Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Developer: Rainbow Studios
Release Date: 2nd March 2021
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Size : 14.7 GB
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Screenshots: Captured on Xbox Series X
Monster Jam returns in Steel Titans 2, bringing more trucks than ever before, but can Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 reclaim the crown from Monster Truck Championship released last October.
I’ve always enjoyed a good Monster Trucks game, but unfortunately, we haven’t had that many of them, the original Monster Jam Steel Titans was fairly good, but it all felt a little too light and arcade-like and while Monster Truck Championship was a better game overall there was still a lot of room for improvement.
With Steel Titans 2, improvements are everywhere from 5 open-world areas, a multitude of events and stadiums as well as an impressive 38 trucks, all licensed and well known to fans of Monster Jam.
As soon as you start up Steel Titans 2 these improvements are easily noticeable, graphically there’s been an impressive jump and controls feel a lot tighter, there’s also an impressive difference between trucks and while they will all upgrade and improve the longer you use them, I found other differences such as handling on turns and how well they grounded after catching some air.
With such a wide roster of trucks, you won’t want to be sticking with the two tutorial trucks for long and before you know it, you’ll start to unlock the licensed trucks many will have heard of, such as Blue Thunder, Monster Mutt, Max-D and Grave Digger. Over 20 of the trucks are locked behind chapters, with each chapter featuring a variety of modes such as races, freestyle events or destruction modes, with each chapter you complete you’ll unlock another truck and then there are other special tasks that continue to reward trucks the further you progress.
While there’s a rogue-like nature to the trucks, with experience building to make the truck you’ve just used gradually better, there’s also plenty of reason to experiment. As mentioned earlier there are still differences between trucks, even when they’re at a similar level, and each truck has it’s own special unlock hidden in the open world.
The open-world is split into five sections, which open up the further you progress, around these areas you’ll find special actions which play an audible cue and place a black box on your mini-map, returning to this area with the correct truck will open up the usually simple challenge, and when you find/smash the red token, you’ve completed that task.
sometimes these are merely a case of being in the area, such as the Ice-Cream Man watching a cascade of giant Ice-Cream scoops falling from the sky, but others, such as the Monster Mutt Poodle, require a specific jump to hit the token which I managed to miss high, wide and short before finally hitting it, overall these add reason to explore the open worlds, and encourage you to at least give a quick trial to each new truck you unlock.
While working through the chapters, you’ll find most have a handful of events, and these offer a good variety, I never found myself repeating the same thing too often, and you’ll usually have at least one arena-based race, and open-world event and a freestyle event within each group. These are mostly enjoyable, however, the race’s do start to showcase one of the few weaknesses in Steel Titans 2.
Arena events aren’t too bad at all, especially those that have trucks heading opposite directions as the inevitable collisions keep you on your toes and avoiding danger, but some of the open-world races outline a massive AI weakness, where all the trucks seem to follow the exact same route. This isn’t an issue when you can cut a few corners and hit the checkpoint before they’ve made the half-way point, but on some, you’re forced to follow a more specific path and if you lose your balance and topple over, you might as well hit reset, because these on-rails AI rarely make a mistake if someone isn’t driving directly into them.
It forces you to take your time, or play risk and reward as you overshoot a corner hoping to remain upright, but it just feels a little unfair at times. However, within these mini-series, you can suffer a poor finish and still come out on top overall.
Graphically, I’ve been really impressed with Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2, we know games are usually showcased with the best possible screenshots, which are near impossible to replicate, but the screenshots accompanying this review were all captured either in-game via the simple photo mode found in the pause menu, it’s not the most feature-packed mode, with only simple rotation and zoom controls, but the results are impressive.
Another area that impressed me where the tire tracks left behind, head through water and the approaching tracks you leave will fill with water, it’s only really cosmetic, but it’s great attention to details.
Audio is problem-free, the balance between engines, surroundings and music is all well done and nothing irritates at all, the trucks all sound realistic enough, but it’s not thrown in your face, it’s relatively discreet, and feels more rewarding for being so.
We’re looking at dozens of hours for full completion, especially if you want to track down every last truck and their world secrets. The open-world races against AI can be a little irritating, but I found that an easy hurdle to overcome as the default medium difficulty otherwise felt fair, online play will mostly depend on how well the game is received, but with 6-player online races, plenty of events to explore and more than enough trucks on offer, I can imagine Steel Titans 2 keeping a pretty stable following from Monster Truck fans and there’s enough quality at a great price to appeal to a wider audience.
Monster Jam: Steel Titans 2 improves on its predecessor in just about every way possible and is easily the most enjoyable Monster Truck game I’ve played.