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Excite Truck Box Art
Excite Truck
Out now!

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Excite Truck - Review ( cont'd )
Written by James Hobbs

The main mode offers yet more than this, however, in the terms of unlockable achievements and goodies. Every 'Super Truck Smash,' 'Super Tree Run,' or other 5 star manuever you pull off is logged, resulting in a shiny, gold, rotatable trophy when you fulfil a certain amount. Whilst the initial amounts are a meagre ten, as you play on the requirement leaps up into the hundreds, giving completists a serious amount of work to do in order to gain all the trophies. As well as the trophies, there are over 15 trucks to unlock, each with an unlockable paint job - whilst the main game might seem fairly brief, there is plenty to be getting on with if you feel so inclined. The charismatic and ballistic nature of the main game means that you probably will feel inclined - it's rarely a chore unless you keep on losing.

As well as the main 'Excite Race' mode, Excite Truck also features a Challenge mode to augment the main game. This consists of three types of challenges - driving through flourescent gates, flying through aerial rings, and smashing up other trucks. Again, these do present quite a significant challenge in order to achieve an S rank, although it's only really the Truck Smash mode that is different enough from the main game to be really enjoyable. It's a seek and destroy type affair, with your purpose being to hunt down other trucks in an expansive area and smash them to pieces. It's gloriously destructive fun, and does provide a different challenge to the main game and the other two challenge modes - it feels like more than just a peripheral offering. Whilst racing through gates and rings is fun, it's only really those who cannot bear to leave a game unfinished that are likely to play them through to the end.

Excite Truck does feature a 2 player split-screen mode, allowing you to race head-to-head with another player. Sadly, whilst the main game riots along at a furious pace, the game engine struggles somewhat with the demands placed upon it by two seperate screens, and as a result the frame rate and overall quality of the graphics suffers. You can race on all of the tracks from the main game, which is good, but it simply just isn't as fun - there are no computer-controlled trucks to race alongside, and the low frame rate really lets it down. What could have been a superb addition to the already excellent array of game modes is sadly a missed opportunity, and whilst it's not terrible, it simply doesn't compare to the single-player game.

Thankfully, the graphics in the single-player mode are much improved over the multiplayer. Each truck is rendered appropriately, with tiny details such as swinging mud flaps and loose chains making for an impressive level of detail. The underside of the truck is even rendered well, for those occasions where you crash into an obstacle and the game goes into slow-motion, Burnout-style. The environments, which can be occasionally sparse, are well-realised, presenting a numerous amount of challenges for the player and his computer-controlled adversaries. Castles, boats, trees, and lakes are sharp if not excessively detailed, and the reflection-mapping effects on the water and on the truck are pleasing to the eye as you rush through the tracks. However, it is the speed of the game that allows the developers to get away with some graphical skimping - barely noticeable pop-up plagues the landscapes, particularly the vegetation that grows alongside the beaten track. All too often it's noticeable, and it does spoil the game slightly, particularly as the graphics are generally so good. It's certainly one of the best looking Wii games so far, if slightly low-res in comparison to a HD game - launching hundreds of feet into the air provides you with a beautiful downward view of the immense landscapes beneath you, and it's genuinely awe-inspiring, despite the lack of grunt provided by Wii. It's another case of style over sheer power, similar to Twilight Princess, and at the pace at which the game runs - it's difficult to complain.

In terms of audio, Excite Truck provides a hilarious soundtrack of incessant widdling guitar solos, complete with chugging harmonic riffs. It's absolutely ridiculous, but somehow it does fit with the type of game Excite Truck is - a carefree, over-the-top silly bugger of a game. However, despite the cheesy appeal of the soundtrack, it does get repetitive and irritating fairly quickly, and as such it's rather excellent that developers saw fit to allow you to import your own songs into the game from an SD card. Whilst this is an excellent idea, the implementation isn't wonderful - tracks can only be selected just before you launch into a race, and there is no way of arranging them. It's definitely the way forward for Wii games, though - hundreds of songs can be jammed onto a 2GB SD card, allowing you to play for hours without hearing the same song twice. The rest of the game's audio is perfectly acceptable, but never particularly outstanding - some of the trucks, however, do possess a mighty roar that is quite wonderful to listen to when you're really revving the engine hard.

Other than the lack of game modes, longevity issues, and the dodgy two-player mode, it's difficult to fault the game. The only other problem I've had, and it's happened only a few times, is the controls locking up whilst in mid-air. I've been playing this game for the equivalent of several days constant gaming now, and it's very infrequent, but it's extremely annoying - the remote suddenly becomes unresponsive and you are unable to turn the truck, inevitably resulting in a sharp plummet into a tree. There doesn't seem to be any specific reason for it - fresh batteries were in the Wii remote. It's very odd, but it does seem to be a recurring, albeit rare, problem.

Excite Truck is definitely more than it might seem at a first glance, and I have been pleasantly surprised by it ever since I first got my hands on an early demo months ago. It's a fantastically involving, well-executed piece of ballistic nonsense, and it easily and quite casually gives the finger to more 'serious' racers. It's certainly not the longest game available for Wii, but it's absolutely, absolutely worth a look. I've been a fan of this game since I first played it - go and buy it, and you will be too.

The verdict:

It's obscenely good fun, and it's got something for nearly everyone. Recommended with absolute certainty.


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