Monster Truck Championship is the latest game to get a next-gen update for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, but is it a true upgrade, or another sad re-release?
Monster Truck Championship wouldn’t be my go-to game when that racing itch burns. No, for me, Forza Horizon 4 and DIRT 5 are where I go to get my speedy thrills. But, Monster Truck Championship isn’t a bad addition to the library, and after an initial period of “what am I doing here then” I actually got really into it. And I mean, really into it. So into it, I pulled an accidental all-nighter while chasing new parts for my truck on massive wheels. Yeah, it’s good then, and if you’re not careful, you’ll lose yourself in its simple but engrossing loop.
The premise of Monster Truck Championship is simple: you are a driver, you compete with your truck to earn money which is then used to compete in more championships. Rinse and repeat as required.
There’s a little more to it, but just everything else in this world we call Earth, it all revolves around money. It costs to enter any given championship, so you’re investing in the hope that you’ll get your money back and then some extra. The higher you place, the more money is paid out to you, which you can use to buy new parts for your truck and hire new staff. However, you’re not allowed to go on a spending spree right away as the game locks staff upgrades and improved parts behind progression. The more you play, the more parts and people you can unlock. I suppose it makes sense otherwise I’d have bought up everything while still in the minor leagues.
A final note on the financials; you can also sign up to sponsors, and they’ll help you earn more money. You’ll be given tasks to perform throughout a championship and some are relatively easy, like coming in first, and others are a little more complicated, like performing a certain number of a specific trick. The more you please your sponsor, the higher your potential earnings. But, remember, a lot of that money is going to be sat around doing nothing until you make some headway through the career mode. For the most part, you’re spending your cash on entrance fees and truck repairs between events.
I like the career mode for what it was, even if it wasn’t especially deep. It encouraged me to tinker with my truck and to do more than just plough through the pack during races, thanks in part to the sponsorships dictating my racing style.
The racing is good fun but there’s more than the standard racing available. Each championship is made up of several events, normally including a good mix of all available game modes. You’ve got races, drag races, destruction, and freestyle modes. My favourites were, of course, the races because they’re what I’m used to. It wasn’t easy to begin with, mind you, because Monster trucks do not handle like your typical racing car. They’re big, brash, and deceptively susceptible to spinning out of control. This is where flicking the right stick came in handy; the right stick controls the back wheels, and once my muscle memory made room for flicking the right stick left or right depending on the turn, I was breezing through races. Yeah, it’s a little easy, I suppose, but there is a harder setting if you want more of a challenge.
Drag Races are not your traditional quarter-mile rev-fests, but instead short courses with a turn or two. They really should be renamed, then. I can’t say I enjoyed these head-to-head races all that much, if only because they were often done within just a few short seconds. My quickest was just nine seconds, and the longest that I can remember was around 20 seconds. For reference, the intro cinematic for the race lasts longer than this.
Destruction and Freestyle are more along what I imagine Monster trucking all about – big tricks and smashing caravans, oh, and for whatever reason, porta-potties. Whether they are used or brand new is not known, but I’d hate to be the one cleaning the wheels once the crowds have gone home.
These events are good fun where you’re given free-reign of an arena filled with stuff to smash, destroy, and lots of ramps to jump off, as well as some quarter-pipes to hit at speed, sending your truck into a backflip. It’s here where you’ll get to show off your mad skills, and I really enjoyed throwing my truck around and seeing what kind of damage I could cause. It’s silly stuff, sure, but there’s fun to be had and I got me some of it.
So, what about the next-gen enhancements? To be fair, they’re decent, if a little underwhelming. The biggest improvements come in the form of resolution, frame rate, and load times. I had a go of the last-gen edition on PS4 so I could accurately compare, and the difference in how the game plays is stark – just don’t expect it to be a massive visual overhaul, because it’s not.
It’s hitting a higher resolution to give the game some clarity; it’s upping the frame rate to make it smoother to play, and it’s reducing the load times so that you barely have to wait a couple of seconds between screens. One disappointment is the glaring omission of DualSense support; the haptics are not used at all and the experience is no different to playing with a DualShock 4 controller. It’s a missed opportunity to tick a next-gen buzzword on the checklist – something you would think developers and publishers would be eager to put their name to.
Whether these upgrades are worth buying the game new for PS5 or Series X|S is up to you, but as it’s a free upgrade for last-gen owners, it’s a nice one and a definite improvement that makes the game a lot more fun to play.
Monster Truck Championship PS5 Review
- Overall - Very Good - 7/107/10
Monster Truck Championship offers a fresh way to smash some big-wheeled trucks around - and it's good fun. It's also a big upgrade over the last-gen versions; 60FPS and up to 4K resolution really puts the last-gen edition to shame.
There's a lengthy career mode to work through with some nice options to tweak the game to your liking, as well as multiplayer if you want to test out your trucking skills online.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS5. Reviewed using: PS5.