Monster vans are the automotive embodiment of a barely tipsy dad coming dwelling after a marriage: spirits excessive however knocking over all of the backyard gnomes. They’re huge, loud, and somewhat damaging – however lovable oafs, nonetheless. It’s onerous to hate a large, five-ton truck carrying a novelty hat.
Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 quaintly leans into this type of wackiness with a sequence of huge, themed open worlds celebrating a foolish but earnest steady of official vans formed like canines and zombies, however its anticlimactic exploration aims and the vanilla, chore-like construction of the competitions on supply sadly make for a surprisingly boring drive.
The shortage of spark is shortly evident. After a bafflingly fundamental tutorial, I used to be out of the blue and unceremoniously dumped into the primary of a number of open-world environments, leaving me to press pause and shuffle via menus to uncover what I used to be truly imagined to do.
Metal Titans 2 splits its motion over two separate profession paths, however neither of them are very fascinating. There’s the sector and stadium-based championship profession, which resembles conventional, real-world Monster Jam occasions, after which there’s the World Profession mode, which is actually only a sequence of precisely the identical enviornment and stadium occasions however with a waypoint problem or circuit race based mostly within the open worlds included sometimes.
There’s additionally a smattering of issues to go and discover in these maps, however doing so has confirmed annoying and unrewarding. You’ll be able to’t “uncover” a secret within the flawed truck, however even in the best truck nothing I’ve discovered to this point has been significantly fascinating. Solely Monster Mutt Poodle can open a particular scorching pink barn to quickly make a brand new bounce accessible, as an illustration, however the bounce solely seems to exist as a method to gather a floating inverted triangle. Based on the sport, floating triangles unlock extra vans – however finally it’s simply stuff on an inventory to tick off in a recreation that’s already a repetitive slog.
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Truck dealing with is satisfactory but it surely positively lacks the sense of weight and inertia present in Monster Truck Championship. The final driving is okay and the unbiased rear-wheel steering managed by the best stick actually differentiates it from most different racers. The brief course, head-to-head racing feels greatest, the place you may whip the vans into fairly satisfying and aggressive powerslides. Nevertheless, issues unravel considerably as quickly as you tip over, or tips are required. Admittedly Metal Titans 2 doesn’t place itself as a simulation, however for five-ton vans they certain swirl about like sweet wrappers caught in an updraft.
An arcade method to dealing with isn’t inherently unhealthy, but it surely positively makes the freestyle occasions simplistic affairs. Scoring an ideal 10 is a cakewalk when all you must do is pin the throttle, level at a ramp, rip a few backflips, and roll round. It gained’t look fairly however the factors will rack up. I by no means wanted a plan; all I ever needed to do was ship it excessive, tumble round, and unintentionally accumulate a combo large enough to be unbeatable.
In distinction to final 12 months’s Monster Truck Championship, the profession modes in Metal Titans 2 are woefully superficial. The sector championship is the worst offender and actually lacks pleasure. There’s zero sense of being an up-and-coming driver; I simply mashed via a menu and moved via a laundry record of occasions. There’s no workforce administration, no truck creation or customisation, and no actual sense of how far via the season you’re, aside from a progress bar you must stop the mode to view. The barebones presentation simply shoves you from occasion to occasion till there aren’t any extra of them, after which it’s over, with zero indication you’ve truly gained something.
The stadium championship that follows is barely higher on account of the venues being greater – so the race and freestyle layouts are extra fascinating – but it surely’s nonetheless largely soulless. F1, WRC, and even Monster Truck Championship made me really feel like I used to be a part of an operation. Metal Titans 2 simply airdrops you right into a truck for a minute or so at a time. It’s simply shallow and trite in comparison with its friends.
The opposite aspect of Metal Titans 2 is its wild and over-the-top open world maps and its “World Profession”, which is themed round curated units of Monster Jam vans. The Monster Mutt vans, as an illustration, get a large fantasy canine park stuffed with large kennels and a race observe formed like a large bone, and the spooky vans get a gothic, Halloween-inspired surroundings stuffed with pumpkins, graveyards, and shipwrecks. It’s a cute contact that positively embraces the foolish personas spray-painted throughout these well-known Monster Jam vans, but it surely does make it really feel like Metal Titans 2 is making an attempt to have one foot in the true world and the opposite in a methanol-huffing fever dream – significantly for the reason that World Profession mode is padded out with loads of repeats of enviornment and stadium occasions.
Metal Titans 2 is shiny and saturated, however the flickering shadows are terrible and stuff just like the clipping, the overall lack of a watersplash impact, and spelling errors within the menus makes all of it really feel fairly half-hearted. Truck element is respectable, however developer Rainbow Studios has made the peculiar choice to utterly bury Monster Jam’s most iconic vans as distant unlocks. Which means by the point you safe vans like Grave Digger and Megalodon, Metal Titans 2 has long term out of issues to indicate you. That they’re not even accessible in fast play seems like a snub to significantly younger children who most likely simply need to freely hoon round of their favourites with out leaping via 75 hoops to take action.