A new racer hits the AppStore. This time though you’ll be power sliding a 10 tonne truck…
I’m all for a different spin on the racing genre, all to often we are forced to taking to the streets of New York, London or Tokyo in pimped out saloon cars and hot hatches. So, once in a while it’s nice to have a change of pace. In Truck Jam that pace is significantly slower, in fact you’ll be hard pushed to get your truck up to more than 40Mph.
Of course trucks are much heavier than your average saloon car, so this is to be expected. Having said that, the game does presents you with a good sense of speed, thanks to the authentic handling and weighty feel to each truck (best with tilt controls). Try and take a tight corner at speed for example and you’ll find yourself belly up. The tracks also help in this regard, with many bumps, hills and ditches to help throw you around. These elements all come together to great effect and give you a real feeling that you are driving a large vehicle.
The game is spilt into two modes, practice and career. Practice does exactly what it says, and let’s you take your unlocked trucks onto your unlocked tracks. Career, though, is the meat and potatoes of the game, putting you up against three AI controlled opponents across 24 events. The majority of these are straight up races, where you must pass through multiple checkpoints over 2-6 laps. The remaining events are are less linear, and require you to follow your onboard compass to hunt down and pass through gates before your opponents. The first to achieve the required quota of gates wins. It’s these ‘capture the gate’ sections that I found the most fun.
Multiplayer is sadly missing. Jockeying for position in a race and especially the gate capturing, with real opponents would be great fun. Any racer worth it’s salt should contain multiplayer in this connected day and age, and it’s a real shame that it is not included here.
What you are left with then is a solitary experience, and one that takes a while to get challenging. You should bear with it though as the AI gets far more competitive on later events, tail-gating you at any given opportunity to knock you off course, or worse causing you to roll.
Adding to the replay-ability is the addition of secondary objectives. While completing a race in 3rd place and above generally unlocks the next race, you can only unlock new trucks by completing the secondary objectives. Each track contains a selection of truck parts to collect. These can be viewed at anytime from the ‘my trucks’ menu. Here you must collect all the parts required to build the truck, and assemble them in a mini-game style puzzle. It’s a little simplistic but a nice touch nonetheless, not to mention being necessary if you want to be successful in later events. Of course, with this being an AppStore game, you can always cheat and buy the best trucks with cash. But then, where’s the fun in that? There are a good range of trucks on offer, with different weights and power. However, I would have liked to see articulated trucks added, which would increase the mayhem in driving, as you try not to lose your trailer on a bend.
On the presentation front, the game looks pretty good for the most part. I particularly like the top level menu which spins each track and truck into view in 3D, ripping up tress from one level and replanting new ones in the next. The tracks in-game are rendered to a high quality and run at a smooth frame-rate, but they are a little devoid of detail, with only a few trees, shrubs and posts providing scenery.
The sound is a highlight, especially those of your truck, with a satisfactory hiss when you tap the brakes. Music is also good, but the voice work is heavily repetitive. You’ll want to turn that off unless you like hearing “checkpoint” for every second of play.
In conclusion, Truck Jam has the foundations to become a solid racing title. Right now it feels like it’s in beta. But, with some tweaks here and there to the visuals and the difficulty curve (it’s too easy) as well as the addition of a much needed multiplayer mode, this could be great.
Truck Jam is out now for $1.99. get it on the