FutureFive New Zealand logo
Consumer technology news from the future
Story image

Game review: Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 (PC)

By Darren Price
Tue 20 Apr 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Off-road veterans Rainbow Studios have been providing me with thrills and spills right back to 1998’s original Motocross Madness. In recent years they’ve pitting motocross bikes against quads in the MX vs ATV series. The developer has since moved on and invites players into the over-the-top world of monster trucks.

I’m familiar with racing off-road in virtual rally cars and motorbikes, but huge trucks with oversized tyres in a new one for me. The truck handling in Steel Titans 2 is very interesting and took some getting used to. The game uses both the left and right thumbsticks to steer the front and rear wheels, independently. This gives you a massive amount of steering control as well as enabling tighter turns. It also makes it very easy to flip the truck if you are going too fast.

The game is set across five huge environments that are unlocked through the course of the single-player campaign. The campaign consists of a series of chapters that feature a mix of event types. The events range from stadium-based races and monster truck stunt antics to waypoint and circuit races across the game’s outdoor environments. 

Freestyle stunt events in the arena require players to get as many points as possible jumping, rolling, and flipping their trucks. Some events add destructible objects for extra points whilst others require only certain types of stunts to be performed. There are also indoor head-to-head races and knockouts.  

The outdoor areas range from an open parkland theme to a spooky nightmare- there’s even a dog-inspired area. The areas start reasonably true-to-life but then start to take a turn towards the absurd. I’ll go into this more a little later, but aside from the Mario Kart elements in the actual races, the environments are very well designed. They even feature deformable terrain that leaves proper tracks and marks as the trucks slide through the mud.

Outdoor events consist of circuit races and checkpoint-to-checkpoint races. Some events divide the participants into two groups and have them going in opposite directions for a bit of extra carnage. 

Each area is paired with a series of similarly themed unlockable trucks. As players progress through the chapters these themed trucks unlock, as do the various events for casual play. The game can be played in a single-player career mode, local split-screen, and online. It’s nice to see local multiplayer, making the game great for some couch tournaments.

Steel Titans 2 wasn’t a game that I was immediately enamoured by. The graphics are passable, propped up by the detail in the monster truck models and the deformation of the ground as the trucks churn it up.

The vehicles drive, unlike anything that I’ve ever driven in a game before. The rear-wheel steer took a little while to get adjusted to. Like motocross, monster trucks need a delicate had to avoid losing control. Once I’d got a handle on this discipline and resisted the desire to open the machine up, the truck became a pleasure to drive. The front axle is enough to traverse most environments, but the rear-wheel steering is very handy for negotiating tight turns and great for donuts as well!

The game tries hard to translate the spectacle of real-life monster truck events but, instead of playing it straight like 2K does with its WWE games, Steel Titans 2 has one foot in Mario Kart territory. This semi-cartoonish approach didn’t sit well with me, reducing what could be a realistic monster truck simulation into an arcade game. It’s a shame, as the physics are good and the trucks are very challenging to drive (in a good way). But the powerups and fantasy elements in the outdoor environments betray a series that doesn’t know what it wants to be. 

Monster Jam Steel Titans 2 offers some interesting racing across some great outdoor environments as well as some less interesting arena events. The cartoonish aspects contradict the effort put into bringing these huge trucks to life. The result is a game with an identity crisis that doesn’t seem to respect its subject matter as it should. Fans of the real-life Monster Jam trucks may get more of this game than I did, even though I did enjoy the truck handling and challenge of the cross-country races.

