Monster Truck Destruction
Developer: ODD Games
Publisher: Merge Games
Release Date: 7/10/2015
I once waited in line for tickets to see Monster Trucks in sub zero temperatures because I wanted to see the oversized trucks smash regular sized things. There was a group of guys in front of me wearing shorts and no shirts. What I’m saying is that for some people the idea of goofy giant vehicles doing tricks and wrecking cars is enough to throw common sense under a huge tire and drive over it. This might present itself in ways such as standing in sub zero temps without a shirt on to hand over money to see these trucks, or maybe that a full back tattoo of Gravedigger is reasonable if you think about it, or that you should buy Monster Truck Destruction.
These are all bad ideas.
Monster Truck Destruction is a port of an iOS game and when it initially released you could really tell because it still had some of the UI things like telling you to Tap Here. That might show you how rough of a state this game was released in. Graphically you can tell it was something originally designed for iOS from the way the interface is laid out and the fact that the graphical fidelity isn’t going to challenge your computer specs. Bland textures and simple light effects make the arenas feel a bit dull. As a tablet game the graphics might be impressive but as a PC game it’s less than impressive. The trucks look decent and while the physics in the game are interesting and it’s fun to see the truck get smashed up, the damage modeling for the cars and buses you smoosh look less like authentic car destruction and more like they’re wax candles of cars and buses that melt under the heat of your tires.
Still graphics aren’t all that important to me, it’s if the game is any fun to play and that’s really where Monster Truck Destruction breaks an axle and sends a tire flying off into the stands. Which is sad because you can tell a lot of dedication went into making this game an authentic experience. You’ve got official Bigfoot trucks with a multitude of different designs and power ratings, arena layouts designed by Monster X, and the loud engine noises and constant generic rock music that will make you feel like you’re one stale beer away from being in the audience.
As part of that the game is split between the two things you see at Monster Truck events. There’s head to head racing on mirrored tracks, where you do a qualifying round and then go through a tournament to crown a winner. There’s also the Freestyle events where you have a time limit and drive like a nutcase, earning points for jumps, flips, destruction, donuts, and other tricks which you try to string together as many as possible for points. The can be done as individual events or as Championship events, which string the two together for a long series of events. Money is earned through these events and even if you don’t place too highly you can earn a bunch of money through one Championship series. This cash is used to buy and unlock more trucks and to also purchase upgradable parts.
Which is all well and good and there might be a mediocre game hidden in here that I’d enjoy despite the graphics, but it wont let me play it. I mean that figuratively, in that for the initial release the controls were super wonky and no amount of playing with the sensitivity settings would fix it. You could use WASD and the arrows for controlling the game but there’s no subtlety to the controls at all, every turn is a full all the way to the right or left turn. You have to carefully tap the keys to make any turns that aren’t 180 degrees. Acceleration has only two speed, stop and pedal to the metal. This makes races nearly impossible, I say nearly because the AI pathfinding makes some really strange decisions making it so that you can occasionally win by just slow careful driving.
Because slow and careful driving is exactly what you expect from Monster Truck Destruction.
The full on speed and wonky turning controls are fine for the Freestyle mode where lack of control and driving like your using the steering wheel as a coaster for your Miller High Life is rewarded in points. Sort of. In the release build I could not reverse, at all. Which meant if I ran into a wall while driving like I lost most of my motor control functions, which in this game was all the time, I would hit a wall and then be stuck. Later I realized I could hit the position reset button a lot and sort of float backwards slowly. The first set of controller inputs worked mainly with the left joystick for forward left and right. Forward on the joystick to accelerate and any deviation, even the width of a pubic hair to the left or right, and it was full turns in that direction. I found this to be unplayable that way.
Then they patched the game! So I decided to wait to play it more before reviewing it. I could use the controller now, sort of. Triggers for acceleration/reverse and left and right on the left joystick for steering. Only sometimes accelerating with the triggers worked, and then would stop working for a moment, then just start working again. The dead zone on the joystick was too large as well. But hey when it worked it was much better using the controller that way, accept for all those moments when it would just stop working and I’d lose. Back to WASD, which was more functional but still awkward as hell.
When I said it wont let me play it figuratively because the controls suck so much, I also meant it wont let me play the game literally. After one session I left and came back and now it wont load past the developer logo screen. From the game forums on Steam this appears to be a common issue. Part of me wishes it controlled better and actually load the game so I could play the kind of janky looking truck smashing game that’s just out of reach. Another part of me is grateful it freezes so I wouldn’t waste another moment of my time on it.
I mean even if the controls worked okay this game still feels lacking in features and looks like a lazy tablet port. Right now they’re encouraging people to take screenshots and share their scores and times on their facebook page instead of having that be programmed into the game itself. The week one patch included a Beta for multiplayer, which feels appropriate since one release the game still felt like it was in Alpha. Maybe in a few more patches it’ll be ready for release, but what’s on Steam at the moment is half-baked at best and needed some more time in the oven.
It’s on iOS and Tablet for free. If you must subject yourself to it, I’d recommend trying the playable version that costs less on those devices. Otherwise prepare to have your expectations crushes like Gravedigger crushes painted aluminum car forms.
Short Attention Span Summary
This game can suck on an exhaust pipe.