IGN Review of Monster Jam: Urban Assault
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! You shouldn't play Monster Jam: Urban Assault on Sunday, or any day of the week really. While this monster truck simulation isn't the worst entry in the destructive driving genre, there are better games out there.
Still reading? Really? Wow, you must really like monster trucks if you've gotten this far. If so, you might have played previous Monster Jams. New to this game, as the subtitle highlights, are urban-themed levels. You can now race and crash through various generic city streets in addition to monster stadiums.
The racing in the game offers a couple of different modes, but the experience is pretty standard at its core. Typical races have you driving around a lap three times while fending off three other racers. Those looking for fancy Burnout-like power-sliding maneuvers will be severely disappointed here. However, like the Burnout series, you can obtain boost juice by either crashing into things or by pulling off high-flying stunts. For the most part, the cars handle decently, but sometimes coming off of an awkward jump makes the camera shift around and this makes things a little disorienting.
However, the worst part about the racing is its level design. Even though most race tracks are narrow and linear, with the occasional minor shortcut strewn about, there are some confusing layouts. Even with the assistance of course arrows, you will probably run into awkwardly placed buildings or structures. When you do hit objects that can't be smashed, your vehicle may spin backwards and face the wrong direction. Urban Assault isn't the only racing game with this problem, but it is annoying nonetheless.
Urban Assaults adds one interesting race mode called "Eliminator." This mode eliminates the lagging racer after each lap. Therefore, the last truck standing wins. Another fairly unique racing mode is "Head to Head". In Head to Head, a pair of cars race backwards while the other pair races forwards. What seems like a pretty interesting mode causes more headaches than joy. There are a lot of linear, narrow alleyways in Urban Assault, and as a result, frustrating pileups occur.
While the racing aspect of Urban Assault isn't great, it's but a mere fraction of the game. This monster truck sim lets you participate in "Devastator" events, which asks you to wreak as much havoc as you can in an open environment. While this mode can be fun, you can easily abuse this mode by having your truck sit on top of a destructible object.
In addition to these destructive modes, Urban Assault offers Tony Hawk-styled trick events. The game will toss you into an environment with plenty of slopes and ramps to satiate your trick-loving desire. There are also some zany stunt events in Urban Assault. One mode treats your truck like a bowling ball, making a single destructive jump count for all of its worth. Another mode has your truck hurling through the air into a giant Skee ball contraption. These modes are kind of shallow, and games like FlatOut have done them much better.
Visually this game looks low-budget and cheap. It doesn't look much better than a first generation PS2 game. The textures look washed out and the trucks look like colorful toys. In addition, the game's physics don't give the cars a good sense of weight. This is extremely evident when you're flying through the air. Imagine a kid swinging his paper airplane around in hand and you'll begin to catch my drift. There are also some minor frame rate dips when there's a lot on screen. If that weren't enough, you've got your standard invisible walls to help muck things up.
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