Thunder Truck Rally
It's time to break out your can of Copenhagen, pull on your boots, gather up the chilluns, and head off to the Monster Truck show. Only this time, you don't have to pile into the pickup truck to get there. All you need is for Cousin Cletus to turn off the fishin' channel, fire up your Playstation, and step in behind the wheel of a Monster Truck.
Despite the stereotypes and cliches, you don't have to be a hick to enjoy a good, destructive, Monster Truck jam. There is something that draws people to these big rigs, time and again. This excitement is now yours to have at home. Not only do you get to crush cars, but you get to take one of these babies out into a racing environment. Good graphics are the highlight of Thunder Truck Rally, but is that enough to carry a game?
Thunder Truck Rally (TTR) is best classified as an off-road racing game. This is not all that TTR has to offer, but it's as good a place to start as any. You can test your luck racing on the circuit, which is a three-lap race across tracks marked for this circuit. You can also try your luck in the endurance race. This is a race against eight other trucks through a series of checkpoints. The checkpoints keep you somewhat in line with the track, but exploration is always encouraged. Finally, you can try the championship mode. This pits you against eight drivers in a league that takes you through a number of rounds, with the goal being to advance to the next round.
Now you know what you can play. The next question is, how does it play? The answer is a resounding "it depends." The racing aspect of the game is quite enjoyable. I really like the variation in the tracks, and there is nothing cooler than hitting a jump and flying over the top of the truck ahead of you. Also, the terrain and landscape make things quite interesting. There is even a course that takes you near lava pits to keep you from trying too many shortcuts.
But what I don't like, I really don't like. Each truck has a damage meter at the bottom of the screen. When I first saw this, I thought this could be good. Don't hit any other vehicles or roll your truck, and everything will be cool. Wrong. Your truck will sustain damage just by going over jumps that are placed in the main portions of the track. Why put a jump in if you can't use it? Now each vehicle has different amounts of armor to protect you against this, and some trucks will take landings better than others. But the point is this: jumps are the funnest part of the game. I love flying through the air in my truck. Too bad I have to land and ruin my suspension. Most of the races I found myself having to slow down on the last lap to keep my vehicle from flying over any rut or mound, so it didn't ruin my suspension. Lame. Let me race!
The thing that Monster Trucks are probably most famous for is the car crushing competition. So what would a game be without a car crushing competition? It would be called Thunder Truck Rally. Well, that is not entirely true. TTR actually does have something in it called "car crushing," but it seems to have been added as an afterthought. In the real world of Monster Trucking, the idea of the car crushing is to move on to the next round. After that, move to the next round until there are two trucks left. These two trucks battle it out to see who is the best of the best. In TTR, the car crushing is a timed event that is similar to Destruction Derby. The more you crush the cars — and how you crush them — gives you points. If you get more points than the computer-controlled vehicle, you win. If not, you come in second. That is it. Nothing more. There are no advanced rounds against others or a trophy or even a little pat on the back. That is all. It's over.
There is definitely no shortage of vehicles to choose from in TTR. This is one of the brighter spots of the game. There are no real name trucks in here, so all of you Bigfoot or Gravedigger fans may be a little disappointed. But the developers did create a good mix of steel and wheels to choose from. You are not stuck with just trucks, either. You can choose a jeep-like vehicle, a converted VW van, a Chevy-looking van, a dune buggy, a Hummer-type vehicle, and a VW Bug. I think everyone should be able to find a vehicle that fits their fancy.
One small note: TTR does not have a two-player mode. I would have liked to see a split-screen, two-player game, or even a two-player car crushing that let you switch off to see who gets the best score.
The graphics in TTR are excellent. These are graphics that we expect from Psygnosis. All of the trucks are very distinct in appearance and look great. The tracks are very detailed and look exceptional. The downside to the good graphics is the load time. This game has to be one of the slowest loading games around. I can only assume these load times are due to the details that must be loaded to make the game look good. It always seems like there has to be a trade-off for something.
TTR ranks toward the top in the off-road racing class just because there have not been very many decent games in this class. The racing aspect is fun if you are careful; don't hit too many jumps too fast and ruin your suspension. The car crushing is nothing more than a waste that you will play once or twice and never touch again unless you have to in a circuit. On the whole, it is worth a weekend rental to see if you are patient enough to wait out the load times. You could do worse, but unfortunately, they could do better.
