As the best selling Playstation 3 game as of February 2008, there was always a lot of hype surrounding this game. A less-than-typical racer, this game prefers off-road, muddy fun over serious, tight cornering track-based action. But how will it fare, and is its reputation deserved?
Check out the official website:
Link to the site (http://www.motorstorm.com/)
The premise is that you are a racer in the fictitious “MotorStorm Festival”, and must win a series of difficult, no holds-barred races to eventually be crowned as the champion of the festival. The story doesn’t really play a large part in the game, alike most racers, but at least gives you an incentive, a motivation to compete, and become a little immersed in the game. The main idea is that you have a small selection of races that you can compete in, with different specialties (for example, rules may apply whereby you can only use trucks to race), and different “tracks” to race in.
Being one of the first PS3 games that I played, you’d think I’d be bored of MotorStorm by now; but that simply is not the case. This is a fantastic game in terms of its fun factor. Quite simply, some of the best fun I’ve had playing a game since I first picked up Crash Bandicoot on the original Playstation. This game is a gem.
Allow me to elaborate. As you may know the Playstation 3’s controller, the “SIXAXIS”, features motion sensitivity such as that of the Wii. You can play this game by twisting the controller around Excite Truck style, (which I found, if anything, more natural than the Wii due to the handles on the sides of the controller feeling more like a steering wheel), or you can choose in the options to play the old school way with the analog sticks. I tried both methods, and although playing as if it were a steering wheel was enjoyable, I had a lot more success with the sticks, and therefore stuck to them. When I did play using motion control, I felt a very slight delay between moving the controller and the vehicle changing direction on screen, but this delay was barely noticeable and not very detrimental to the playability of the game.
As with most racing games, the object of the game is to come first in the races. There are a variety of vehicles in which you can achieve this, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Each vehicle features a nitrous boost button, which is found in many games today, including Ridge Racer and Burnout. Unlike these games, where boost is awarded for good maneuvers, Motorstorm chooses to give you the option to use it after ten seconds of starting the race. However, there is a gauge on the right of the screen that, as the boost is used, fills up. This is used to represent the heat of your engine. If this reaches the top, your car blows up and you lose valuable time. Also, use of nitro will greatly increase your chance of crashing.
The controls are generally simple, but when I first played this game I didn’t realize that the X button was used to handle nitro, and the back shoulder buttons were accelerate and brake, like the pedals on a real car, R2 being accelerate and L2 being brake.
So what makes the gameplay so enticing, so enjoyable? Quite simply, it’s the bare-knuckle raw energy that it projects as you play, the edge-of-your-seat action, the sense of achievement after finally taking the corners without crashing your bike, the excellent and realistic physics, the guilty pleasure of smashing your opponent into a massive rock, watching them total their car, while you drive off smugly, leaving a trail of mud behind you. But most importantly, it’s the sense of freedom that you don’t get with other racing games. There are so many different routes you can take, no race is the same, and after some time playing, it becomes second nature to take the best route for the vehicle that you are driving (e.g. not going through thick mud while riding a motorbike). A slight let down for me was the fact that there is no multiplayer split-screen, which to me is ludicrous for a racing game, but the inclusion of online play more than makes up for this, as without this I probably wouldn’t play this game anymore. One criticism I do have that relates to the previous point is that single player mode does feel a little shallow as it seems very basic and over quite quickly.
This games graphics are impressive, very crisp, very rich colours, and some very interesting effects such as real-time mud indentation (tracks from your vehicle are create in 3D, following your car), and mud also flicks up from the back of the vehicle and lands on the camera at times, obscuring your view. This is a nice feature but can become annoying when you cannot very well. The crash effects are good, with powerful explosions and, a particular favourite of mine, a death-cam, which follows your character in slow motion as he is ejected from the vehicle and shows his gruesome end as he skids across the ground, smashes into a rock, or gets run over by a truck, with particularly realistic ragdoll physics. As you scrape your vehicle, parts fly off and are damaged, and the parts affected are also the parts that were hit usually, so this adds continuity and realism to the game.
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