game review games playstation 3 racing

Game Review: Motorstorm Apocolypse (PS3)

Timed to release just when the real world had its own natural disasters, this high-octane grizzly racer packs one hell of a punch and deserves your attention.

The Concept

A group of nutcases decide to move the Motorstorm festival to a city that’s in crisis following a collection of Earthquakes that prelude “The Big One” which will reduce the city to rubble. Cue your usual Motorstorm on and off road antics while the course and world changes and self destruct around your eyes.

The Gameplay

You play as three racers, a rookie, a pro and a veteran and each one has their own goals to qualify for the next round (place 5th or higher for example). There are 13 types of vehicle to choose from each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Go for the bike and your nimbleness will prove to be useful in a tight spot but you’ll be easy bait for the Big Rigs that just drive over you but can’t corner worth a damn! In the story mode the vehicles are pre-chosen for you thus taking away your strategic options however online multiplayer and free play places the choice in your own hands.

Each track has its own theme and certain showcase events – very few will be a simple race through the carnage. Buildings will topple, ground will give way, trains derail and everything explodes! In the same way how Split/Second’s power plays changed the track layout and/or threw a curveball for you to try not to crash into – the Earthquake which usually happens in the second last or last lap of  a race, will throw all kinds of stuff at you. Think the city scene in the film 2012 and you’ve got the jist. Oh… and there’s 15 other racers all trying to do the same thing! Thankfully they’re all as failable as you are and fly off cliffs, crash into buildings and explode their boost systems. Boost systems remain unchanged and still play an important role in the game, but avoidance is the key here this time round.

What I liked the most was that this was the first Motorstorm game where I didn’t get annoyed at the handling of the cars. Pacific Rift (and the original) felt too cumbersome but here things feel much more responsive and agile. Braking is welcomed with open arms! The courses also take into account that sometimes you will be trying to get round a tight chicane in a massive truck and so give plenty of alternate routes for you to discover too. All in all its by far the most immediately accessible Motorstorm to date.

The Graphics

While I don’t have a 3D TV to see how that side works, the usual graphics are exceptional. There is some slowdown when you’re in an earthquake and everything is falling down around you but I’m not sure if it’s actually for dramatic effect or not! Sometimes the slowdown helps you out. Some of the big set pieces really do make your eyes stand on end – they’re that good (and I’m not spoiling them). What doesn’t work is the bizarre cartoon cut scenes between races which feel like a completely separate entity to the game itself. Trying to inject humour and distasteful situations to what is already a questionable premise just doesn’t add anything to the game at all.

RePlay Factor

The story mode is do-able in two days if you go at a steady pace. There are 150 cards to collect as you go round the tracks but they don’t really offer much of a reward back. 1-4 player offline is fantastic (although I’ve only played 2 player and it chugs along nicely). Online things are just as smooth and the usual ranking system is in place with an extra of placing bets to win more chips to increase your ranking quicker. If you like to platinum trophy games then most of your time will be spent getting to rank 40 online and trying to find the 150 cards dotted around the single player mission.

Positives

~On screen action all the time

~Fantastic Visuals

~Easiest to pick up and play of the series to date

Negatives

~Tries to be all tough and wacky and comes across a bit arrogant instead

~Once you’ve seen all the tracks two or three times you’ll know whats coming and novelty may wear

Conclusion

Fantastic racer! Ignore the added bolts and whistles and just jump straight into the game. While the course destruction isn’t as satisfying as Split/Second because you didn’t trigger it yourself, the sheer amount of on-screen eye candy and reflex action will keep you amused for a good length of time.

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