Motorstorm PS3 Review
“It’s not next gen until we say so” you hear Sony bellow, and after a few solid hours playing Motorstorm you would almost believe them. The game is a joy to behold. It looks beautiful and it is spectacular to play. After the first lap of the first race your mind really does start clicking into gear justifying that £500 you just spent. Graphically the game lights up any HD display it hits and if you have the chance to play it in 720p on a capable display there is no doubt you will say wow! If you picked up some quality speakers too it is equally impressive in that department as well. Taking part in races is intense, as is ducking and diving around huge boulders while you fight for your life as a massive big rig tries to take you out. Races actually feel like they are taking part in a canyon rather than on a race track built in a canyon. Even on parts of the main racing line there are cracks in the road that you have to watch out for.
However, one of the first small niggles with the game is that there are only eight tracks available to race on. Thankfully they are all highly detailed and of a satisfactory length – some being around three minutes per lap – and offer multiple routes with pros and cons depending on which vehicle you are driving. Looking at some of the videos Sony have been releasing you’d be forgiven for thinking that Motorstorm was a pick-up-and-play title where you never take your finger off the accelerator as you battle through the course. Playing the game however actually reveals that it is the exact opposite of that. The game is in fact all about choosing the right line to race when driving a particular vehicle. The game may seem very arcadey in design but adopts a near simulation-like approach when it comes to handling. You will also need to brake continually as without reducing your vehicle’s momentum, you won’t make it round a tight corner. Even when taking on a straight, the landscape is very uneven and is constantly rocking your ride about all the time meaning you will be fighting for control as you hit top speeds, once again adding to the near sim feel of control. However, arcade style gameplay rears its head once again when it comes to boosting. Unlike some other titles in the same vein you don’t collect boost. You instead are allowed to boost as much as you want but if you do it to much you will overheat your engine and blow up losing any speed you had – which is particularly unhelpful if you driving one of the heavier rides on available.
Even looking at the small screenshots on this very page you can tell the game is a graphical marvel. At times it looks photorealistic with uncanny draw distances shooting far off into the horizon. The cars themselves are well detailed and made up of many separate parts which you will individually see when you crash – and yes you will crash a lot. A nice added touch is that the mud of Monument Valley – the area where the game is set – sticks to your car as you race leaving a thick coating of sludge attached to your vehicle by the time you reach the third lap that most race are made up of. The game has two options to view your vehicles, the default being the far away third person view seen in most racing game. It is probably the easiest view to use and gives you the scope to see all that happens around you and judge most upcoming turns well ahead of time. The second view – and in my opinion the best – is the bonnet cam as it zooms right in on the action giving you an almost first-person view of the goings on. It is much harder to see what’s happen around you using this view but it makes the game feel much more hectic; and in turn really makes the game feel like a next-gen experience as you see the chaos unfold around you. Even just watching someone overtake you from this viewpoint is a joy to behold!
The love-in however must end here as the game is hit with some nasty problems; the first being that the single player is an inanely shallow experience. There is no doubt that most will buy a PS3 and pick up Motorstorm on day one and fall in love with the game… but if you don’t take the time to sign onto PSN then it will be a very short love affair. The single player mode is just featureless, offering no real career and basically just consists of a series of menus where you chose a ‘ticket’ to start a race, with more menus following when you win said race. There is no real sense of accomplishment as you work your way thorough the races but as I stated before, the races themselves are a highly fun experience to partake in – as the scope of ATV vs. bike vs. big rig has not been done before – so that helps the game in spades. Sadly, as you advance, the lack of options really does start to grate and as much as the AI tries to mix things up things do get boring after a while without some extra human input. If you do go online there is a lot of fun to be had as the game offers options for up to 12 players against each other in a single race. There is however no offline multiplayer options whatsoever which is disappointing as Motorstorm seems like the perfect thing to entertain a few mates with late on a Friday night.
Another problem is load times; which are downright abysmal. Even if you just want to partake in a quick race before you head out to work then you are in for almost a four minute wait as you fight your way through different menus. From power on to the first screen is over a 1 minute wait. Then it is on to the pick race screen and once you choose that you have to wait for all the vehicle options to load which seems – at times – to take another whole minute. Once you choose that you have to wait for the track to load which at is another minute more of your life wasted as you twiddle your thumbs. On the plus side, during the wait you can find out all the amazing things you can do with the controller now you are no longer connected to a Playstation console via a wire. Another niggle is the inclusion of Rubberband AI cheating which will no doubt annoy some gamers to the same degree as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard, but it was included to try and keep races interesting at all times and it does its job well.
All in all the game can probably be best described as a good quality launch title but it is still just a launch title; and rarely is any launch game, for any machine, going to be hugely impressive. At the core there is a good idea and it seems to be fleshed out and developed well but in the end there is very little on show to keep you playing the title solidly for anything more than two weeks after release.
There is no doubt the game does have some awe moments… for me racing up a ramp sitting on a bike only to jump over a huge truck taking another route though the canyon as Wolfmother’s 2006 hit ‘Woman’ blasts through the speakers is a gaming moment that won’t soon be topped. However, if Sony were hoping to catch an audience with Motorstorm just like they did with WipEout back in 1995 they will ultimately be sorely disappointed.
It’s fun, but unfortunately very limited fun.
7.7 out of 10