Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 11/19/06 | Genre: Driving
n the same way that Midway’s Arctic Thunder was a spiritual successor to Hydro Thunder, Excite Truck is a spiritual successor to Excite Bike. Many gamers know and love Excite Bike, so the expectation is high to deliver an arcade style racing game that isn’t a “kart” style but not fixated on delivering realism. Excite Truck delves into this middle ground with a good portion of success in the gameplay department, but still falls short in delivering what it should have at the launch of the Wii.
Players will need to go through an extensive tutorial system, which is fine for a launch title because the new control scheme does take some getting used to, especially when trying to do anything beyond simply steering the off-road vehicle of your choice. Holding the remote on its side, players use the 1 and 2 buttons as gas and brake, with the D-pad triggering the turbo boost. In the air pitch is controlled by tilting the remote up or down, and landing on all four wheels will result in a speed boost. As a matter of fact, hitting the D-pad for turbo just as the vehicle launches into the air will result in greater boost.
This is, of course, just the top of the list for what is in store when playing Excite Truck. There are tricks and stunts to pull off, as well as smashing into other vehicles. Icons on the course will provide a boost through a tree covered shortcut or even alter the terrain to provide a jump. There will be times when controlling the trucks will be… difficult, but overall the remote performs as expected.
Instead of simply coming in first to unlock the next course, players need to accumulate a certain number of stars. Coming in first will naturally provide the player with a large amount, more than say coming in second or third. This is, however, not going to be nearly enough. Players will need to get some big air, perform drifts, smash into other trucks and more in order to accumulate enough stars to progress. This really helps to keep the … pardon the pun… excitement level high, and is serves to strike that middle ground between arcade action and realism.
Furthering that balance is the technical aspects – graphics and audio. Certainly not in competition with PS3 or Xbox 360 racing games, Excite Truck looks as good as one might expect on the Wii. Certainly in a couple of years we’ll be provided with a racing game with a draw-in distance of “the horizon” but this will do for now. Enough details on the trees let you know that they are vegetation and the rest of the environment goes by in a blur to the point where it doesn’t need to be that greatly detailed. There’s plenty of vehicular roar and the music is decent if a bit over the top. At least you can play MP3s. All in all a serviceable title.
Where Excite Truck falls short is the multiplayer. As a launch title for a system that is supposed to bring in new people to videogames, and to help sell the console that is supposed to be about people playing together there isn’t a lot on offer. The only multiplayer is a two-player split screen. Four players is too much apparently and going online is out of the question. Not a great system seller in this regard.
Excite Truck does offer a couple of extra modes, much what would be expected. Challenge Mode give players various tasks to accomplish.
Aaaand… that’s it. Yes, it’s fun to play, but for a title that should be showing off what this new console is capable of, or even as a game that emphasizes the company’s philosophy of inclusion, Excite Truck falls way short of the finish line.