I was skeptical at first about playing this game because it is offered totally free on PSN, and seems merely to be some sort of expensive commercial to promote the Scion iQ. What I didn’t realize is that it’s a fully featured game that’s already made something of a splash in the UK, and that Scion is merely sponsoring its free Vita release and adding in their cute little car as a cute little bonus. It has sixteen tracks, eight categories of vehicles and various satisfying game types, and indeed, I played Motorstorm RC for a good long time beyond what I needed to properly review it, just because I was enjoying it.
The thing I should explain about playing this game is that while it’s a Motorstorm by name, all of the vehicles in this game are meant to be tiny, little remote-controlled versions, and the gameplay has changed to reflect that. Rather than a traditional, from-behind, racing view, you see your car from some distance away, and you’re looking at the track from above. To reflect this, the controls have also been changed so that the right stick is your accelerate and reverse, and the left stick steers you to the left and right, independent from the camera angle. This achieves two things. One, it really helps you to feel like you’re controlling the car from outside of it, like you would be with a real RC car, and two, rather than a traditional Motorstorm, that game feels more like a modern revamping of the classic Off Road arcade cabinet from pizza shops across America. To me, this sort of fast-paced, easy-to-learn, arcade-y style was super fun, and because it was so smooth and polished, it was rare that I would ever get frustrated. The only real problems I had with the way the game works were that putting the accelerator on the right stick sometimes caused me to slow down without realizing it when my finger unconsciously moved the stick a little off-center, and that loose controls can sometimes cause your super-light RC car to flip over or get stuck somewhere on the track. This last problem though, is easily solved, as the R button is the designated car reset button, which places you right back on the track.
The audio in this game is also pretty good, with a unique soundtrack of slightly dubsteppy and never over-the-top electronic music, coupled with the high buzzing of an RC car engine and the enjoyable screeching of the brakes. The lack of any sort of announcer or crowd is welcome here, as it would be weird for an RC event to attract enough people for that to be natural, and it would probably take you out of the game sometimes for a generic crowd effect to drown out the focusing effect that wordless electronic music can sometimes have on your racing psyche. It would have been nice to have some more recognizable tunes, but in this case, I can’t really fault the game for what it’s got.
Finally, the features of this game are both a boon to its playability and a major contributor to its eventual downfall. This game is surprisingly deep for a free download. There are sixteen tracks that span the four totally different environments that act as something similar to “cups” in games like Mario Kart or F-Zero. Within each of these, there’s three different types of events for all eight vehicle classes. For traditionalists, there’s straight eight-vehicle races and speed laps. On top of this, there’s another fun event called Pursuit, in which you must overtake all the other vehicles on the track as quickly as possible. For all of these events, there is a three-medal completion system; depending on what medal you get, you unlock more events, as well as the occasional unlock of one of the game’s impressive roster of 164 vehicles. I also particularly enjoyed the way in which each medal has its own ghost in speed lap events, so that you know exactly where you stand at all times.
Unfortunately and unbelievably, however, Motorstorm RC completely lacks any sort of multiplayer outside of online leaderboards. There’s not even an ad-hoc option. It just seems super illogical for such a fun racing game to almost entirely leave out the concept of friendly competition, so much that it will knock this game, which did enough right to have been a clear 7/10, down to the less sexy 6.
Should you get this game? Of course. It’s free. Why not? Heck, it’s good enough that I’d even make a case for you to pay for it. It’s really fun, but just know that there’s no multiplayer, and wonder along with me at how such a solid game could have such a critical flaw.
[Reviewed on PS Vita]