Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction Review

Monster Jam: Maximum Destruction is a vehicular combat game featuring the popular jacked-up, car-crushing monster trucks.  If you are a fan of the 'sport', then you'll appreciate that Monster Jam has licensed over 30 famous trucks including Grave Digger, Bulldozer, and Predator.  The trucks themselves look great, with nice textures and lighting effects.

Grave DiggerThe game features three major modes of play, but the main emphasis is on ramming and destroying other trucks in arena-style settings.  There are exhibition and season modes, as well as a collection of minigames.  Furthermore, matches in the exhibition and season modes are played in one of three game styles: death match, cash grab, and points.  Death match is won by being the last surviving truck, cash grab emphasizes grabbing power-ups (although the best way to win is to eliminate the competition), and points is played by demolishing as much of the game environment as possible (again, the most points come from destroying trucks, so points mode still plays like a destruction derby).

When playing in exhibition mode, the first step is to select a truck.  Each truck is rated in four categories, horse power, acceleration, cornering, and traction, but in reality they all handle pretty much the same way, so you'll just end up picking the one whose paint job you like the most.  Next, there are eight arenas to choose from, each built on a different theme including a military base, a snow-covered village, and the Las Vegas strip.  Once a place of combat is chosen, the match begins.

Play begins with all trucks in the arena's main area, with the number of other trucks depending on the level of difficulty selected.  To damage the other trucks you must ram into them, preferably head-on as this will cause no damage to your truck.  When the damage bar for a truck reaches zero, the truck is destroyed and eliminated from the game.

The arenas all come with cars and other objects for you to drive over and smash between run-ins with the other trucks.  Each arena also features sub-areas that are opened by destroying walls or gates in the main arena.  The sub-areas feature additional rooms to battle it out and are usually stocked with various power-ups such as repair wrenches, cash bonuses, and weapons which can be used to deal out some additional damage to your opponents. 

At this point it sounds like the game has the potential to be a lot of fun, but unfortunately it falls short for several reasons.  The first problem is the AI of the other trucks.  When in the main area of the arenas, the trucks are reasonably good opponents, although they often drive themselves into corners, making them easy targets for your truck.  When the sub-areas are opened up, though, things really deteriorate.  The other trucks rarely take any of the power-ups, and when they do it seems that they do so by accident.  They also have trouble navigating after they leave the circular confines of the main area, and trucks can be observed going in circles or bashing themselves into walls (good thing for them that smashing into walls or anything else does not damage trucks in the game).  To make matters worse, you'll often get stuck trying to track down the last remaining truck in a death match.  You'll go from one sub-area to the next looking for a truck that seems to have forgotten that a death match is on and is making no effort whatsoever to locate you.  The AI is rarely smart enough to open sub-areas and when it does so it is probably by accident, so avoiding opening these areas yourself is one way to keep all the trucks close by.