Excite Truck

, in Happening

Finally a new game for the Wii has been released! Excite Truck is a monster truck racing game pitting you against several nameless, faceless opponents in races set in various locations around the world . All pretense at realism is thrown out the window - the trucks move at insane speeds down narrow branching tracks and jump hundreds of feet into the air. Even better, by running over triggers on the track, the landscape dynamically reforms, usually by having large ramps thrust out of the ground sending your truck soaring.

Most of the strategy in Excite Truck centers around increasing your base speed (already fast enough) with various boosts. You have an unlimited amount of turbo which gives you a good boost, but using it too often can cause your engine to overheat, slowing you down. Using the turbo when your truck first leaves the ground over a jump causes you to rocket into the air at great speed, and while in the air you control the aspect at which the truck is flying. Another large boost occurs if you manage to angle the truck so that it lands with all four wheels at the same time.

The races in Excite Truck are not winner-takes-it-all. You are racing for stars, which can be obtained by a variety of means. Particularly large jumps, stunts while in the air, jumping through hoops, and even taking out the other trucks al give you varying amounts of stars. A good placing at the end of the race gives a large amount of stars but it is perfectly possible to beat a level without winning the race, or even by coming last.

The controls of Excite Truck take a bit of getting used to. The Wii remote is held horizontally, steering (and controlling the truck in midair) is done by turning the controller like a steeling wheel. Once you get your head around not using the d-pad for controlling direction this arrangement works even better than you would expect.

The gameplay is excellent, with the track coming at you so fast that sometimes you have to just let instinct take over, by the time your consciousness has registered the turn coming up you have already passed it. The graphics are very well done as well. Although there are only 5 locations, each one is host to several tracks so there is plenty of variety. The music is dreadful, but you can't have everything.

Highly recommended.