MONSTER JAM: MAXIMUM DESTRUCTION
Publisher: Ubi Soft
Release Date: 5/14/2002
Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction pits you behind the wheel of 26 different well-known monster trucks. The point of the game is to crush your opponent, literally, or score the most points in any given round. The premise sounds great, I mean, what better automobile type than monster trucks is there for maximum destruction? However, the game falls victim to a slew of different problems that ultimately keep it from even coming close to realizing its potential. It does have its moments however, and despite the slew of shortcomings this game boasts, monster truck fans will still undoubtedly get quite a kick out of it.
While Monster Jam does pimp 26 different cars that are diversified in appearance you'll be more than disenchanted by its limited play mechanics and sloppy camera perspective. Each stage you successfully complete will award you with a certain amount of cash that you can use to purchase new trucks or upgrades. Every truck plays nearly identically, however, and regardless of how much you trick out your truck with the various offered upgrades it does little to change the overall capability (or enjoyability for that matter) of the truck your using. In other words, there is little reason to favor any particular truck, outside of aesthetic preferences. There literally is no tangible difference between them, no unique abilities or attributes, nothing.
The game includes eight levels in which to reign your monster truck madness on the competition, among which is the Jungle Temple that allows you to pilot your smash-mobile through ancient artifacts in the land before time. The Vegas Strip, which is an attempt to digitally recreate the real-life location, but fails miserably due to shoddy level design and extremely marred textures. And Hollywood, where you should expect to run over tons of various filming equipment, backdrops, and of course, the opposing truckers. Each stage is composed of multiple areas that are usually interconnected by simple hanging-bridges, corridors, or other narrow pathways.
There are special power-ups and weapons that can be picked up during the course of a fight that do successfully add a twist to the otherwise generic dynamics of the game. Among the featured weapons in the game are the flamethrower that automatically targets the nearest enemy and unleashes a barrage of incendiary fury on the opponent's ass, or the machine gun, which is all but useless since targeting is incredibly difficult, and there is also a missile launcher that, at best, serves it purpose. These weapons are fun to mess around with but really don't do much to help you achieve your objective, which is to destroy the rival truckers. Taking care of business is best done by relentlessly ramming into the opponents until they eventually explode into a swirling mass of colored light and conveniently disappear.
Visually, however, the game actually looks quite impressive with real-time reflective model-renderings and sharp, realistic textures for the truck's various parts. As your vehicle takes more damage it will start to lose layers of it's body components, which adds a cool sense of realism to the experience. There are also other aesthetic nuances that help to make the game a real looker, like the fiery engine exhaust and highly detailed suspension system. In fact, the truck models are so well rendered that even the traction of each truck's tires is easily visible - it's a shame the gameplay and sound is so lacking. The commentator is a nice touch, announcing various on-screen actions and names of trucks but as is the case with most narrator-additions in videogames it becomes quickly annoying and serves little purpose outside of getting on your nerves. The generic rock-tunes that comprise the majority of the game's music is no better, expect a handful of run-of-the-mill sound-tracks peppered with a dash of cheesy guitar riffs. Sound-effects are adequate enough, like the sound of raging truck engines and various collisions, though they are nothing to anxiously write home to yo' mutha about.
The entire game can be completed quite easily; the main mode (career mode) consists simply of playing through the eight unique stages 3 times over. There are also some luke-warm 2-player options, and 15 various mini-games that will allow you to perform jumps over junked-cars and offers up some racing elements. Drudging through the game will ultimately award you with up to 36 new trucks, unique only cosmetically, mind you. Overall, I would recommend that you steer clear of Monster Jam unless you are a hardcore metal-bending monster truck-smashing big-rig fanatic, but even than do not expect a huge amount of lasting appeal.