MonsterTruck Rally - Review

   22/05/2010 at 09:26       Drew Bower       2 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - MonsterTruck Rally, XLab Technologies, BigFoot, iPhone

Everyone loves monster trucks. Who can resist getting excited at seeing huge, over-the-top vehicles with wheels the size of houses crushing mere everyday cars and jumping through hoops of fire? I certainly can’t, that’s for sure. Sadly MonsterTruck Rally doesn’t have car crushing or jumping through hoops of fire. No, what this game offers is flat out racing against other monster trucks. Still, it should be fun…

The game begins with 3 options – career, multiplayer and practice. Career is naturally the main option to go for. Initially you have one monster truck and one track to choose from. As you progress through the game, you earn credits to purchase trucks and open up more tracks.

A racing game on the iPhone will always live or die by the controls that the developers have opted for. In MonsterTruck Rally, you are forced to use the accelerometer. I’m not the biggest fan of this as a control method, with the ‘lag’ effect making controls difficult to work with. In MT: Rally, the controls do work ok, but you can’t help curse the lack of precision - especially when quick reactions are needed to forge your way around the tracks. This is further heightened by the fact the game is exceedingly harsh on punishing going slightly off track or clipping any fences/other trucks. One misjudgement can quite literally take the race away from you. So an alternate control scheme would certainly have been welcomed. Although, and however unintended, this does actually add to the feel of driving a monster truck. Not that I have ever driven one for real, but this is how I’d imagine it to be! Accelerate and brake is mapped to the right and left and side of the screen and are satisfactorily responsive.

Although the pace of the game never feels like you are going at break neck speeds, the trucks do gather up a fair amount of pace. The 3D tracks look nice enough from passing by trees and farms to driving along snowy tracks and over frozen ponds. You have the choice of 3 views to choose from – the standard ‘chase’ cam, cockpit and a full screen view. Cockpit quickly became my choice, mainly because the trucks are quite large and thus in chase view, it’s hard to see the upcoming track! The monster trucks are all nicely modelled and look ‘sturdy’ as you race against them.

Sound wise, we have a big problem because you cannot play your own iPod music. This isn’t normally a big issue due to in game music being adequate. The problem here is that there is none. The only sound you get is that of the engine endlessly revving and boy, does that get annoying fast. So I found myself with two options: listen to the engine or play in silence.

MonsterTruck Rally features an online multiplayer mode. I’d love to say it works brilliantly, but every time I tried to use it, I got a connection error message with no explanation of what the actual problem is!

In some ways I feel bad for being so harsh, but then I also feel quite generous in awarding the 3/5 score. It’s not that game is bad, more that it just needs a little more polish to warrant a purchase. The makings of a great game are there for sure, so I hope that the guys at XLab Technologies can go that extra mile in any future updates.

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