Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 06/13/02 | Genre: Driving
Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction is one of those games that shows a lot of promise, but ultimately falls flat due to several huge flaws that simply cannot be overlooked. You see, in concept the game sounds great: take the intense auto-combat action of Twisted Metal: Black but put monster trucks in place of all the cars. Now that doesn't sound so bad, does it? Well, unfortunately the game fails in execution.
The graphics in the game are decent. They won't leave you awe-struck, but you could certainly find worse. The truck models are particularly impressive, and they even change to reflect the damage received in combat. The environments are pretty nice too. Some, like the ancient ruins, are totally unique for a car combat game. Things only start to look ugly once you get moving. The frame rate in this game is terrible, and at times, makes it nearly unplayable. With few trucks on screen things are only tolerable, and just barely at that. And if there are several trucks on screen at the same time, things really start to get bad. Slow down, frame skips and even the occasional see through wall all manage to make an appearance at one time or another. Suffice to say, this severely takes away from the enjoyment of the game.
The sounds in the game are very much what you'd expect: a lot of engine revving and a lot of crunching. These sound effects are actually pretty cool, and there's even an announcer that will keep you up to speed on what's taking place. Any background music definitely plays second fiddle to the truck engines, and that's probably for the best; the constant ruckus more than satisfies.
Gameplay, here we go; this where all the good points about the game come to an end. You can choose to play a season, or just jump right in with exhibition. From there, you have three game types: Death Match, Cash Grab, and Points. The games are pretty self explanatory, obliterate opponents in Death Match, snag as much moolah as possible in Cash Grab, and destroy everything in Points mode. As you run into other trucks, they'll take damage and eventually be forced out of the competition. If you're hit by an opponent, your truck takes damage, but you can replenish your health by picking up power-ups and destroying certain parts of the environment.
While cruising about, you can pick up a variety of other power-ups to help tip the scales of victory in your favor, and you'll need it too; the control in this game will have you spinning circles at the slightest tug of the analog stick. The only drawback with the power-ups is that it can be difficult to hit your target. On more than one occasion I found myself trying to turn and face another truck, but that truck was also turning. What does this amount to? Well, we were basically following each other in circles, and I had to exit the area and come back with a fresh view just to hit the target. If that sounds stupid or boring to you, then you're getting the right idea.
After dealing out a sufficient amount of damage, you'll fill your "Monster Jam" meter in the upper right hand side of the screen. When in Monster Jam mode, you're basically invulnerable and you deal out about twice as much damage. This doesn't last for very long, so it's best to make good use of it while it lasts.
The game does offer a fairly large amount of trucks to pick from, and even a few hidden ones, but overall, Monster Jam is a sorely lacking gameplay experience and doesn't even offer a good multiplayer mode. Sure it has a few mini games to try, but they only support two players. Oh well, things probably would have been too horrid had four players been able to duke it out. Please, folks, let this one pass you by.