Game Reviews

MonsterTruck Rally

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MonsterTruck Rally

I've never driven a monster truck, but I'm guessing things tend to get a bit muddy.

Like a car speeding through a puddle on a sodden road, those gargantuan tires kick up a lot of spray as they roll through the dirt. It's fun to revel in such filth, of course, but there's indulging in a racer that's a little rough around the edges, and then there's suffering one that's just a blatant cheat.

No prizes for guessing which category MonsterTruck Rally belongs to. This is a game that hinders you from the second the race starts, bugs and bad design resulting in a sullied racer.

Good game gone bad

Before touring MonsterTruck Rally's boulevard of broken dreams, it's important to point out that there are a number of things it manages to get right.

Visually, the courses appear fairly impressive – provided you keep your eyes on the track and don't let them wander to the slightly sparse surroundings.

The game also employs what should be a no-nonsense control scheme: the accelerometer handles steering while invisible pads on the left and right sides of the screen take charge of breaking and acceleration.

Handling can be altered from within the options menu (it needs to be - it's too rigid in its default setting) and the four tracks on offer bring a nice sense of variety to proceedings. There's a snowy stage and a jaunt in the jungle helping to stave off any sense of sterility.

Monster mash

As you might expect, managing to do so is fairly essential if progression is your aim. With just three trucks competing in a race, finishing as high as you can should be fairly straightforward. Doing so adds credit to your account that you can then use to unlock further trucks and tracks accordingly.

There's also a handy Practice mode which lets you get to grips with the courses you've unlocked at your own pace, but in truth this makes little difference to your actual performance in a race.

The vehicles, too, offer a nice medley of monster trucks, some fairly standard offerings joined by the kind of lorry cab you might expect to see firing past you on the highway. Yet it's this very use of both the tracks and the vehicles themselves that essentially rips MonsterTruck Rally apart: it's too hard to keep these beasts on the track.

Stuck in the mud

That's because the physics are laughable. At times, any contact at all turns your four-wheeled behemoth into a pinball, the truck spinning round mid-air like it's carrying no weight whatsoever.

The game also has a habit of letting you pop through the scenery at will. There's often no way of getting back on track, either, making the 'reset' button – which places you back onto the course – the only option.

The additional problem here is doing so drops you about a quarter of a mile back from your original position. This makes unintentionally veering off path a race killer because the game automatically resets you to an inferior position.

Add to this the nasty habit of succumbing to Toyota's sudden acceleration syndrome – your truck randomly powering off at full pelt without any input from you whatsoever – and you have a game with one bug too many.

It's not overstating it to suggest that, when all these faults are combined, MonsterTruck Rally becomes unplayable. As such, it's hard to see this as anything but a failed experiment by Xlabs, its sloppy implementation leaving its trailing in the dust of its racing rivals by some distance.

MonsterTruck Rally

Too broken to survive a real assault in the mud, MonsterTruck Rally feels half finished, shackled by one too many bugs and patchy coding
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.