A rather average mash-up of monster trucks and freestyle trickery.
While there is absolutely no dearth of traditional racing games on the increasingly burgeoning AppStore, there are few titles in the genre that put you in the driver’s seat of a massive, hulking monster truck and pit you against nothing but a clock and a set of challenges that mainly revolve around reckless driving and destruction. Well, say hello to Megastunt Mayhem, a game that’s all about flinging monster trucks into the air, pulling off bizarre tricks, and laying the smack down on lesser, inanimate vehicles. Yup, there’s no AI controlled opponents to outsmart or outdrive here – it’s just you, your ride, and a bunch of arenas with varying objectives to plow through.
The game can be played in either “Career” or “Freeplay” modes, but it’s worth noting that even the latter imposes time limits on each play through, so strictly speaking, you can’t really take off in your beast and fly through rings of fire or vandalize property to your heart’s content without being interrupted by menus and load screens every few minutes. There are 4 different arenas to cause mayhem in, with the first one serving as the game’s interactive tutorial, wherein you’re introduced to the controls and the gesture-based stunts (more on that later). Each of the remaining 3 arenas have distinct modes attached to their 10 challenges; you either need to perform specific stunts, cause certain amounts of damage to certain objects, or pass through a certain number of checkpoint gates. So that gives you a total of 30 challenges to best, but that sounds good only on paper; you’ll soon find yourself breezing past more than half of them in a matter of seconds. Future updates will apparently bring more modes and levels.
If you’re already groaning about how only 4 arenas and 30 challenges is too little for your hard earned 3 dollars, we might as well add to your woes by mentioning that you only get 3 monster trucks to toy with by default. If you feel so inclined though, there are another 3 beasts waiting for you the moment you let go of another 2 dollars via an in-app purchase. The question here, though, is whether you’ll actually like the game enough to spend any extra money on it or not; personally, I’d rather not, extra vehicles and future game modes be damned. You see, while the game’s premise may sound appealing in theory, several bits and pieces of its mechanics are the exact opposite in practice, thereby taking the overall fun factor down several notches.
My first gripe is to do with the controls; there are two modes on offer, and unfortunately, neither feels tight enough to allow you precise control over your vehicle. You can choose to steer using either an on-screen steering wheel or the inbuilt accelerometer. The former is absolute rubbish and will have you driving like an alcoholic with severe hand-eye coordination issues, so you’ll pretty much end up sticking to the latter, which is quite usable, but feels noticeably “loose” – no matter how much you tweak the sensitivity options, turning left or right still feels clunky.
Secondly, there’s the performance of the vehicles themselves. Each one has different stats that can be upgraded with the cash you earn, but this seems totally superficial, as there is no noticeable change in actual in-game performance. Also, you’re forced to spend all your cash at the upgrade screen on your current vehicle each time you complete an event, and if it happens to be fully souped-up already, then you’re balance is automatically brought down to nil. Yes, it’s retarded. And thirdly, there’s the finicky in-game camera over which you have no control. It’ll occasionally take on weird angles when you’re performing mid-air stunts, which will have you believe that you’re in for a straight landing when you’re actually not. The result – your vehicle lying on its roof, and all your stunt combos getting cancelled out, since you need to land straight to rack up points successfully. It doesn’t happen too often, but a more robust camera would’ve certainly helped.