Excite Truck (Wii) Reviews

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Excite Truck (Wii)

By: Rex Inego | Jan 22, 2007 07:01 PM

Since the birth of 3D games, the racing genre hasnt changed a whole lot. Fundamentally, itҒs the same as it was almost ten years ago. Its true that some developers and publishers have evolved the genre by tweaking controls, adding more extras, taking it all online and improving visuals to the point of near photo realism, but these things havenҒt groundbreakingly advanced the genre.

Thats why weҒre so excited about Wii. The controller, which can detect all sorts of motion, seems ideal to shake-up the racing genre in more ways than one. Take a look at Monster Games Wii launch title, Excite Truck. Although incredibly simple and basic, it offers something that no other racing game on any other console does: unique control that let you tilt the Wii controller to steer your in-game vehicles.

In Excite Truck, you hold the Wii-mote like a NES or SNES controller -Җ horizontally - and tilt it left and right to steer the game֒s many trucks through terrain-diverse courses. Some might be put off by the fact that the game requires you tilt the controller to move the trucks in the game, but thanks to the smart design of the Wii controller, you can actually hold the remote up - like a steering wheel, really ֖- and turn it left and right. Although the game was designed to be played by tilting, this slight modification in the way you hold the controller might make hardcore racing fans a little happier.

With that noted, we prefer the games default controls. They work very well. Tilting creates a control experience that feels completely fresh and several times more engaging than conventional control offered by last-gen racers. There are some other control mechanics, such as a boost function, that add depth, as well. By pressing any direction on the D-Pad, you will employ a powerful boost that will propel your truck forward at intense speeds. What makes the boost system rewarding and slightly skillful, however, is the limit gauge, which you must keep an eye on if you want to avoid overheating your engine by using too much boost. If you happen to overheat, your truckҒs speed will drop dramatically, leaving opponents ample time to pass you up. On top of this, you have to be careful not to smack into any trees - or any obstacles on the map, such as rocks and walls ֖- otherwise youll have to rapidly tap the 2 button to avoid coming to a complete stop.

Excite features a varied amount of trucks to choose from, and as you play through the gameҒs single-player modes, youll unlock even more. Different trucks offer different attributes, such as speed and weight differences. WhatҒs more, they come in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and you can choose what color your ride is prior to every match (although challenge mode pits you against challenges in a specific truck). Control itself is not loose, but the way most trucks steer is, but thats actually not a bad thing. The game encourages you to drift as much as possible and even rewards you for doing so, thus itҒs easy to slide around corners and make last-minute changes in the direction your truck is moving.

Perhaps youve noticed the word ғExcite in the gameԒs title. This is no mistake, nor is it a copyright infringement. The racer is in fact the spiritual successor to Nintendos popular Excitebike franchise -- a series that was conceived on NES. Like Excitebike on NES, or even on Nintendo 64, Monster GameҒs incarnation has a huge focus on three things: speed, jumps and tricks. This gives Excite Truck a decidedly arcade-y feel, and we think fans looking for that in a racer will walk away happy with this Wii launch title.

The games terrain deformation also has other pluses, or negatives for your opponents, rather. Triggering the deformation can throw other racers into uncontrollable fits if timed correctly. The shortcoming here, though, is that this is almost impossible to do. ItҒs not a challenge issue, its an issue in the sense that youҒre usually moving so quickly - as are other racers ֖- that you just cant time the transformation in a way that itҒll hurt your opponents. Oppositely, terrain transformation more often than not gives the other racers an opportunity to steal big air, just like you. The result is a feeling of uselessness for this technique.

Moving on, theres another power-up to discuss. The ғPOW icon scattered across each map mutates you into an invincible weapon that can be used to smash through trees, other racers and even give you free boost during all this. Smashing through trees and slamming into other trucks will give you points, by the way, so not only do these things look cool, they reward you to boot.

