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Oct 28 2017

Late Monster Jam Battlegrounds Review

So I had a new third-party controller to try out after having to repair it when it arrived in the post this morning. I also have a massive PlayStation Plus backlog of games to get through, so today was a good day to start (and complete) Monster Jam Battlegrounds.

This isn’t the hardest of games, even when unlocking the trophies, seeing as the game consisted of usually only having to use one button on the controller at a time, which does make for a nice change of pace if you’re looking for something to breeze through.

So the game involves monster trucks being put through their paces in various game modes. There are roughly 4 different types of modes, Time Attack, Stunts, Stadium and the side mode freeplay. Time attack involves just going in a straight line, utilising ramps and avoiding objects, just holding down the acceleration and timing the use of speed and jump boosts. You don’t have any control of the vehicles steering or even pitch with the left joystick when in flight as usual 2D driving platform games would allow you. Stunts contains 4 challenges for each world to be completed. There is Jump, in which you try to fly the as far as you can from driving off a ramp; Precision, which involves trying to land on the red marker, wherever it is, for maximum points; Demolition, which is just driving at a snail’s pace through the level, just riding over cars in the way, again at this point, still no steering control. Then I believe the last one was called Challenge, which is a combination of the previous three challenges. Stadium, involves finally being able to have full control of your vehicle, even though the responsive of the steering has much to desire. In this, you visit different stadiums rather than terrains as in the previous modes, and race against an AI controlled truck. There is only ever one opponent on the playfield to race against. You have to repeat the same lap three times against the same opponent to gain max rewards. Lastly, there’s freeplay, which is an extension to Stadium, in which you’re no longer racing against an opponent in the stadium, rather you’re now trying to perform stunts to achieve as many points as possible. You basically just drive over the ramps and let the game work out what stunt you’re trying to perform.

Completing a level will award stars which are used to unlock additional levels. You can acquire upto 3 stars per level by surpassing the hardest difficulty of the challenge, which isn’t exactly that difficult. You may just have to retry levels a few times to achieve a high score, which doesn’t take long. The levels usually consists of just holding acceleration as mentioned before, letting the monster truck drive itself through the course. As well as stars, you can earn credits after completing a level, even if you don’t make the cut, you will still usually receive credits which can be used to unlock vehicles and upgrades such as additional vehicle health and additional boosts. There are no differences in the different vehicle’s statistics, just only in appearance. As I am not knowledgeable in the world of monster trucks, I am not sure if these are based on real vehicles in the sport, and I’m too lazy to Google. Apart from unlocking two vehicles for achievements, the rest don’t really matter.

For Time Attack and Stunts, there is a replay function that allows you to reverse time any time you make a mistake, flip your vehicle or want to time the use of your boost just that little bit better. The only time you can’t use it is in Stadium, and when your vehicle’s health reduces to 0 from crashing and rolling.

The graphic’s are a bit rough. They’re playable and have been populated with quite a few props, but I’ve seen that the developer’s have previous releases on PS3 that look 10x better, so this now pales in comparison for looks. It looks more like it’s ready to be ported straight to mobile rather than be built for PS3. There are no camera controls, in which sometimes the camera will glitch out when trying to follow your vehicle as it’s crashing etc. Vehicle models aren’t the most detailed when zoomed in, the textures are quite pixelated. The music in the game is actually quite good, a random track plays with each attempt of a level, and I will be looking some of these tracks up on YouTube at some point.

Achievement wise, this game is very easy to 100%, making sure to obtain all 3 stars from each level that isn’t that difficult. It’s nice to have something to work towards that isn’t an unreasonable request of the player to waste tens of hours, even hundreds of hours to acquire one trophy. I think the developers actually had harder achievements planned for this, surely? Probably something like perform all stunts available in freeplay mode, specially seeing as they give you 30 seconds of additional time to complete stunts when you’re preforming exceptional – why would I need this time otherwise when I’m already on to receive the maximum rating of 10.0 unless I would absolutely need that time to complete these additional tricks, but like a lot of smaller titles, the achievements were cut back on and reduced in difficulty to appeal to achievement hunters looking for a quick score.

This is the first I’ve heard of this Monster Truck series, having received it for free in the latest Playstation Plus, but having done a quick google search on it, have found that the series has been around for quite a while with a number of releases for the last generation of consoles. Comparing screenshots between all these games, even a PS2 release, this seems to be the worst of the lot, with barely any functionality, even though it was the last one released for PS3. They somehow managed to not include any of the fun features of the previous games, and seems to have been really lazily put together, it feels more like a demo than the real thing. I can’t complain too much, seeing as I did get the game for free, but do wonder how well the previous releases play, so I might put some money down to try out. I guess this has served as a taster and a bit of tease. We’ll have to see if I ever do splash out for the other copies, but like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, I’ve still got a massive backlog of other free Playstation Plus games to get through yet on the PS3, which I’m hoping to do within the first part of next year, so that I can probably finally retire the console and focus on more recent games.

This game didn’t support being allowed to take screenshots, so I’m afraid I have nothing to show for my time spent, but there’s plenty of videos that I recommend to watch if you’re considering playing this game online to view.

For anyone interested in the state of the controller I received, it was an orange third-party PS3 controller that had a mis-aligned right joystick, a sticky trigger and a motor that had both leads soldered together. Bit of a job that I was able to fix in half hour, but works and feels perfect now. Seeing as how expensive new PS3 controllers are, and having been stung by disgusting used PS3 controllers in the past, aswell as stung by other badly constructed third-party controllers, I decided to still take my chances with the third-party, which once fixed, has worked out for the best considering the price. Gonna laser engrave my nickname where the Sony logo should be. Finally having a wireless PS3 controller that I actually like to use in such a long time, I’m hoping to use this for emulating a few PS2 titles I’ve got lying around.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.thelategamer.com/video-game-review/late-monster-jam-battlegrounds-review/

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