MotorStorm PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Evolution Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Yesterday we looked at Resistance: Fall of Man, a game most consider to be one of the big PlayStation 3 launch titles. The other game that's considered by most as a must own title is MotorStorm. Unlike Resistance: Fall of Man which in many ways didn't really differ from other games in its genre, MotorStorm is quite unlike any other racing title you many have played before. In fact it's this uniqueness that gives the game its charm and manages to paper over some of its inadequacies.
MotorStorm is a wild off-road racer that's both exhilarating and irritating in equal measure. You'll race on hazardous tracks involving a variety of vehicle types. You'll see trucks, motorcycles, quad bikes, dune buggies and other vehicle types all racing against each other. Before you think that this seems a little unbalanced you have to consider the nature of each of the tracks. Each track has a variety of routes that can be taken and each vehicle has a route that's appropriate for them. Take the low road and you're driving through thick mud which is fine for the truck but tricky for lighter vehicles such as the motorcycles. However if you're driving a motorcycle you'll be able to take advantage of the routes that avoid the mud and other hazardous terrain. These routes do tend to offer more jumps and the danger of falling into the path of the heavier vehicles below. There's a lot of trial and error here because the various routes you can take are not immediately obvious and you'll need to drive around the track at least a few times before you find a route that best suits your vehicle. What this means is that you'll probably have to attempt certain races several times until you've plotted an effective route.
To add a little more risk to the races each vehicle has a boost that can be used anytime after the first ten seconds of a race. The limitation here is that when you use your boost, your vehicle's heat increases. Should the heat reach its maximum temperature then your vehicle will explode. In fact your vehicle will take a lot of damage in MotorStorm. The damage modelling in the game is very impressive. It's not quite realistic but it's certainly very dramatic and it's quite satisfying to see parts fall from your vehicle with every bump and scrape it takes. Should your vehicle explode it's not the end of the race, as you are given a new vehicle, but it essentially finishes your chance of winning the race. Bigger vehicles such as the trucks won't hesitate to try and crush your smaller vehicle, so it's wise to avoid them whenever possible.
If MotorStorm is guilty of anything, it's a lack of depth. MotorStorm is a lot of fun but in some ways it's a bit of a lightweight product. The solitary single-player mode has 21 events (only three of which are initially available) and each event is comprised of 1 to 4 races. The idea is to earn enough points in a race to be able to earn another event ticket and unlock other vehicles. Each of these events play out in the same way. There are no different race types. In most races you're limited to the type of vehicles you can pick, which is disappointing. There are eight courses in the game and in truth this is far too little. In a very short space of time you'll have seen all of these courses and it's a little tedious having to race them over and over again during the single-player game. You can't configure the races in anyway. For instance you can't choose to set the race at night or set the weather to rain. Everything is pre-configured and unchangeable. The AI is quite good to begin with but as you progress to the later races it becomes irritatingly difficult. On the whole I think the single-player game is disappointing. It's just as well then that the online mode is very enjoyable and the races are more satisfying, not only because you are racing against more natural opponents, but also because races can be configured exactly how you want them to be. However those hoping for a split-screen race will be out of luck as no offline multiplayer support has been included.
The one aspect of MotorStorm that really impresses is the graphics. For a launch title MotorStorm really looks great. The vehicle models are very good and all of the eight tracks look superb. The damage modelling is similarly impressive. Seeing the vehicles drive through the mud and becoming dirty in a very realistic fashion is pretty amazing. Whether you're playing the game on a standard TV set or on a HD display, you can't help but be impressed with the visual quality of the game. For the most part the frame rate is fine but it's noticeable that slowdown does occur, although it's nothing problematic and considering this is a launch title it's easily forgivable.
MotorStorm won't cause deaf gamers any problems. All instructions are in text. There are no captions for the horn on your vehicle or the claxon that sounds when you complete a lap but in truth this doesn't really matter. Due to the Sixaxis not supporting force feedback it has to be said that the game is less satisfying for deaf gamers. MotorStorm would have been the perfect game to have been able to feel the vehicles slipping around on the treacherous, muddy surfaces. Of course you do have access to the motion-sensitive steering but I personally found it a poor substitute for using the left analogue stick and the disabled motion-sensing support.
MotorStorm has impressed a lot of reviewers out there with its high adrenaline-pumping action and yes it's a real blast when playing online. However, the game is very shallow and offers little in the way of single-player entertainment. There should have been more tracks, far more race variety and far more longevity for the single-player. Those who are purchasing the game with the idea of playing online will no doubt be impressed. Those who aren't looking to play online will probably find the game lacking in depth. Not including an offline multiplayer mode is a really strange decision and does kind of hint of the game being rushed out. Still there's a lot of potential here and with a few adjustments, it's possible that a sequel could really be worthy of being hailed as a gaming classic.
MotorStorm is definitely a game for those who enjoy their off-road racing games and for those who are looking for a fun online racing experience. However, the single-player game is very shallow and lacking in variety. If you are looking to play online then MotorStorm is recommended.