By WES PLATT
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 1998
've made fun of deer hunting simulators. Scoffed at the glorious boredom of vicarious trophy bass fishing.
So, when I got my hands on Monster Truck Madness 2, I was certain that before long the CD would be reduced to nothing more than a shiny coaster for my favorite canned beverage.
It had two strikes against it going in: a natural distrust for anything Microsoft and monster trucks.
Then I got to playing and quickly found myself getting addicted to it.
The game is just plain fun. It doesn't pretend to be rocket science or some revolutionary idea in racing games.
Just climb behind the wheel of a ridiculously large truck with overblown tires and cut loose.
It offers a refreshing lack of blood, gore and just about any other kind of violence that seems a prerequisite in many games -- including deer hunting and bass fishing.
Not that the game doesn't have a potential for virtual aggression.
You can ram a competing monster truck, plow through fences and hit the occasional cow -- but you damage your truck in the process.
Monster Truck Madness 2 offers numerous models of big-wheeled behemoths from which to choose for competitions in circuit races and rallies.
Race terrains range from deserts to swamps to tropical islands to snow-drifted mountains.
Weather conditions can be customized -- a rainy day on a dirt track can turn a friendly spin around the course into a wild mud-bogging joyride.
On some courses, you will have to contend with freight trains barreling through the area. As you approach the crossing, you see the train roaring closer -- and two competitors in bubble-wheeled beasts are bearing down on your mudflaps.
Do you slow down, wait for the train to pass and give your rivals a chance to start even again? Or gun it and hope for the best?
Be careful what you pick -- damage matters.
The game comes with 11 new tracks and allows those who have the original Monster Truck Madness to import the tracks from the earlier game. It also includes a course that works exclusively for multiplayer truck rallies via the Internet.
Monster Truck Madness 2 benefits from 3-D graphics acceleration, which smooths images and generates scenery faster, but it is a fun ride with standard SVGA.
Monster Truck Madness 2
SUGGESTED RETAIL PRICE: $54.95