It’s Trials 2, Jim, but not as we know it.
Yes, after the success of their last physics-driven wheelathon, Redlynx has peddled out another one, this time revolving around monster trucks.
The formula for Trials is still there in it’s entirety. Set on a linear plane in a 3D environment, players race their beast across the level, dodging and destroying obstacles, launching themselves across crazy gaps and attempting to clear the finish line in a record-breaking time.
Where Trials 2 was all about skill and timing and resulted in many smashed keyboards through frustration, Monster Trucks Nitro is more about smashing your way through the level and obstacles are fairly easier to traverse. Skill, for the most part, has been replaced with speed and destroying stuff. Which, being honest, is what I want in a game.
No longer can players die from tipping upside-down, either. A wonky monster truck will lie on it’s top for a couple of seconds before being sprang back up into racing position. Of course, it wastes valuable time so it’s not recommended, but it all adds to making the game more casual-gamer friendly.
See, that’s the thing – while Trials 2 was generally aimed at everyone to begin with, then reeled in the more hardcore players with later, ridiculously difficult stages, Monster Trucks Nitro never really gets that hard. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself restarting a good number of times on certain tracks towards the end, but at no point did I feel the anger (and subsequent joy) that Trials made me feel. MTN has definitely lowed the difficulty bar.
Now would be a good time to mention that ‘Nitro’ tag. Nitro canisters are dotted around some of the levels and, once picked up, provide a short burst of speed with the squeeze of the Ctrl button. There’s some pretty awesome jumps to be seen provided by these boosts, with plenty of air and crazy landings. A welcome addition, it works very well and allows for extreme speed/destroying which, as I mentioned, I do love a bit of.
There’s plenty of levels to keep you occupied and getting all those gold medals is an extremely tricky job. I’m not the kind of person who does that whole ‘play the game through again but better this time’ scenario, but for those who do go for a bit of that, it’s all good.
It has to be said, too, that it is generally a very nice looking game. Backdrops are lush and detailed, while engines and nitro effects look the part. And, of course, being a Miniclips game, all the menus are very shiny and round. The sound is what you’d expect – engines roaring, explosions… exploding. The usual. The music, however, it rather dull and sounded extremely mediocre. From an indie game like this, I’d expect more.
What you’re looking at here is a fun little physics-based time-trial racer which is good fun for the most part, but just seems to be missing some kind of edge. It’s possibly a bit harsh to say it, but the flash version of Monster Trucks Nitro is easily as fun as this 3D remake – maybe even more so. In fact this version feels like it could quite easily be a free flash game… especially with that name.
If you’re a big fan of Trials 2, you’ll probably find enough here to keep you satisfied, but that will most likely be coupled with a slight sense of disappointment. For everyone else, just decide how much you like speed, monster trucks and blowing stuff up and make your decision off that.
Verdict: A fun, if rather easy, time-trial-em-up racer. There’s plenty to be seen here and it all looks very nice, but it’s all pretty much been done before.