Monster Truck Championship
Release date: 11th March 2021
Approximate size : 7.6GB
Age Rating: PEGI 3
Reviewed on: Xbox Series X
Monster Truck Championship was released late in 2020 on Xbox One, and we gave it a respectable 7.1/10 in our full review, but can the new release, optimised for the Xbox Series X|S consoles improve on the formula and with no free upgrade to existing owners, is it worth the extra money.
There’s also the added competition from the recently released Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 (Scoring 8/10 in our review).
Between the two versions of Monstger Truck Championship on Xbox One and Series X|S, there’s very little differences, with the main addition being native 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, so for the rest of this review, we’ll be comparing Monster Truck Championship on the Series X|S to the non-optimised version as well as Monster Jam Steel Titans 1 and the recently released Steel Titans 2.
Firstly, we’ll take a look at overall game modes, like the original release, Monster Truck Championship on the Series X|S features Career, Quick Play and Multiplayer racing, the career is split up via events, which is a common theme in racing games, but there’s no free-roam aspect like we saw in Steel Titans.
There’s very little noticeably different in these modes at first glance, there’s the resolution bump which wasn’t as clear as i’d hoped and shadows are vastly improved, the HDR performance seems to have received a slight bump, with the difference betwen lights and darks a little more noticeable, it’s certainly a graphical improvement, but not to the standards I would have hoped for, and Steel Titans 2 (Not optimised for Series X|S) managed to look better in many instances.
So it’s mostly a positive shift to the new generation of consoles except for the fact that progression does not carry over, so after fully completeling the career back in December, I was thrown back to square one.
This does mean there’s a whole fresh set of achievements on offer, but it’s little reassurance to fans moving from the original release when the only real highlight is the slight graphial boost.
Gameplay is the same tight controls and well balanced trucks that we saw in the Xbox One release, there’s benefits over Steel Titans 1 and 2, and while Steel Titans 2 did improve on it’s predecessor, many will prefer the more gorunded approach offered by Monster Truck Championship.
The looser controls on Steel titans, and bouncier suspension does make tumbles, flips, sumersaults and freestyle events more enjoyable, but for the racing aspect of Monster Trucks, I find MTC the better offering.
This is further outlined with the Artificial intelligence, on Steel Titans 2, one of the few negatives was the pre-defined racing line other trucks would take, they’d barely faulter and the slightest mistake (common with the bouncy trucks) would send you to the back of the queue struggling to catch up.
This wasn’t a major issue as coming 2nd or 3rd was counter-acted by the same truck rarely winning consecutive races, but it did kill the enjoyment a little.
On Monster Truck Championship, the AI is just as crazy as I am around the corners, you’ll often see them colliding with each other, or othershooting the bend and hurtling into the protective barriers, it makes the whole racing experience more interesting, and it’s just a shame that same enjoyment isn’t seen as much across other modes.
It’s fairly dissapointing to see so little variation between the Xbox One release and this new Series X|S version, and with 4K/60 the only real addition, it does feel more like publishers Nacon have intentionally pushed the Series X|S version now to regain some of the spotlight from Steel Titans 2 (released little over a week ago).
That’s not to say MTC on the Series X|S is bad in anyway, because it’s certainly a better looking experience than the Xbox One version, but it’s not as good as Steel Titans 2. It doesn’t matter how many time syou race around, where you pull wheelies or doughnuts, the ground rarely looks any different, while over on Steel TItans 2, giant tracks are left, that will fill with water and risk interupting your handling (similar to how the early FlatOut games did).
LEFT : Monster Truck Championship – RIGHT : Monster Truck Championship Series X|S
For Value, it’s really a tough call, both Steel Titans 2 and Monster Truck Championship sit around the £35 mark, which I feel represents fair value,
It’s understandable that some people will find the handling on Steel TItans awful, which means MTC will be a far better choice as it’s certianly the better racing experience, however Steel Titans 2 does provide more longevity with the open world and various secrets hidden within.
On Monster Truck Championship, it’s a much more fun and fair race, without the randomness of every bump putting the fate of your race in the hands of the RNG gods.
The other aspect is back to the Xbox One version, so far we haven’t been made aware if the Series X|S version is a free upgrade, or if users will be expected to pay again, if this does come as a free “Smart Delivery” style update, then there’s no doubt that this is an improvement on the non-optimised release, however if fans are expected to pay again, there’s certainly not the improvement to warrant a second purchase.
However those who skipped Monster Truck Championship, even if they own Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, will find MTC offers more than enough to make owning both franchises well worth the price.
The easiest way to explain the differences between Monster Truck Championship and Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 is the way they handle.
If you want tight, well controlled racing, with the better AI then Monster Truck Championship is the better game.
If you want overall long-term appeal, more variety and the licensed familiarity of the Monster Jam trucks, then Steel Titans provides more at the expense of often awkward controls and inferior AI, but I’m happy to play both titles, and feel there’s enough differences to warrant other gamers doing the same.