Excite Truck features a few single-player modes to dabble in. The main attraction here is Excite Race. This isnԒt quite your garden-variety single-player racing mode, however. While coming in first place in the mode is ideal, you can actually win every race even in second, third or even fourth. The goal in the mode, rather than placement, is earning points. Drifting, getting air, ramming into other racers, driving in and around trees, and soaring through in-air rings can earn you these points, allowing you to quickly tally-up a score thatll guarantee you a passing grade. The Race mode has four cups, each containing a different amount of tracks. In order to clear a cup, you need to achieve at least a B rating. Excite Race offers fun, if not addicting, race-after-race gameplay that reminds of F-Zero and Burnout.

Challenge Mode is secondary to Excite Race, as far weҒre concerned, and even so, its still a lot of fun. The mode delivers exactly what youҒd expect: a series of challenges. There are three different types: Gate Challenge, Ring Challenge and Crush Challenge. These names are self-explanatory, requiring you to drive through gates placed across the map, soar through midair rings and crash into opponents, respectively. Crush Challenge is our favorite of the three, because it allows you to drive freely across fairly large courses in search of other truckers to decimate.

Theres a tutorial mode included, too, and itҒs not a bad route to take to learn the games deeper secrets and techniques, not to mention its totally new control scheme. In fact, youҒre required to play through the first chapter of tutorials before you can even touch most modes in the game. This is kind of a bummer, though.

The different courses in Excite Truck satisfy. From China (a mountain range) to Canada (snowy paths), the racer takes you all over the globe. And on a different subject, the game features selectable difficulties, some of which must be unlocked, that alter the layout and length of each course. The number of levels is acceptable, but its a little on the small side, we think.

Past single-player, there is a multiplayer mode to talk about. The game only supports two-player split-screen, which is in fact an unfortunate reality. Four-player would have made Excite an even more fun multiplayer game; one to bust out at parties, where more than two people are in attendance, for example. More disappointing, though, is the lack of online support. NintendoҒs Wi-Fi Connection architecture for Wii isnt in place as of launch, but itҒs the year 2006, and were used to having the option to race against our friends in South America from our southern California location, and thus weҒre lost without it. If you dont care about the lack of online or four-player split-screen (or even about the fact that you canҒt include CPUs in multiplayer, leaving just you and one single friend), however, youre going to like Excite TruckҒs multiplayer mode. Its just as fun as single-player, offering the same fast-paced, big-air racing, only for two instead of one.

The titleҒs audio isnt bad at all, thanks to the SD Card support, thus enabling you to listen to any MP3s stored on your inserted SD Card. This is a feature weҒve come to love in other racing games (although were used to seeing games use iPod or HDD support for custom soundtracks, not SD Cards), and weҒre totally happy Monster Games included the functionality. While the games music is actually pretty good, offering a number of guitar-heavy tunes, itҒs always better to be able to race to your favorite bands.

Graphically, Excite Truck is not really a bad-looking game, despite the fact that its no Gran Turismo or Project Gotham Racing. Textures donҒt impress, but big draw-distances coupled with considerably large amounts of terrain merge together creating a picture with a good amount of eye candy. The strongest graphical success here, though, is the games sense of speed, which is phenomenal. F-Zero fans wonҒt be blown away, but theyll like what they see, and racing gamers will no doubt agree. Excite Truck is fast. Hellishly, actually. This is all brought to life by an adrenaline-pumping motion-blur and a couple of other nifty graphical effects.

Pros: Great sense of speed Custom soundtrack allows you to race to whatever you want

cons: Lack of four player means you'll only ever have one with another person with this game

conclusion: Although not super deep, Excite Truck is a fun little Wii game. Im most disappointed by the lack of four-player split-screen. I can understand Җ- although I dont like -Җ the lack of online play in the racer. But the missing-in-action four-player mode, well, baffles me. Even so, two-player is fun. Single-player is as well, although you can easily blow through almost everything the game has to offer in this regard in an afternoon. Thankfully, a satisfying reward system will keep you coming back to try and top your high score. In this sense, Excite Truck is surprisingly addicting as is the entire racer itself. Youll forget the low-res textures and somewhat primitive graphical quality of Excite Truck in no time, as the racing elements hidden within are so enjoyable. Rent it, and decide if itҒs for you. For many, a lack of depth might keep this from being a buy.

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