Monster Jam: Path of Destruction (Wii) Review

Trucks that crush stuff.

By Joshua A. Johnston. Posted 12/24/2010 11:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Big monster trucks, nimble nunchuck handling, authentic trucks and voiceovers
Poison Mushroom for...
Middling background graphics, relatively shallow gameplay

Those who get their television stations in major cities will occasionally be treated to a colorful invite to monster truck racing.  The style is unmistakable: a bombastic, resonant voice trumpets a local monster truck event, complete with a rock music sizzle reel of impossibly large trucks running over a row of over-matched sedans.  Monster Jam: Path of Destruction is the latest in a long-running series of multiplatform titles that aims to bring that arena truck feel to the gaming console.  For the most part, the game does a pretty good job, although there is room for improvement.

Officially licensed by the United States Hot Rod Association, Monster Jam: Path of Destruction is a who’s who of monster jam drivers and vehicles… at least, for those familiar with the sport.  With voiceovers by the drivers and several real-life locations, the game allows players to compete in a variety of competitions to earn points and unlock new vehicles, accessories, locations, and challenges.

There are only two modes — career and multiplayer — but between them the game still gives players a decent collection of things to do.  There are freestyle modes, where players do tricks to score points.   There are circuit racing modes, where players pit themselves against other monster trucks.  There are challenge modes, where players have to perform specific tricks to earn points.  The remaining modes generally incorporate some variation on either head-to-head competition, stunt tricks, or both.

The game seeks to keep things fresh in two ways.  One, finishing specific games and locations unlocks new locations and events.  Two, the game uses an XP system where players can “level up” and consequently unlock new trucks and new accessories.  How successful these are at keeping things interesting is an open debate, in part because the upgrades sometimes feel like window dressing.  For example, most of the truck upgrades are cosmetic — decals and such — and don’t substantively change the performance of the vehicle.  New trucks with different stats can be unlocked via leveling up, but because the arenas are so small most trucks seem to handle pretty similarly even with the different stats.   Also, leveling up does sometimes effect stat improvements, but they are for all vehicles; players looking for Gran Turismo-esque customization will, perhaps not surprisingly, find nothing of the sort here.

The controls come in two varieties, Wii Wheel-style and Wii Remote and nunchuck.  There’s no competition between the two: holding the Wii Remote horizontally is sluggish at best and is a good way to wind up crashed against some wall or obstacle.  Far better is the Wii Remote / nunchuck combo, which offers more accessible controls, especially when deft use of both the front and rear wheels is necessary.  There is a bit of a learning curve — monster trucks control much differently than typical racing machines — but once accomplished a player can do quite a bit, whether it be wheelies or even full flips.

A few other finer points deserve to be mentioned.  One, the game is, on the beginner setting, pretty easy, with one-button respawning if a player loses control of the vehicle.  (This makes the game a good choice for younger players.)   Two, the game does have a basic split-screen multiplayer mode, but no online components.

The presentation is passable, if somewhat uninspired.  Graphically, the monster trucks themselves look good but the textures for everything else are pretty low-res, from the nondescript junk vehicles to the crowd composed of large dots.  The music is your stereotypical grunge rock, with voiceovers from some notable monster truck drivers.  And if anyone in the home is averse to crunching noises and loud crowds, this game isn’t for them, because both of those are present in abundance.

Monster Jam: Path of Destruction is a decent enough game.  The use of realistic trucks, combined with the unique handling of a monster truck, make this a nice diversion from the typical racer.  It is a competent enough game that will generally please the monster truck fanbase, but it is also a fairly limited game that isn’t as deep as it might appear.  That, combined with some of its other aforementioned limitations, makes this at best an average title, although the demographic looking for a monster truck fix might not care.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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