Path of Destruction’s only purpose is to further the marketing efforts of the live event. Players of this game based tie-in will find nothing more than a basic racer flawed with terrible controls and low presentation values.
Activision was kind enough to send me to a local Monster Jam event so I can compare the real thing with the official game. Being that this was my first monster truck event, I was not quite sure what to expect. If anything, I learned that live monster trucks are deafening loud, give off smelly fumes, but sell out every seat in the house. But the more important lesson I learned was how much marketing is directly involved with the live event. For a two hour show, there was only a legit 20-25 minutes of actual entertainment. The hour and a half of dead time was nothing more than a ploy to get parents to buy monster truck propaganda for their kids such as program guides and cotton candy truck hats. When the announcer takes 15 minutes to give away a $10 monster truck toy by having the stadium scream “Monster Jam” as loud as possible, and when attendees are forced to watch a three minute Advanced Auto Parts commercial on the jumbotron before and after any actual entertainment, I cannot help but feel cheated and used as a consumer. I came to this event to watch big trucks run over little trucks in hopes of seeing something get destroyed, not to be bantered with constant “there is plenty of time to purchase your merchandise” requests during every intermission.
With this said, the game is a perfect connection to the disappointing live event; uninformative tutorials, loose controls, low res textures, and basic gameplay modes provide little more than frustration and boredom. There is only local 2-player support too; no online play.
Career mode is the meat of the game, offering players experience points to level up and a chance to unlock expected things like new stadiums and trucks. The player has the option of creating a custom monster truck, but the truck editor is cumbersome and lacks significant features. Each truck is rated in four different categories ranging from power to handling, but I couldn’t notice any difference between vehicles other than the cosmetic changes. And before you start an event, the player must select one of three presets: piston popper, crowd pleaser, and throttle out. Each one of these presets is designed to increase a certain aspect of the truck like handling or increasing trick ability, but just like the truck’s initial stat categories, there really is no noticeable difference.
Path of Destruction features all the modes you would expect: racing modes and trick modes. Unfortunately, the racing modes feature lame computer controlled AI and the trick modes are beyond frustrating. Controlling each truck requires a steep learning curve as the front and back tires are controlled independently via both analog sticks. Without mastering this strange control style, expect to flip over and land on your side often. There is a technique called the “big save” which is supposed to pop you back upright, but I was only able to get it to work a few times. If you cannot fix yourself, you must use the respawn feature which costs a fair amount of experience points.
Freestyle events are probably the worst, and this is unfortunate because they probably should be the most entertaining. Here, the goal is to perform as many tricks as possible before time runs out, similar to any Tony Hawk game. But since the game lacks a detailed tutorial, the only trick I was able to perform consistently was the “oops, I fell on my side and cannot get up.” In order to complete these freestyle missions, the player must reach a certain point total. After several attempts, I was not even close to snatching the bronze. Why would anyone want to struggle like this?
The presentation in Monster Jam is lacking and retains the feeling of a budget title. The physics could have been better, there is a lot of clipping, and textures are low res especially in the environment. The game’s audio also feels a bit tacked on as it fails to capture the wild roar of the engines and bad commentary is annoyingly thrown at the player.
Monster Jam: Path of Destruction is a basic racing game that only die-hard fans might appreciate. Because this is a niche racing title that lacks polish and presentation, expect to lose interest quickly and become frustrated with the floaty controls and lack of options and online play. Experiencing Monster Jam in person is more enjoyable, but just expect to be exposed to more pop-up advertisements than a porn site.
Not As Good As: going to any other sporting event
Also Try: jumping a remote controlled monster truck off a cliff
Wait For It: Monster Jam Vs SmackDown
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