Though there are exceptions, budget-priced games don't stack up well against full-priced games because of their generally lower quality in all aspects of their design. Unfortunately, Monster Truck Rumble only perpetuates this pattern with its uninspired single-player modes, poor course design and graphics, and terrible sound effects.
Monster Truck Rumble is bland and boring.
Monster Truck Rumble offers four single-player modes, including a free run, circuit race, wreck 'n' crush, and lance race. The free run mode doesn't include any objectives, so you're free to roam around any course to take a look at the monochromatic terrain, as well as the animals, which look and act as though they're made out of Styrofoam. In the circuit race mode, you'll choose from any four of the six courses available (the remaining two are lane race tracks only) and race through checkpoints scattered around the area. The wreck 'n' crush mode hides a series of small car piles around the circuit-style courses, and the truck that wrecks the most cars within the given time period wins the mode. Lastly, the lane race is a basic track race in an enclosed area filled with various obstacles and a few tight turns. Three of the four modes that involve competition actually use a helpful radar system, indicating the location of checkpoints, car piles, and opponents. There is also a damage meter that indicates the amount of damage your truck has sustained before it's completely wrecked. Monster Truck Rumble offers no championship-style mode that rewards you for a good race, so when a race ends, the main menu screen reappears. There's nothing particularly wrong with any of the available modes of play--it's the fact that other aspects of the game are so poor that it makes these other modes suffer.
Monster Truck Rumble's visuals are one of its weakest points. For somewhat obvious reasons, the developers based courses on areas such as the Mojave Desert and other similarly desolate locales, but regardless of the course name, they all pretty much look the same. Granted, one course may have a canyon area while another may have a small farmhouse or a set of train tracks that lead to nowhere, but they all use the same brown textures, the same Styrofoam objects, and the same general structure. They're so lifeless and unappealing that they make the game feel like a chore. It's also worth noting that what appear to be buffalo and chickens aren't really animals at all, as they flip and roll through the air like small rocks when they make contact with your truck. Also, special effects, such as rain that happens to be black and headlights that don't actually illuminate the surrounding area, provide further evidence of the general lack of effort put forth to create convincing environments. To top it all off, the fact that there's slowdown at higher resolutions is completely unforgivable considering the simplistic low-polygon 3D models used for the environments and trucks.
Along similar lines, Monster Truck Rumble's sound effects just don't make any sense. Whenever you collide with a chicken, a buffalo, or even tumbleweed, the game produces the same sound effect used when two trucks collide. Unless Monster Truck Rumble is trying to make some strange environmental message, it's obvious that sound effects weren't exactly the highest priority. As for music, there is one song that plays during the menu screen and nothing more, which is another missed opportunity to give the game some much-needed character.
There are plenty of budget-priced driving games that are much better.
Control is just about the only area of the game that isn't a complete disaster. For the most part, Monster Truck Rumble's controls are quite responsive, so you shouldn't have any problems navigating each track. There are moments when you can lose complete control of the car, particularly during spinouts or collisions with various objects, but that's to be expected. Also, slowdown tends to affect the control at times, but after a while, you'll learn to compensate for it.
In the end, all of the racing modes in Monster Truck Rumble, including its two-player split-screen mode, are ruined by the bland, poorly designed environments. Despite that it doesn't play terribly, Monster Truck Rumble really has nothing to offer--it's impossible to recommend despite its low price tag, as there are plenty of other similarly priced racing games that are much, much better.
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