E3 2010: MotorStorm Apocalypse Hands-On

The first MotorStorm kicked up the dust in the desert. The second MotorStorm tore up the jungle. The PSP MotorStorm heated up the arctic. Now, MotorStorm is taking players to the end of the world with MotorStorm Apocalypse (MSA).

The detailed list of features is impressive. There are 14 tracks, around 10 hours of gameplay, a wide variety of vehicles, massive destructible environments that change the race tracks and a hugely expanded online mode. What is likely to get people initially talking about the game is the 3D visuals that bring catastrophic earthquakes out of the screen. The game was designed to showcase how the 3D effects can create a tense situation with visual cues that bring out the sensation of being in the end of times. Scraps of paper fly through the smoke filled air while crumbling buildings rattle the streets and make it hard to keep a perfect racing line. Not only will players battle for first place, they will have to constantly battle the ever changing elements.

MSA will starts to flesh out the world of MotorStorm by including a story mode that pulls together the reason why these giant celebrations of oil guzzling rockets on four wheels gather. As the city is falling apart, there will be two factions competing independently for control as long as they don’t become splatter marks on windshields. The sense that people are in a legitimate panic is perfectly conveyed in the pre-alpha build shown.

Multiplayer is a strong focus for MSA with a slew of new offerings that take bits and pieces from leaders in all sorts of game genres. Call of Duty was specifically mentioned during demo so it will be little surprise that a level structure and perks will play a large role competitively. What is unique is a betting system that lets players bank or gamble their hard won points on the next match. Banking points is the safe and steady way to play the game, but gambling is for the hot shots that can pull off spectacular feats of online dominance to skate through the ranks and unlock perks and vehicle customization options.

With a gambling system, there will be people who try and cheat the system by throwing a game. The designers cut this problem off at the source by making cheating more trouble than it is worth. There will be plenty of opportunities to score points beyond conventional methods that it will take longer to win ill gained points than to legitimately earn them. The failsafe system is there is a backend system that allows for server side updates that don’t require a title patch to adjust winning percentages.

This was a very early build of the game and it is shaping up to be fantastic. The 3D effects look great, but even without the sense of depth the apocalypse the earth shaping events in the races are sure get their engines revved for the fourth installment of the racing series.