I like cars and trucks, and I have ever since I was a little girl. More specifically, I love racing cars and trucks. Ever since I could hold a controller I’ve tried every racing game I could get my little paws on, and that includes offroad titles and motocross titles and well, just about any sort of racing you can imagine. This past year, my luck with racing games has turned and it seemed like most of the games I was so eager to check out were disappointing in some way–graphically, mechanically, or both at once. Nevertheless, I jumped at the chance to check out Monster Truck Championship. Partially because it was a new game to try out on PS5, and partially because I’ve never raced monster trucks in any racing game I’ve picked up before, unless you count Hammerhead from Twisted Metal (which would be a stretch.)
Monster Truck Racing will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s tried modern racing games. You’ll find the standard career mode and quick play, a garage for tuning and pimping your ride, and a slate of team members you can hire and sponsors you can sign on with, once you’ve managed to make a little progress in your career.
I don’t know what I expected, but driving monster trucks is more difficult than you’d think when you’re casually shoving popcorn in your mouth and watching them wreak havoc on a row of cars. You’ll need to control the front and back wheels independently and keep them from coming up off their massive, chunky wheels and landing you on your back like a helpless turtle, unable to be righted. It takes some practice to even get good enough to start at the bottom rungs of the racing scene. This can be problematic if it’s overly frustrating, or if controls seem too unpredictable, but Monster Truck Racing not only sets the expectation that it’s going to take some time to ace it in its very ample tutorial, but also manages to keep its controls consistent, while still allowing for variations among machines.
While the tutorial does cover much of what you’ll need to know to go pro as a monster truck driver, I do wish it would have covered the types of races you’ll encounter as well as driving tips and tricks. Going in blind to some of the events, like the drag race, had me thinking I’d be going for speed on a straightaway only to find out I’d actually need to navigate some hellish turns without flipping over and before my opponent sailed by me.
Other than Drag mode, there’s Race mode, which is what it sounds like, as well as Freestyle, where tricks reign, and its similar but more smashy cousin, the Destruction event. Each career event is made up of several of these smaller events, and you’ll progress (and earn cash for those sweet upgrades) by earning enough points in each one.
Luckily for those of us who aren’t great out of the gates, not only can you restart races without losing your progress in the entire career event, you can tune between races, and you’ll be able to unlock new career events even if you don’t come out on top when the last one is done.
In addition to being able to tune between races, one other amazing thing about Monster Truck Championship’s tuning is that it’s extremely well explained for the layperson, something I don’t always find true of other racing games. Monster Truck Racing goes out of its way to tell you what the effects of each tweak you can make will be in plain English, so you don’t have to have any inherent knowledge of how a car works to be able to adjust it to make it work for you, and I honestly wish more racing games made the effort to do this.
Whether or not you’re a particularly skilled driver, driving monster trucks in Monster Truck Championship is a blast. Terrain changes can easily be felt with the PS5 contoller’s rumble assisting in immersion, and the tires make a sincerely satisfying amount of road noise as you cruise over the course or your opponents. The tracks and your trucks are both gorgeous, and the game runs like butter on the PS5, with quick load times, fluid menus and a fantastic feel.
I found nearly nothing to complain about with Monster Truck Racing, save for the fact that I didn’t have time to go back and ace every single event in every single series, or the small criticism that while appropriate for the genre, the soundtrack isn’t particularly heartpumping, and overall, not only was Monster Truck Championship gorgeous on PS5, it ran great and kept me coming back for more and more mayhem, destruction and yes, even drag racing.
Monster Truck Championship is available on PS5 today.
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