Monster 4x4: Stunt Racer Hands-On

We drive up walls in Ubisoft's upcoming monster-truck racing game for the Wii.

Despite receiving not-so-great review scores, Monster 4x4: World Circuit on the Nintendo Wii did well enough to warrant a follow-up with Monster 4x4: Stunt Racer. Ubisoft held a small press event at its office in San Francisco, where we got a chance to race giant monster trucks that can now drive up the side of a wall and do some crazy stunts. We spent most of our time in multiplayer matches, trying our best not to come in last.

There are 12 monster trucks to choose from, some of which can be upgraded, but during our demo we had only two choices, and we tried both. It takes a few turns to get adjusted to the Wii steering wheel and the truck, but once you figure out the sensitivity, you're good to go. The game comes with a plastic steering wheel, but there's an option to purchase the game without it. The number buttons correspond to the gas and brake, and the B button initiates the nitro. When taking leaps off platforms or ramps, you can shake the wheel or turn it quickly left and right to execute flips and tricks. Depending on how you rotate it, though, you could end up facing the wrong direction when you land, which we did a couple of times.

Being able to drive up the side of a wall is a new feature in Stunt Racer. You can scale walls and launch yourself off a boost pad, but you need to have enough momentum, otherwise you'll have to take the long way around--assuming there is an alternate route. There were times when we didn't quite make it up the ramp and had to reverse and go down another path. We had a chance to check out a handful of construction-site-themed tracks (there are seven in all) and a single-player canyon track that comes with plenty of wall ramps and special barrels that you can drive into to distract the other racers. One of the barrels would home in on the closest competitor, like a guided missile, to slow him or her down.

There are seven game modes in all, but we had a chance to check out only the standard Race mode and the Last Man Standing mode. In Last Man Standing, the goal is to not be last when the timer runs out. Every 30 seconds the last player explodes, so you need to stay ahead of the pack if you want to come out on top. There are 50 different challenges and more than 30 side missions that can be completed during each main challenge. With three other friends, you can play split-screen in modes such as Racing, Last Man Standing, Freestyle, and Grand Prix. There may be more, because according to the fact sheet provided, it looks like Truck Soccer is back, and there are Car Crushing and Freestyle Show-Off games as well.

Monster 4x4: Stunt Racer is set to be released later this year at a price of $19.99 without the steering wheel and $29.99 if you would like another wheel to add to your collection.

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Sounds like its going to be better than the game's predecessor.