SHAWN: When a mafia don paid me to race my mammoth truck through Central Park for his pleasure, I came to the following conclusion: Intercepted pay-per-view programs inspired aliens in the Alpha Centauri system to make Monster 4x4. How else can you explain Masters of Metal’s creepy announcer—he sounds more like a fey ESL student than a hoarse emcee with too much reverb on his mic (ya know, “Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!”). Anyone who actually enjoys the world of monster trucking will instantly realize that this game seriously lacks authenticity.
Despite its rudimentary grasp of redneck culture, Masters of Metal manages to nail the handling and physics of the massive machines, even if its brand of big wheelin’ won’t convert new followers. (A standard racing game this most certainly is not.) It does deserve credit, however, for a layout that lets you pick up the points you need to proceed by doing donuts in exhibitions instead of rerunning flubbed races, although fans won’t feel large and in charge as the camera goes haywire when their truck gets stuck in a wall.
DEMIAN: I second Shawn’s space-aliens theory, and I would like to add that the main character, named Rookie, looks like a cross between Lyle Lovett and the dude from Eraserhead. Aside from that highlight, Monster 4x4 is just a cavalcade of nonsensical cut-scenes and subpar, glitchy driving designed to catch the eye of Wal-Mart shoppers. Events vary from indoor arena races to despoiling America’s parklands, but with a curious lack of wanton car crushing. Sure, there’s a little car crushing, but not wanton crushing, and that’s what I want in a monster truck game.
OFFICIAL PS MAG—GIANCARLO: Masters of Metal does a fairly good job of capturing the glory of car smashing with open-circuit courses where you can plow through all sorts of objects in the environment with kick-ass trucks. Unfortunately, the traditional stadium tracks are pretty mundane in comparison, and A.I. opponents don’t offer much of a challenge (you can easily complete everything in a matter of hours). It’s a fun little romp, but one that won’t fully sate your hunger for mud-caked mayhem.
Good: Terrific truck physics
Bad: Camera goes wonky when trucks collide
Mullets: Not included
Copyright Â© 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.