Download Thunder Truck Rally
Judging from all of the new off-road racing games on the horizon, it seems that game companies have decided that it just isn't cool to race on pavement anymore. If you're the type of person who likes to enjoy a good tractor pull or two, then Psygnosis is developing just the racing game for you.
Thunder Truck Rally is a cross between Destruction Derby and an off-road racing game. Instead of racing sleek, small, wimpy racing cars, your vehicles of choice are juiced up 4X4 vehicles. These vehicles are far from the norm, however. There are nine different vehicles to race and crush things with. They range from huge, monstrous trucks, to smaller cars that resemble Herbie, the Love Bug on steroids. Each comes equipped with monstrous-sized wheels that are roughly three times the vehicle's body size, and for good reason.
Thunder Truck offers a large selection of tracks; you'll find yourself racing through dense forests, deserts or even in and around a simmering volcano. As this race is an off-road one, you may stray from the beaten path, and go virtually wherever you would like, essentially creating your own path. However, in the Circuit Racing Mode you can't get too wreckless if you want to win the race.
There are checkpoints and flags that you must collect on your way to the finish line that keep you somewhat on course, but besides that, you're free to roam about.
There are a multitude of obstacles aside from your competitors. Things such as rocks, trees, molten lava and houses can block your path, but generally not for very long. There is, however, a damage meter for your vehicle that keeps you honest.
Thankfully, there is also Car Crushing Mode for all of us that know what to really do with big, bruising trucks-crush things. In this mode cars are lined up in rows, and opposing players get style points for how well they mash the vehicles into rubble.
As far as off-road racing games go, this one could be a successful blend of racing and mayhem in the same blueprint as Destruction Derby.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1
Psygnosis is rollin' out some monster-truck mayhem with Thunder Truck Rally. From behind the wheel of nine jacked-up big wheelers that range from pickups to VW vans, racers rumble through six tracks or head to the arena for a car-crushing frenzy. The courses are lined with so many wild bumps and jumps that you almost spend more time careening through the air, so the game's about beating the course as much as beating the pack. The trucks move with impressive realism, bouncing and rolling on their suspension in response to the challenging terrain.
With some fine-tuning, this promising title could shape up into a rowdy ride for PlayStation racers.
Psygnosis. the company that brought you Destruction Derby, ups the wreckage ante with Thunder Truck Rally. Choose either a massive monster truck that flattens everything in its way or a quick-moving buggy that easily maneuvers around trouble. Hone your skills on the slopes, hills, and mud ot 12 training tracks with both indoor and outdoor circuits before you tackle the main event--a four-day endurance race covering five stages and over 500 miles of unpredictable terrain. Seek-and-destroy fans will enjoy the three truck-rally modes which score high points for encouraging nothing but all-out annihilation of onscreen opponents. Impressive graphics effects such as dust, mist, snow, and sun glares, plus various camera angles to view the carnage, all add up to high-octane fun.
Thunder Truck Rally crosses the finish line well ahead of its off-road competitors. Although it lacks the addictive edge of a hit game, it's still a fun ride.
TTR rumbles to life with nine big-wheelin' monster trucks and 12 challenging tracks. The races go down in standard Circuit mode or Endurance mode, where trucks must sequentially reach checkpoints via any route. An arena-based Car Crushing mode adds some extra fun, but its thrills are fleeting. Throughout it all, the somewhat slippery controls do a decent job.
TTR's action is all about beating the terrain--it's more important to make smart jumps and turns than to compete with the pack--so Ridge Racer fans may find the action a bit slow. TTR's real problems, however, lie with its eternal load times and disappointing lack of split-screen multiplayer action.
Visually, TTR sports excellent trucks that buck and roll across the terrain with superb details and lighting. The courses themselves are pretty ordinary, though, and suffer from significant pop-up problems. As for sounds, the in-race effects fall squarely on the bland side, and the techno tunes seem way out of place.
Thunder Truck Rally leaves Test Drive: Off-Road and TNN Hardcore 4x4 sucking exhaust fumes. For off-road fans, it's a pretty solid buy, but run-of-the-mill racing buffs should get enough with only one rental.
- In Endurance races, follow the onscreen arrow more than the road--straight-line driving's almost always faster.
- When crushing cars, score maximum points by landing jumps from as many different speeds and angles as you possibly can.
- Cut comers whenever you can. Off-road surfaces are slower, but you always gain some time on the pack.