More monster truck madness... and a whole lot of fun!

by Alan Zisman (c) 1998. First published in Vancouver Computes, September, 1998

Microsoft Monster Truck Madness II
Created by Terminal Reality
About $65
Minimum requirements: P133, 16 megs RAM, 30-110 megs drive space, Win95 or NT 4.0
Supports 3D accelerator cards

?Big wheels keep on turning??

No, this time we?re not talking about the Proud Mary? instead, as announcer Army Armitage might say, it?s Monster Truck Madness time, again. Yes, the game featuring those trucks with the impossibly big wheels, that was a top-selling game of 1996 is back, complete with updated 3D, a whole new set of tracks, multiplayer options, and a bunch of new trucks.

MTMII is a quick start?enter your name, pick one of three skill levels, one of 14 tracks, and your choice of 20 trucks, and you?re off and racing. If you want, you can fine tune the weather, your tires, gears and suspension, but probably most of you will just want to get behind the wheel and go. Tracks range from tropic island to desert to an eerie graveyard. Trucks vary from real racing vehicles (like the Bigfoot favorite from MTMI) to a new set of fantasy-based vehicles. New truck names, like Hoppywood Hogan, have been licensed from World Championship Wrestling, a sure indication of the game?s intellectual aspersions. (No, I don?t consider this a bad thing).

While the tracks either want you to run a fixed number of circuits, or a single long rally, you can go off the track?in fact, you really should plan on doing this, to take advantage of shortcuts. Just make sure you pass through the checkpoints. This isn?t really cheating?if you don?t take the shortcuts, you?re sure to lose, since you know your competition will. And the competition is fierce?they try to run you off the road, and take risks. But don?t worry, they can?t get away with anything more than you can!

New multiplayer modes support modem, local area network, and Internet play?8 players can content via the Internet Gaming Zone?three of the tracks are ?wrestling arenas? designed specifically for multiplayer modes. If you?ve got a microphone connected to your sound card, you can use CB Radio, transmitting your messages to all the other players. Be aware of some user complaints about bugginess in multiplay mode, however.

The game takes place in a richly detailed environment, full of boulders, traffic cones, signs, telephone poles?any of which you can crash into, sending it flying. The crashes, along with the skids, jumps, and landings feel right?especially if you?ve got a force-feedback joystick, allowing you to feel every bump and swerve.

Great graphics?particularly using one of the supported video accelerator cards. Scenery and the trucks themselves are realistically rendered. You get the return of Army Armitage, with his very American-accented announcing, along with CD audio, playing aggressive rock in the background. (Be prepared to have the video jump a bit when a new CD track comes on). If you don?t like the music, you can turn it off. Sound effects include tire squeals and engines revving?yours and your competitors, letting you know when someone else is coming up at you. You even get the sound of rain bouncing off the roof of your cab. Your horn plays ?Dixie?, and there?s a keystroke to shout ?Yeeeeehaaawww!? (And in multiplayer mode, the other players hear your horn and shouts).

While I haven?t driven a monster truck in real life, I?d expect it to be a completely different driving experience from my Ford Escort. That?s true for the game as well?it?s not enough to point and go. Be prepared to learn to anticipate what?s coming at you, or you?ll find these big brutes hard to turn or to slow down.

Did I mention that the game is a lot of fun? Perhaps the best racing game ever.
 Postscript: 19 March 2006:

"Hello Alan,

I just happened across your review of Monster Truck Madness 2, from
1998, in which you finished off with the phrase: "Did I mention that
the game is a lot of fun? Perhaps the best racing game ever."

In light of that final phrase perhaps it won't surprise you that the
game still has an active community surrounding it, the most notable
site devoted to it being:

New tracks and trucks have continually been produced for it through
the years (thanks to it's full editability combined with free and
easy to use tools), with quality, complexity and creativity that
outshines what the game shipped with. It's also still the focus of
daily multiplayer racing and weekly tournaments.

Considering what has developed over the years I thought it funny to
read your phrase of praise, so I just had to fire off this note on
the off chance that you had no idea what kind of monster MTM2 had
become (over 4000 tracks and almost 5000 trucks). I've authored a
handful of tracks myself.

"Perhaps the best racing game ever", perhaps not, but it will
certainly be one of the longest lived, as the community still has
years of life and devotion left in it. The game's editability,
accelerated 3D graphics and solid physics engine have really given it
legs, not to mention that it's still compatible with current hardware
and operating systems. The only problem is that the game has been
abandoned by it's publisher and is pretty much only available on eBay
now, though it's continually available there.

I hope this has proved amusing for you. :)

best wishes,

Search WWW Search

Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan