MotorStorm: Pacific Rift PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Evolution Studios
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst the original MotorStorm was undoubtedly one of the highlights amongst the PlayStation 3's launch titles, the game was disappointing for its lack of variety and lack of depth. There were only eight tracks which meant you had to race on the same far too frequently. As a multiplayer racer it was very entertaining but as a single-player racer there just wasn't enough to keep you interested for more than a few hours. MotorStorm: Pacific Rift improves upon the original game and makes up for most of the original MotorStorm's shortcomings.
Pacific Rift is certainly a better single-player game than MotorStorm was. The Festival mode has almost 100 races for you to compete in and these races have been split into Earth, Air, Fire and Water zones with each zone containing about 24 races each. Initially you can only race in two of the races in each zone but as you rank up more races will be unlocked (as well as additional vehicles and driver packs etc.). In order to rank up you'll need to earn a specific amount of points and in a race you'll need to finish in the top three to earn points. Once you've earned the required points you'll increase in rank and have access to more races. What makes The Festival mode so appealing is that there are 16 tracks, twice as many as there were in MotorStorm, and as such you don't feel as though you're racing on the same circuits all too frequently.
Aside from The Festival there are other modes to keep you busy. You can engage in online races for up to twelve players in ranked and unranked races. Local multiplayer is supported too, and up to four players can engage in split-screen races. Free-play races allow you to setup your own races against the AI and Time Attack allows you to practice and set lap times for any track of your choice. The Time Attack mode is certainly welcome as it allows you to practice finding the best routes on any given track and times are uploaded so you can compete against other players' best lap times, for each vehicle type, if you wish.
The races themselves (of which there are several types such as normal races, Speed Events, Eliminator and checkpoint races) are just as hectic and enjoyable in Pacific Rift. Once again you're competing in races with 15 others and on any given track there are multiple routes to take. Which route you take will depend greatly on which vehicle you're driving. Incidentally, you can drive quite a wide range of vehicles that include bikes, ATV's, Buggies, Rally Cars, Racing Trucks, Big Rigs and Monster Trucks. Each vehicle type is rated for Speed, Acceleration, Durability, Traction, Manoeuvrability and Terrain Handling. What I really like is that you never find yourself sticking to one vehicle type, as you try and find a vehicle type that will give you an edge on any specific track. Regardless of which vehicle you choose to drive, they will suffer damage. This isn't as serious as it might seem as should your vehicle be wrecked you'll simply be placed back on the track having lost a few places. That said however, the last thing you want to do is lose places, especially on some of the more fiendish tracks. You also have access to a boost function. You can't overuse the boost function though as doing so will cause your vehicle to overheat and eventually explode.
The tracks in the game, which are all set on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, have been cleverly designed and contain just enough hazards and shortcuts to keep things interesting. There are water hazards, treacherous caverns, molten lava, thick vegetation, rocks, buildings, ramps, thick mud and other features that prevent you from getting complacent during the course of a race. You're always on the edge, as it were, and this helps to keep things exhilarating. The scenery on the tracks is much more varied than it was in MotorStorm and this really helps to give each of the tracks a sense of uniqueness. If there's one annoying aspect to the tracks, it's that some of the things you collide with don't have the desired result. It's possible to fall from great heights and not see your vehicle wrecked whilst hitting small rocks or metal railings can trigger one of those cutscenes which shows your vehicle being destroyed which is odd. I've also had my vehicle placed back on the track when I hadn't even gone off the track and I wasn't even heading in the wrong direction (you get a text warning when you're heading in the wrong direction).
In regards to the game's presentation it's pretty similar to the original MotorStorm. Visually the game is impressive. Some of the textures in the game are rather basic, and therefore disappointing but on the whole the game is certainly good to look at. The varied nature of the tracks and the scenery definitely makes the game more visually appealing than the original MotorStorm. The frame rate holds up pretty nicely, even when there are a lot of vehicles on screen at the same time and the sensation of speed, particularly when using the boost, is particularly impressive. The opening cutscene isn't subtitled but otherwise there are no real problems for deaf gamers. All instructions are in text and there is no speech during, before or after the races.
MotorStorm: Pacific Rift is an exhilarating racer that manages to satisfy both as a single-player and a multiplayer title. The multiplayer side of the game is just as enjoyable as MotorStorm but it's the single-player game which has really benefitted in Pacific Rift. Having twice the amount of tracks really helps but the variety of terrains you'll encounter on these tracks are what really makes Pacific Rift much more enjoyable. There are some problems however but for the most part Pacific Rift is a better experience and easily one of the more enjoyable racers on the PlayStation 3.