Monster trucks: huge vehicular beasts that simply ooze a sense of merciless destruction, and therefore, fun.
Surprisingly though, despite seeming like the perfect fit for the world of video games, there are hardly any featuring monster trucks at all. Enter GameMill and Team6, presenting us with their new title, Monster Jam: Crush It!. Offering a wide range of licensed Monster Jam trucks and a generous number of events in which to use them, surely there’s not much they could do to disappoint – well, aside from devising a handling and physics model that’s about as much fun as exposing your bare bum cheeks to the searing fires of Hell. Oh, really… they did? Damn!
Hitting you like a smack in the face, Monster Jam: Crush It!’s horrendous handling and physics model first strikes you upon entering either of its stadium modes. Challenging you to engage in races that take less than 10 seconds to complete, or spend up to 90 seconds flailing around in the same suffocatingly enclosed stadiums gaining points for performing jumps, you’ll probably spend more time in menus and load screens than actually having “fun”. And by “fun”, I mean wrestling with vehicles that are both under and over responsive within seconds of each other whilst also exhibiting their own laws of gravity and physics that would mystify any scientist. Honestly, I can’t put into words how bad driving around Monster Jam: Crush It!’s seven stadiums actually feels – I truly find it hard to believe anyone actually playtested the thing and said “yeah, that’s good to go!” aside from Satan himself.
Luckily, Monster Jam: Crush It! is somewhat redeemed by its Hill Climb mode, but it still falls way short of being even average. Essentially aping the gameplay of Red Lynx’s Trials series, Hill Climb lets you loose on four environments in which you don’t have to worry about the handling – all you have to do is accelerate, brake and control the orientation of your truck as it travels through the air. Sure, the physics are still terrible, but there’s some strangely perverse fun to be had storming through each of the environments’ seven maps, complete with time attack, stunt and survival variants. It’s all very limited mind – you’re in no way going to find the same deep gameplay and lasting challenge of a Trials game here –but I did find myself working my way through the events one after the other without wanting to break my controller in anguish, so they’re playable at least. There’s also the added task of collecting the letters spelling CRUSH in each and every event, although there’s not much point unless you’re going for achievements or trophies. In fact, achievement and trophy hunters with deep pockets will love this game – in little over two hours I’d unlocked everything it had to give with little effort.
Easy digital ego boosts aside, there’s really no reason to continue playing Monster Jam: Crush It! in the long run. You can unlock more wonderfully recreated Monster Jam trucks by fulfilling certain conditions, but they don’t have individual stats or unique features, just cosmetic differences. And whilst each and every event across all three modes awards medals for your performance, it all amounts to a big fat nothing. There are online leaderboards though, so you can at least see which other poor souls have been unfortunate enough to subject themselves to the game and then maybe try to be better than them. Oh, and despite being called Monster Jam: Crush It! you’ll be surprised to find that you don’t do any crushing at all. It’s a shame, as even just a tiny bit of crushing action would have been greatly received.
When the only two positive things you can say about a game are that its vehicles look nice and that you can get all its achievements within a few hours, you know you’re in deep doo-doo. Monster Jam: Crush It! is crushingly disappointing, taking the recipe for what should have been a simple yet enjoyable game and then failing to add even the most basic of ingredients. Sure, some fun can be had with its Hill Climb mode in a “so bad it’s entertaining” kinda way, but its duo of stadium modes are far beyond any such redemption. Failing to get the basics of a driving game anywhere near what could be deemed as acceptable, Monster Jam: Crush It! is only notable for the frequent bouts of horror it inflicts upon you. It truly is a monstrosity.