Motorstorm: Apocalypse Review

By on March 19, 2011

Come rain or earthquake, we’re going to race.


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One of the first games I played on my swanky new Playstation 3 was Motorstorm. The game had gorgeous graphics, outrageous gameplay, and some seriously fun tracks. Fast forward to E3 2010, and I had the chance to play through a level of Motorstorm Apocalypse, the latest and possibly best installment in the franchise. This week I sat down with the game to see what’s in store for gamers this time around.

Motorstorm Apocalypse differs from previous versions in being more story-driven than its predecessors. Having driven over dirt and snow in previous installments, Motorstorm now takes the action to a place called The City, where a series of earthquakes are ripping apart the city’s various locales. Naturally, this makes the perfect setting for a racing game, so you’re thrust headfirst into this crumbling concrete savanna and expected to survive. The game does an excellent job of mixing up the race locations, so you drive through abandoned parks, decaying bridges, and even across collapsed buildings and rooftops. Though the tracks may lack a few details here and there, they are still plenty of fun to race around on, with each track revealing earth-shattering destructables on the final lap of a race. It’s almost reminiscent of Split/Second, but the comparison is purely cosmetic.

The game’s main story mode is told through three characters, dubbed the Rookie, Pro, and Veteran, with each one narrating a slightly different story arc and of course increasing in difficulty. However storyline was never Motorstorm’s strong point, and whatever plot there was goes flying out the window as soon as you start the game. The impressive range of vehicles also returns, including ATVs, trucks, sports cars, as well as new vehicle types such as supercars, superbikes, and muscle cars. There’s plenty to race around in and the evolving track certainly puts your driving skills to the test. While controlling your vehicle can sometimes get a bit choppy, Motorstorm was never really about pulling off the perfect drift, so it’s something that can easily be forgiven in light of just trying to stay on the track. And if the earth crumbling beneath you wasn’t enough, the game also cleverly uses weather and dynamic lighting to affect how you drive. In worsened weather conditions it becomes almost impossible to distinguish the edges of the track, and as you race blindly against your fellow racers, it all boils down to a rather nerve-wracking race.

Motorstorm also includes (as with most other racers) the critical boost option for your vehicle, though if you boost too often you run the risk of overheating your engine and blowing your vehicle sky-high. However if you drive into pools of water or even in the rain, this will cool down your vehicle and let you boost for longer. Similarly, driving through fire will heat up your engine, so its important to be vigilant as you tear around the track. The game also includes a fun new option to bump into your opponents as you drive to try and veer them off track, which at most times only works if you’ve got a stronger vehicle than your opponents. There are also rival gangs that are looting the city, and they play an important distraction in the game by trying to shove racers off-track or attracting the unwanted attention of machinegun-wielding law enforcement flying around in helicopters. At certain points in the race you will be prompted to hold the triangle button, which slows the action down and focuses on something in the environment, such as a crane toppling over or a building collapsing onto the track. There’s so much going on at any given point in the game, so you’re always fighting to stay both on track and ahead of your opponents. Should you tire (if ever) of Motorstorm’s Festival mode, you can always try your mettle at the 16 player multiplayer, which has its own set of perils and rewards. As you complete races you’re rewarded with perks that you can apply to your vehicle, such as a better boost or the ability to respawn quicker onto the track. It’s certainly much more challenging when racing against human opponents than the AI, and coupled with the ever-changing environment it makes for one ridiculously frantic race.

Visually the game looks excellent with some cleverly designed tracks and a tremendous amount of detail. If you really want to blow yourself away, the game also supports 3D with a compatible TV, and from what I remember during my 3D gameplay at E3, the visuals really do kick into high gear. But the audio in the game is also just as satisfying – engine revs as you boost, the whine of your engine as your accelerate over a jump, and the crunching of metal as you slam your vehicle into a barrier for the billionth time. It truly is all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and every pop, crunch, and zoom is heard clearly.

Motorstorm Apocalypse is a game that promises plenty of racing thrills and it delivers just that, as long as you can stay on the track. If you’re looking for some over the top racing fun on tracks that defy the laws of gravity and safety, then give this game a go.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
9
Some fun and frantic with a variety of tracks and vehicles.
GRAPHICS
8
Outstanding level of detail and track design that truly comes to life when seen in 3D.
SOUND
8
Great sound effects and emotive soundtrack deliver a thrilling race experience.
VALUE
8
A fairly lengthy single player racing experience that carries forward into the multiplayer component.
FUN FACTOR
8
Which other game makes driving through an apartment part of the track?
OVERALL
8.9
A ridiculously fun racing experience that changes at every turn.

About

A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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