Verdict: 6.5/10

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Mobility
Tyson Beckford partners with Element Case on new AppleWatch band
Celebrity Tyson Beckford has collaborated with STM Brands' Element Case brand to create a rugged new accessory.
Story image
Wireless Nation
Wireless Nation, N4L provide 4G network to remote NZ schools
Wireless Nation and Network for Learning (N4L) have rolled out the Rural Connectivity Group’s (RCG) new 4G network to better connect three Chatham Islands schools.
Story image
First Table
First Table set to revive restaurant commerce in NZ with platform launch
A new restaurant booking platform has launched in New Zealand, giving Kiwi diners the opportunity to save and book at a variety of restaurants around the country.
Story image
Apple
Apple previews new features for users with disabilities
Apple says new software features that offer users with disabilities new tools for navigation, health and communication, are set to come out later this year.
Story image
Jabra
Jabra reveals its latest portable headset Engage 55
Jabra has launched the Engage 55, the newest product in Jabra's Engage series designed for ultimate call security and quality.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft backing Māori and Pacific wāhine in tech industry
A new initiative focused on getting Māori and Pacific wāhine into the tech industry and backed by Microsoft, NZTech and the government is calling for tech companies to get involved.
Story image
Gaming
Mastercard users can now use rewards points in gaming
Mastercard has launched Mastercard Gamer Xchange (MGX), allowing APAC consumers to convert their rewards points into gaming currency.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: GoPro Hero 10
I have a long history with GoPro; I still remember getting my first camera when I was 16, using it to film Parkour and the day I lost it down a dingey crag. 
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Intel Core i7-12700 CPU
Intel’s middle-of-the-road 12th generation Core i7-12700 offers performance at a lower price than the pricey Core i9 for users that are not fussed by overclocking.
Story image
D-Link
D-Link launches new G415 Smart Router as part of EAGLE PRO AI range
D-Link A/NZ has announced the launch of its new G415 AX1500 4G Smart Router as part of the new EAGLE PRO AI Series.
Story image
i-PRO
i-Pro announces newest solutions as rebranded enterprise
i-PRO APAC Oceania has introduced its newest high-resolution mid-range cameras, with combined edge AI analytics and resolutions of up to 4K.
Story image
Sustainability
The AI Forum helps NZ pave the way with AI sustainability practices
Non-profit organisation The AI Forum is helping Kiwis learn about addressing climate change issues through the use of AI technology.
Story image
E-waste
NZ’s first and only e-waste sorting machine launched
Computer Recycling launches e-waste shredder and MSS optical sorting machine BLUBOX, which is able to sort out a tonne of e-waste per hour
Story image
Logitech
Logitech releases new mouse with ergonomic and sustainable focus
Logitech has announced the Logitech Signature M650 Mouse and the Signature M650 for Business Wireless Mouse, both with new ergonomic features and capabilities.
Story image
Wireless
Sony to bring new 1000X series WH-1000XM5 headphones to the market
Sony has announced the newest edition of its award-winning wireless headphones, with the 1000X series WH-1000XM5 noise-cancelling model.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Significant spike in consumer fraud, new report finds
Reported cases of consumer fraud more than tripled in the years 2020-2021 from prior years, according to a new report by Accenture.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Signature Edition
In almost every respect it works like a book, apart from the fact that it weighs next to nothing, fits in my hand perfectly, and is soothing on my eyes.
Story image
Collaboration
TikTok launches community-inspired effect capability
TikTok has announced the launch of its Effect House feature to allow its users to create and share Community Effects.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: The A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console
Retro Games, the UK outfit responsible for a range of retro gaming devices from joystick to full-sized Vic-20s and C64 emulators, have launched their A500 Mini Retro Gaming Console.
Story image
Mobility
Hands-on review: STM laptop bags
The advent of hybrid working has meant we need laptop bags. We got our hands on two of the most popular laptop bags from STM.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review: MSI MPG Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard
It’s all change with Intel’s 12th generation CPUs. We have a new chipset in the 600-series, a new socket with the LGA 1700, and new DDR5 memory.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Technics EAH-A800 Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
Designed in Osaka, Japan, these headphones just exude quality. They aren’t heavy, but they feel well built and solid.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Google to enter the smartwatch market with the Google Pixel Watch
Google has provided a first look at its new Google Pixel Watch, which is set to make an entry into the competitive smartwatch market.
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: 32GB PNY XLR8 Gaming MAKO 6000MHz DDR5 memory kit
PNY’s XLR8 Gaming MAKO DDR5 memory modules are designed to get the most out of systems based on Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: MLB The Show 22 (PS5)
Historically the MLB The Show series has been exclusive to PlayStation consoles, but now the franchise is expanding.
Story image
Gaming
Game review: Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Xbox Series X)
The Lego Star Wars games have always been popular with both kids and adults as they are a cute way to relive the famous movies.
Story image
IDC
IDC finds 3.9% decline in worldwide tablet shipments
Preliminary data from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker has found tablet shipments reached 38.4 million units during Q1 2022, a year-over-year decline of 3.9%.
Story image
Microsoft
Microsoft unveils adaptive accessories for disability access
Microsoft is introducing an expansive Inclusive Tech Lab to give people with disabilities greater access to technology through new software features and adaptive accessories.
Booster
Booster Innovation Fund. A fund of Kiwi ingenuity – for Kiwi investors.
Link image
Story image
Gaming
Hands-on review: Ghostwire Tokyo (PS5)
Although a bit of a tonal departure for Bethesda, Ghostwire Toyko is a good-looking and eerie action game that is aimed at a very select audience.
Story image
Music
Hands-on review: JBL Partybox 110 Bluetooth speaker
My first review in a long time is sure to create a lot of noise, if the experience in my household has been anything to go by.
Story image
PaaS
New digital traffic light system to tackle construction defects
Smarter Defects Management launches its PaaS digital system and says it will revolutionise managing defects in the construction industry.
Story image
Review
Hands-on-review: Creative Outlier Air V3
Creative is back with the third version of its affordable Outlier Air wireless earbuds range - aptly named the ‘V3’. And this time, they come boasting ambient mode and active noise reduction.
Story image
Malware
Vulnerabilities in Lenovo laptops expose users to UEFI malware
Researchers at ESET have discovered three vulnerabilities affecting various Lenovo consumer laptop models.
Story image
Design
Dynabook launches new Tecra A40-K and A50-K models
Dynabook has announced two new additions to its Tecra range, with both said to help promote flexible working solutions while also reducing the strain on IT managers.
Story image
Sustainability
Can bots succeed where humans have failed in sustainability?
People want businesses to turn talk into action, and believe technology can help businesses succeed where people have failed.  
Story image
Online shopping
A/NZ shoppers plan to spend less, be more selective
For retailers, 2022 is set to be a year of introspection as shoppers across Australia and New Zealand indicate they plan to spend less.
Story image
Wireless
Hands-on review: Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 gaming mice
Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use.
Story image
Norton
Hands-on review: Norton Anti Track 19 software
We get hands on with Norton's new privacy tool that was introduced in March 2022.
Story image
Poly
Poly introduces new smart devices and announces Amazon e-store in Australia
Poly is introducing two new pro-grade devices to the market and announcing its first official Australian e-store on Amazon.
Story image
Gaming
PNY launches XLR8 Gaming EPIX memory products in A/NZ
PNY has launched its XLR8 Gaming EPIC-X RGB™ DDR4 Silver 3200MHz and 3600MHz memory products in Australia and New Zealand.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Tell-tale hints before volcanic eruptions found using AI
Researchers have pinpointed precursors to volcanic eruptions, in data collected before explosions including the deadly 2019 Whakaari surge that killed 22 people.
Story image
WolfVision
WolfVision announces new range of visualisers
WolfVision has announced a new range of visualisers to help meet multiple industry demands for remote learning and educational solutions.
Story image
NFT
Emirates to launch NFTs and experiences in the metaverse
"Emirates has embraced advanced technologies to improve business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees' skills and experiences."