Motorstorm

For a console to launch successfully, a key ingredient is to have decent games available from the start. Resistance: Fall of Man already provides a top notch title from the beginning, but one game alone is not enough to secure victory and, besides, what if you don't like first person shooters? This is where Motorstorm comes in. In Europe, the Playstation 3 has arrived with not just the big hitting Resistance but also Motorstorm which, in some reviewer's eyes, is superior to Resistance. Though I don't think it quite has the polish and flexibility (more on that later) of Resistance, it certainly is a beautiful launch game and well worth a look.

Motorstorm

Racing games live or die by their handling. For every Gran Turismo, with car physics that feel so completely perfect that getting in your own car feels unrealistic by comparison, their is always a Full Auto 2: Battlelines with handling that makes you want to pull your own arms off to avoid ever having to touch the controls again. Thankfully Motorstorm finishes much closer to the Gran Turismo end of the spectrum. Satisfying car physics and responsive handling makes racing in Motorstorm a very pleasant experience. Due to the speed of the game, things will inevitably get out of hand, resulting in your car spiralling off the edge of a cliff or, equally dangerously, straight into one, but regular cornering, jumping and racing in general feel just right.

A range of vehicles are available for you to take out for "festival" events in which usually around 15 vehicles compete for victory across brilliantly designed levels carved through the glorious rock faces of Monument Valley. Bikes, ATVs, mudpluggers, trucks, rally cars and more are available to throw around, with each one having it's own unique responses. For instance, the rally cars, my personal favourite, are the fastest vehicles on the track, but they can't cope with any level of mud or bumpy rocks and tend to get passed easily unless you pick your terrain carefully. The bikes have the best handling, making them ideal for shortcuts through ravines and windy tunnels, but they're also easily crushed by the larger vehicles, allowing for great balance between all of the vehicles. Each one also comes equipped with a boost function with the customary temperature overheat (and an impressive explosion) if you boost too much. Choosing your boost moments carefully also add a tactical layer to proceedings. The boost is effective on straights, but also aids with cornering, so racers will want to use the boost as efficiently as possible.

Whilst the racing is all great fun, Motorstorm does fall down slightly in terms of track numbers and the variety of modes available. Sadly, there is no two player split-screen mode, although you can certainly take your PS3 online and compete in frantic 12 player matches on the internet. There are also only eight tracks, none of which are mirrored, meaning that it isn't long before you've experienced all the courses and cars. There are a decent number festival events but as you progress, all that really changes is that you are forced to do certain courses in vehicles that just aren't suited to them, adding to the challenge without anything really fresh. Though this sounds incredibly negative, it doesn't detract from the game to a great extent. The existing tracks, vehicles and races are such excellent fun that there are plenty of hours of entertainment to be had. If you have a good internet connection, you can easily add 10 or 20 hours to the lifespan of the game. As an offline experience though, it's a brilliant launch title, but with limited flexibility.

Motorstorm is perhaps the most visually impressive Playstation 3 game available at launch. It truly is a stunner, particularly in HD, but even on a regular CRT screen. Mud and dust fly around the screen as you hurtle at breakneck pace across Monument Valley in some sort of chocolate powder frenzy. That levels composed essentially of mud, rock and sand can look so impressive is largely due to the fact that Monument Valley is so awe-inspiring, but great credit must be given to the developers for making such beautiful tracks come to life. Particularly impressive are the lighting effects - racing the same track at a different time of day can feel like a completely unique experience all over again thanks to the added challenge presented by, say, long shadows cast across the track or glaring sunshine blinding your view of the next jump.

Motorstorm

As can be seen from the pictures above, the vehicle models are at the same standard the tracks are (perhaps even more detailed) with crashes resulting in thousands of tiny pieces of shrapnel being distributed across the scenery in a shower of flames and smoke. The cars also transform whilst they're racing from pristine, fresh-out-of-the-garage models to mud encrusted wagons held together by little more than a single rattling bolt. I have on a couple of occasions noticed a slight dip in the frame rate, but almost all of the time, everything runs extremely smoothly at a top notch speed. Races are fast, frantic and beautiful to watch.

Unfortunately, I hate the music. I'm sorry to anybody who can manage to listen to that type of music, but with the exception of one song, I couldn't cope with any of it. Simple solution - I turned the music volume right down and now listen just to the sound effects. To be honest though, with the exception of games like Wipeout, racing with just the sound effects is exactly how I like it.

As a result, responsibility in the sound department falls to the effects and thankfully they're top notch. The engines are all nicely varied and sound fairly authentic for each vehicle, whilst the exaggerated strain of the engines as you engage the boost adds a real thrill to proceedings. Most impressive though is perhaps the subtle variation in sound as you race over different types of mud texture, gravel mixture and dust cocktail. Slightly less subtle, but equally impressive, are the excellent collision noises that complement the visual side very nicely as your car (or others) explode into tiny pieces across the screen. It's also a great relief that there's no commentator remarking on how bad each explosion was (I shiver to think how bad that might have been).

Motorstorm

Motorstorm is visually stunning, great fun to play and an excellent launch title, but it's not quite a AAA hit. Getting such an impressive game ready in time for the European launch was incredible, but the imposed time constraints show themselves with the missing two player mode and the limited number of tracks and options. If the developers had managed to cram in another three or four tracks (and mirror versions of everything) as well as a two player mode and a perhaps a few inventive racing option alternatives, then this would be deserving of a much higher score. As it is, Motorstorm gets PS3 off to a good start, but we're left hoping that next year's Gran Turismo will take racing to new levels in this generation.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Evolution Studios

Players:

1

Online:

1-8

Release:

2007-03-23

Trophies:

0

Review summary

Gameplay:

Solid racing and challenge, but limited depth

Graphics:

Absolutely stunning - a great demonstration for PS3

Sound:

Authentic engine and racing noises

Lastability:

No multiplayer offline, but lots of races to do

8.3

Pulsar

Post a comment

Comment:

characters remaining.

User comments

MeteorStorm Random Quote Picker

QuoterQuoter

DeathSpank

Tell me more of your philosophy and worldview.

Cow

...

DeathSpank

I never thought of butter that way before.

Cow

...