Monster 4X4: World Circuit Hands-On

We go monster truckin' on the Wii with this arcade racing game.

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Monster 4X4: World Circuit
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A few weeks ago, we got a sneak peek at Monster 4X4: World Circuit, a Wii port of the Xbox game of the same name that was released earlier this year. Unfortunately, we weren't able to actually play the game then, a problem that was resolved during our recent visit to Ubisoft's San Francisco offices. While the game features much the same content as the Xbox version, as a Wii title, it plays significantly different.

Yeah, it's monster trucks playing soccer. Any other questions?
Yeah, it's monster trucks playing soccer. Any other questions?

Like other Wii racing games we've had a chance to try out, Monster 4X4 has you controlling your vehicle by holding the rectangular Wii controller sideways and turning it like you would a steering wheel. The difference here is the wheel accessory, which will be packed in with both Monster 4X4 and another Ubisoft Wii racer, GT Pro Series. After assembling the wheel, you snap the Wii controller into a slot found in the center of the wheel. The motions of controlling the game are still exactly the same, but instead of grasping onto the edge of a thin rectangular controller, you're latched onto the smooth contours of the Ubisoft wheel.

Though Monster 4X4 features monster trucks exclusively, there's more to the game than simply leaping crushed junkyard cars. The game is pure arcade circuit racing, full of power-ups and on-track weapons in the form of barrels that, once you run them over, shoot forward and knock out the next car ahead of you. Far from being heavy and sluggish, these monster trucks aren't just quick, they're agile and capable of pulling off a variety of midair tricks. It's during these tricks that you take the most advantage of the Wii controller's motion-sensing capabilities. Hit the air off the lip of a jump, and you can move your arms forward in a circle to pull off a somersault, or you can move them laterally to flip your car from left to right (or vice verse). As long as you have enough speed at the jump, you can execute these moves with ease. Performing these tricks will earn you turbo boost, which you can activate on the track at any time by pushing forward with both hands.

In addition to racing on multiple tracks, we got a chance to check out Monster 4X4's minigames, including our personal favorite, soccer. Up to four people can take part pushing a gigantic soccer ball around a field and trying to score goals in equally huge nets. The one-on-one matches we played were fast and fun, as we maneuvered our trucks around the pitch trying to nudge the ball in the goal. We did notice that the kind of truck you choose can have an effect on your performance, as some of the bigger trucks aren't able to keep up with the smaller, quicker models. Nonetheless, like any good minigame, monster truck soccer elicited a number of tense moments and good laughs during our play session, and you can't ask for much more than that.

Monster 4X4 seems to be making smart use of the Wii controller--it's got a bright, cartoonish vibe, and the packed-in wheel accessory will be helpful for not only Ubisoft games but also any other Wii racing games that come down the line. We'll have a full review of this arcade racing game after its release.

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