reviews\ Mar 5, 2007 at 7:00 pm

MotorStorm - PS3 - Review

It’s no big deal; it’s just a little bump. But that little bump, combined with the slippery mud, causes the vehicle to careen out of control, and eventually slams into a wall of stone. Enter eye-popping, jaw-dropping cutscene of a vehicle flipping, disintegrating and generally doing an impression of an overcooked marshmallow.

Yes, it is spectacular, but it also costs you several places during the scene while you were admiring the spectacle.

Welcome to Motorstorm, an off-road racer developed by Evolution Studios and published by SCEA for the PlayStation 3 console system. Evolution is the team behind World Rally Championship, so it certainly knows what off-road racing is about, but with Motorstorm, it has combined the high-def power of blu-ray technology for courses that go from wide open to harrowing in a heartbeat, and can throw a variety of vehicles at you in a mad dash through these environments.

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.

MotorStorm Screenshot

The game sets up like a concert, of sorts. You begin in a progressive career mode, in the single-player race, of having to finish in the top three to move forward and receive ‘tickets’ to the next event. Some of the races are vehicle specific, and therein lays part of the challenge of the title. Motorstorm features a variety of vehicles, from trucks to motorcycles, dune buggies to 18-wheelers, and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The dune, or mud, buggies are particularly adept at wading through the muck, while the motorcycles are fast but are like pinballs compared to the other rigs. The 18-wheelers have to find the quickest way through the course, as they don’t have the acceleration to outrun the smaller vehicles, but can create mayhem by knocking everything and everyone out of the way.

And they certainly will do that. Not only when you hop online for some multiplayer action, but the AI in this game is smart enough to lead the race and do what is necessary. If that means nudging you into the wall, so be it.

Motorstorm is part off-road racing, part demolition derby. As mentioned, 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 qualify 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 (as in what vehicles are available to drive during the event).

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.

There is not a wide range of courses available and so they can feel a tad repetitious, but still provide challenge and fun. Lighting conditions will change and as these vehicles do not have headlights, driving in twilight can present its own challenge. In spite of the lack of courses, though, what is presented is dynamic and fun. There always seems to be another way you can cut corners and find the fastest way through to the finish line.

The control scheme is somewhat elementary. R2 is used to accelerate; L2 is used to break and the X button is the turbo. Steer with the analog thumbstick. The SIXAXIS controller can be used in the motion-sensor function to steer the vehicle, but with the slipping and sliding that can occur during the race, it is a learning proposition.

The crashes are cinematic in nature and generally spectacular. The online play is very challenging and can feature up to 12 racers.

Graphically strong, Motorstorm is clearly a benchmark for PS3 off-road racers.

This program is rated Teen for language and violence.

Review Scoring Details for Motorstorm

Gameplay: 8.8
There is a lack of courses that you begin to feel around the sixth hour or so of playing the career mode. The controls are tight and responsive, and the AI is top notch.

Graphics: 9.0
The crashes are spectacular and cinematic. The mud effects on the screen are a little weak and driving in twilight can be a nightmare if you don’t know the course.

Sound: 8.8
Solid musical score, great explosions and the general roar associated with racing.

Difficulty: Medium
The inherent challenge stems from the vehicles used and how you attack each track.

Concept: 8.7
The racing is pure off-road and has been realized before, just not to this extent. Evolution upped the ante in terms of car physics and graphical presentation.

Multiplayer: 8.3
Up to 12 can race and this is always much more dynamic than racing AI.

Overall: 8.8
This is a terrific experience. The overall package may feel a little light in terms of variety, but the game is terrific eye candy that plays very well, has a solid challenge and is much fun to play.


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