nice for those little visual details to help add more life to the various maps.

Screenshot for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 on PlayStation 4

Additionally, the collectibles part of Monster Jam 2 is quite fun as well, but it is hampered by a bad camera control system. The camera can swivel left and right, but it cannot be tilted up or down, which makes trying to find certain collectibles that are hidden high up on various ledges quite tricky. While the mechanics of making a camera tilt up or down probably makes less sense considering the truck is the controlled character... when there are collectibles that are hidden high up on cliffs or in the air, trying to aim for those collectibles is trickier and more cumbersome than it needs to be. In addition to the camera, there is a funny quirk that takes place: during the review, three trucks were "unlocked" prior to reaching the appropriate goals. Once those goals were then reached, the game officially then reveals the "unlocked new truck" screen for the truck that was already available. While it's not clear what exactly caused these issues to happen - it's not exactly game-breaking but quite a curious thing nonetheless.

Rainbow Studios has done a terrific job of weighing into the over-the-top zaniness of monster trucks. With vehicles like Backwards Bob, which literally has the body sitting backwards to give the illusion that the truck is driving backwards, to the Monster Mutt Poodle truck, to the Crushstation truck that resembles a lobster on wheels, Monster Jam 2 allows for plenty of opportunity to make these comical bits pop. The Bark Park is littered with dog kennels for example, to fit in with the various dog-related trucks, while it also has a track in the shape of a dog bone, which is quite creative. On the flipside, however, The Graveyard is quite possibly the biggest juxtaposition in Monster Jam 2 - setting and concept-wise, the Graveyard is probably the best-looking world in here, but it is the worst map for racing around, or purely navigating it in a monster truck, due to the tight confined roads and the limited space available to traverse. For a title that revolves around racing, The Graveyard tends to go against everything that makes Monster Jam 2 fun, which is disappointing, because the entire concept had quite a lot going for it. Basically, the Grave Digger deserved better from its hub world.

Screenshot for Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 is an over-the-top playground for those who love all things monster trucks. In addition to the comical trucks that many will recognise from the real-life Monster Jam events, Rainbow Studio has also done a fabulous job of creating the worlds that are inspired by the various teams. There's the well-designed Mutt-map that best reflects the comical sights of the Mutt vehicles, to the haunted Graveyard that left a lot to be desired from a racing perspective. As is the case with monster trucks, there are a few bumps and hits that can often mar the experience and put a dampener on things - but for the most part, this title is a few hours of fun for the monster truck enthusiasts who just want to escape into this virtual playground of destructive carnage and mayhem!

Developer

Rainbow Studios

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Sport

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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