Motorstorm Apocalypse PlayStation 3
Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by Evolution Studios
The third title in the PlayStation 3's wildest off-road racer is finally here. Motorstorm Apocalypse is set in a city that's about to be ravaged by an earthquake. The races in the Motorstorm series have always been gripping but in Apocalypse the action is even more intense as you not only have to keep your eyes on your opponents but also the very environment in which you’re racing.
Apocalypse is set in the US in a fictional city simply referred to as The City. The motley crew of racers have arrived just in time for the city to be hit by a series of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes. Most of the inhabitants of The City have deserted it due to the impending natural disasters (although some remain to make your life a little more difficult on some circuits) making the mostly deserted streets and other locations ideal for racing around. The havoc the natural disasters are going to cause will also give the racers something extra to contend with - racing circuits which are constantly changing and breaking up with the races still in progress.
There are two main game modes in Motorstorm Apocalypse, Festival and Wreckreation. Festival is essentially the game's story mode and it's here that you'll see the events play out over a series of days. You'll simply go from race to race with a predetermined vehicle to drive. To begin with you'll need to finish fifth or higher to continue with the story. A hardcore version of the race is earned if you can manage to finish first in a race (you'll get to play the hardcore version in Wreckreation mode). There are several race types on offer and a good range of vehicles such as dirt bikes, ATV's, rally cars, buggies, racing trucks, big rigs, monster trucks, choppers and superminis. I really enjoyed the Festival mode but it does go against the grain having to make do with the vehicle you're given. One of the more pleasing aspects of the Motorstorm series is being able to choose your preferred vehicle and then find the best route through a circuit in order to suit that vehicle and this is something that's not on offer in Festival mode.
Wreckreation mode is essentially the free play mode and gives you plenty of single and multiplayer options (complete with a perk system). You can engage in quick races, special events, time attack and a hardcore version of the Festival mode where you'll play through the same races as in Festival mode but here you'll have to deal with more challenging AI. You can engage in Festival, Race, Eliminator and Chase race types and you'll have the ability to select the circuit and vehicle that you prefer. Multiplayer races can also be local or online or a mix of both, with the ability to have players playing in a split-screen fashion in addition to taking on rivals online. With no lag present, the multiplayer component is the most fun aspect of the game.
Motorstorm Apocalypse is a fine looking game and gives an impressive sensation of speed. The lighting and weather effects are at times stunning. The vehicle models are impressive and the degree to which the vehicles are destructible is satisfying. The circuit design is excellent, whether you're racing on used and disused rail lines or on the rooftops. As you'd expect there are plenty of shortcuts and it's great to see the AI take full advantage of these too. A fair amount of each circuit is destructible and this certainly enriches the experience. The only complaint I have is that at times the damage caused by hitting certain objects seems completely over the top whilst hitting things you might expect to wreck your vehicle doesn't. This isn't a major problem, particularly as you'll find it pretty easy to catch up in a race should you meet with a devastating crash, but after several hours with the game you'll certainly be irritated when your vehicle is destroyed or flipped over for hitting an object which shouldn't be capable of doing so.
The general presentation of the game is rather good. The Festival mode storyline (which isn't a great storyline to be fair) is delivered through the use of some rather good motion comics. The game does provide subtitles but they aren't enabled by default so you'll want to enable them before beginning the Festival mode. You'll receive text tutorial messages that fully explain each of the game's concepts rather effectively and without any fuss. The game uses visual indicators to show you when you're boosting too much (the edges of the screen will glow as well as the boost meter being filled) or when you need to press the triangle button to look at some devastating piece of destruction within your current location (the game essentially goes into slow motion when doing this so you'll not be in any danger from taking your eyes off the road for an instant). On the whole the game is a good experience for deaf gamers.
Motorstorm Apocalypse is easily one of the most enjoyable arcade racing titles on the PlayStation 3. The races are always tight and as in any good arcade racer you've always got a chance to come from nowhere and claim first place which always ensures the races are interesting. Having racing circuits that are literally collapsing around your ears during the course of a race definitely adds a more compelling twist to the experience too. There are moments when you'll be a little frustrated by how some objects seem to improbably stop you in your tracks but the ability to zoom right back to the front of the pack helps to alleviate this frustration. Some may also feel that the Festival mode, in particular, has strayed a little from the classic Motorstorm experience but taking this game in isolation, it's difficult to argue that it's not a quality arcade racing experience.