previews\ Jan 1, 2007 at 7:00 pm

MotorStorm - PS3 - Preview 2

During a race, crashing and losing time could be considered a bad thing. During Motorstorm, crashing provides a sense of awe, giggles, general goofiness as well as losing time and several places in the race. 

Why? Because Evolution Studios has taken great care in making certain that each crash of the player’s machine is a spectacular visceral experience. You name it and it is there – wonderful slow motion in which you can see parts flying off the vehicle, flames, agonizingly slow vehicle frame distortion. Part of you is sitting there going “WOW!” while another part is watching the ticker that tells you how many places you have lost.

Publisher SCEA has big hopes that Motorstorm will be much more than a tremendous bit of eye candy. The PlayStation 3 preview sent along shows a game that is also challenging, though a little light on the multiplayer functionality.

In regards to the latter – during the times checked, there were no online components active, nor is there the option for split-screen multiplayer. All that was available is the single-player game, featuring AI that is not only tough and aggressive, but regardless of how far you may think you are in the lead, you will always see them either beside you or ahead of you as you head into the course’s final stretch.

Motorstorm is part off-road racing, part demolition derby. The AI is not above squeezing you between a rock and a hard place (other drivers), or just nudging you into a rock outcropping, or even getting directly in front of you on the muddier portions of the track and kicking as much mud as possible into your windshield.

The game is set up like a concert venue, complete with interface screens that will show you the venues you need to clear to advance. You need to quality to advance and that means finishing in the top three per race. The first race allows you to choose any one of a number of vehicles (buggy, ATV, truck, motorcycle, kart, big rig) and from there you race around a track, taking whatever line you want to circle it three times. There will be jumps, bridges or rock passages to navigate. You can only use the turbo boost for so long or you will overheat and explode. Ok, exploding and being propelled across the finish line is a nifty bit of imagery, but if you come up short, then there is dismay as much of the field can pass you up before your vehicle is reset.

As you qualify, you unlock the next race, which may have vehicle restrictions on it.

MotorStorm Screenshot

The game requires thoughtful driving – as in knowing when to be reckless and when to play it a little safe. Trying to cut time to the finish line, when you are leading, may result in discovering a nice bit of rock outcropping that destroys your vehicle and takes you from first to sixth position.

The courses available were somewhat repetitious, but still challenging and fun. The AI is nasty and mean. It actually seemed, at times, that when the player vehicle cut off and caused another vehicle to crash, that sometime later in the race the AI-driven vehicle reciprocated.

The environments are well done, and the audio is terrific stuff, feature rock music over the roar of engines.  

The SIXAXIS controller can be used in the motion-sensor function to steer to vehicle, but with the slipping and sliding that can occur during the race, it is a learning proposition.

Slated for release in the spring of this year, Motorstorm looks to be taking advantage of the PS3’s technology to render out a game that is tough racer in a very visually pleasing environment.

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