Mayhem May Be Stretching Things

To say that Monster Trucks Mayhem for the Wii is a game simply about monster trucks underestimates the breadth and depth of the game. It is also a game about monster vans, monster cop cars, monster taxis and an unparalleled amount of exploding trees.  While it may be evident that subtlety is not the main draw of  Monster Trucks Mayhem, it does serve a certain purpose as a 20 dollar racing game where everything can blow up, and for the most part, it succeeds at this.

Monster Trucks Mayhem is split into two different types of gameplay, with half of the game being races and the other half being a set of  Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater-esque challenges. In the racing levels, the game controls and plays well. The Wii Wheel is responsive and easy to use, and slamming into other trucks gives players the impression that they’re really controlling a monster truck rather than a flimsy go-kart. Most of the tracks are a bit boring, without many new ideas or interesting shortcuts. This, however, makes the good tracks, such as a course built on top of buildings, stand out as creative and fun to race on.

In the challenge levels, the track designs that were well-designed for racing become clunky and frustrating. Each track has its own timed challenge, such as destroying a certain number of objects or keeping other trucks away from a marked point on the screen. In order to complete these, absolute perfection is required. In later levels, one wobbly tire off of a predetermined path can doom you to failure, making it impossible to complete your goal within the tight time limit. This leads to a sense of satisfaction upon completion of a challenge, but contrasts a little too heavily with the easy to complete racing levels.

Another factor that adds unnecessary difficulty to Monster Trucks Mayhem is the graphics. Most of the graphics are serviceable, though they’re a little below the mark set by Playstation 2 games, and they make it easy to tell the different cars and locations apart from one another. To say that a few of the tracks are covered in so much fog that less prestigious Nintendo 64 games have crystal clear graphics in comparison, however, isn’t as unfair a statement as it sounds. Weather effects such as blizzards and sandstorms are used to blur the game with blobs of color rather than executed in such a way that you instantly realize what’s happening. Still, this is only a problem on a limited number of the tracks, meaning that it doesn’t cause a major disruption to the game as a whole.

The sound in this game is perhaps the strangest part of the whole package. Every race is scored with techno music, which isn’t bad and does make sense in certain games, but seems strange in a game about smashing things with monster trucks.  This clash between sound and subject matter is helped by the fact that the accurate sound of the trucks’ engines is nearly always drowning out the music, heightening the game’s monster truck atmosphere.

Although there are several issues with Monster Trucks Mayhem, it will likely be worth its 20 dollar price tag for some. Smashing into things and watching them explode is a timeless method of stress relief, and with other people in the room, the game’s constant text based praise of your destructive abilities can be very entertaining. Finishing all of the races and challenges also unlocks a mirrored version of each track, allowing for some amount of replay value. It is difficult to ignore the game’s incredibly short duration, though, with the entire thing being done in around two hours, and the lack of a multiplayer mode may be fatal for some.

If you’re interested in a game where monster trucks drive on top of things while there’s a lot of loud noises and fire, then Monster Trucks Mayhem will likely be the perfect game for you. If not, then you probably will not have a lot of fun with it. It is difficult to deny that Monster Trucks Mayhem has a very precise purpose and audience in mind while playing it, watching others play it, or even while looking at the box, but it is essentially successful at what it sets out to do.

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