Monster Jam Steel Titans review for Xbox One, PS4

Platform: Xbox One
Also on: PC, PS4
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: No

The last time I cared about — or even thought about — monster trucks, I was probably around 6 years old. I have vague memories of watching Big Foot battle Grave Digger on TV, as they drove around a stadium floor crushing cars and…doing whatever else it is that monster trucks do. Since I was about 6 and had barely any other frame of reference, it seemed like the coolest thing in the world.

I don?t remember what it was that appealed to me so much back then, but it?s entirely possible that 6-year-old me would have been wowed by Monster Jam Steel Titans. I mean, you take control of your own monster truck. What?s not to like?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Monster Jam Steel Titans is one of the most boring games I?ve played in awhile. Its main attraction is a career mode, which essentially consists of short races and the occasional ?freestyle? event. Races and freestyles are drastically different — one is, obviously, a race against other monster trucks, while freestyles are point-centric events where you see how many tricks you can pull off — but within those two groupings, there?s a whole lot of repetitiveness.

This is because the trucks here control like garbage, and the game has some of the wonkiest physics I?ve ever seen. The slightest touch will send your truck careening wildly out of control, and it?s easier to make them spin around in circles than it is to have them drive in a straight line.

As you can imagine, this botches both of the game?s two main modes, albeit in very different ways. Races are no fun when your truck could go haywire at any moment, and going fast is one of the things that sets them off. The rubber-banding here is also kind of crazy, which means that you can never speed up, or else you?ll have to worry about hitting a bump the wrong way and ricocheting back into last place.

Conversely, if races are too frustrating to be enjoyable, the freestyle modes are ridiculously easy, because Monster Jam Steel Titans takes place in a world where giant trucks can pull off gravity-defying backflips, and then spin around on their sides for a few minutes at a time, and then pop back up on their four wheels like it was nothing. Making matters worse, you can pull all this off with a minimum of effort on your part: just hold down the gas and press hard in one direction, and the game?s insane physics do the rest.

On some level, I guess, I could see Monster Jam Steel Titans being kind of fun. After all, who doesn?t love wonky physics? At the very least, it makes for the kind of game that?d probably be fun to watch on YouTube or Twitch. But if you?re the one paying out money and playing it yourself then don?t bother, because then all those monster trucks being flipped over a million times by stiff breezes and wayward pebbles suddenly become less silly and charming, and more frustratingly bad.

THQ Nordic provided us with a Monster Jam Steel Titans Xbox One code for review purposes.

Grade: C-