[Review] Monster Jam Steel Titans – Nintendo Switch

Written by Austin King
  • Developer: Rainbow Studios
  • Publisher: THQ Nordic
  • Release Date: Nov. 26, 2019
  • Price: $29.99 / £26.99
  • Review code provided by THQ Nordic

Welcome to the Jam

Want to race monster trucks through the wilderness? How about going head-to-head against a friend? Or, do you just want to demolish stuff and relish the destruction? If you answered yes to all of those questions, then Monster Jam Steel Titans might be for you–if you’re willing to overlook some flaws. And while there’s a career mode like we’ve come to expect from games like this, there are plenty of ways to while away the hours by doing all kinds of other stuff.

A Monster of a Career

Career Mode is where players will unlock a lot of new content, whether it’s racking up points to buy new trucks (modeled after real-world racers like Grave Digger and El Toro Loco) or new venues. If you aren’t into standard racing, then don’t worry. The career mode will have you speeding to find waypoints and all kinds of other objectives that change up the formula. This could be a problem if there’s a gameplay mechanic you enjoy over the others, but it keeps the game from getting too boring, too quickly. Still, the biggest problem I have with the game’s career mode is that it often feels too repetitive. I think it’s because the tracks and real-world venues all feel extremely similar. I’m all for verisimilitude in a video game, but Monster Jam Steel Titans is trying so hard to feel real that it often forgets to feel fun.

Causing a Ruckus with Your Truck-us

There are thankfully lots of game modes to try out. If this is your first foray into Monster Jam (or just racing games in general), then there’s an entire part of the game dedicated to showing you the ropes: Monster Jam University. It’s a mix of typical tutorials (called Monster Jam 101) and freestyle driving. And if you don’t want to spend time in the tutorials, that’s okay. You can totally skip it. Quick Play is where I spent most of my time and had the most fun. You can select from a wide array of game modes like finding waypoints, going head-to-head, circuit racing, and more. My personal favorite was “Timed Destruction,” in which you have two minutes to wreak as much havoc as possible on unsuspecting junk and porta-potties inside an arena.

Still, the problem persists that there isn’t much difference in the venues. Sure, the map may tell you that you’re in Atlanta now instead of Toronto, but I honestly can’t tell a difference. I get it; these are modeled after real-world venues from Monster Jam so you can’t expect too many artistic liberties. But since you have to unlock these new areas, it just doesn’t feel like much of a reward. And while we’re on the subject of rewards, let’s talk about a big draw: unlocking and playing as real-world monster trucks. The amount of points needed to buy these trucks feels steep. I expect a certain amount of grinding to unlock rewards, but spending 40,000 points on a truck when you get about 1000 from winning a race is a bit much–especially if you’re trying to unlock them all.

Switching Gears

For all of its attempts to seem real, Monster Jam Steel Titans looks pretty good on Switch. However, while the graphics are pretty good, the load times are pretty long. Several load screens passed the sixty second mark while I was experimenting with two-player mode with my family over the holidays. This feels especially long when some of the races only last a couple minutes. And while two-player mode is fun enough, I couldn’t help but wonder why it isn’t four. In a time when almost every racing game goes up to at least four players locally, only allowing for two feels pretty outdated. It doesn’t help that online multiplayer is also missing. More than anything, the game feels like one of the old PS1 racers my brother and I played growing up. Fun? Sure. But in 2019, it certainly doesn’t feel current.

But Is It Fun?

Now it’s time for the big question: is Monster Jam Steel Titans fun? I enjoyed demolishing stuff for points in “Timed Destruction” mode, and seeing your monster truck fly into the air and flip around a dozen times like a steel ragdoll usually put a grin on my face. But the fun is short-lived. The game is just too repetitive and bland. While not as realistic as a driving sim, it’s also devoid of the silly kind of fun you might find in a wacky racing or old-school driving game. Because of this, Monster Jam Steel Titans is somewhere in the middle, which ends up making it feel generic.

Pros

  • Plenty of game modes to try
  • Two player mode is limited but fun
  • “Timed Destruction” mode is a highlight

Cons

  • Most of the tracks and arenas look the same
  • Fairly generic racing
  • Rewards aren’t very incentivizing
  • Some long loading screens

Verdict

Monster Jam Steel Titans has some fun moments, but it’s generic gameplay and bland locales don’t leave much of an impression.

2/5

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