Arcadey racing madness at its finest
Thank you Evolution Studios for being one of so few developers that are still willing to make high budget arcade racers when everyone else seems utterly determined to spew out simulation after boring bland simulation. I understand that gaming technology has resulted in some truly mind blowing advances in car handling software but in all honesty I'd rather stick a pin through my hand than play another racing game where I constantly have to worry about how my tires are reacting to surfaces or whether or not speeding around a tight corner at 150 miles per hour is 'bad'.
I want fun gosh darn it, and the Motorstorm titles are the funnest racers I've played this generation. The first was light on content but brilliant in concept and gameplay, the second polished as heck with spades of content and much more diversity and the third? so crazy it was delayed because of people's sensitivities around an unfortunate real world disaster. It actually released here in Australia on the original date, the first game ever that I played and finished almost a month before the real game journalists got to. Ordinarily this would be awesome but I must admit having fun driving around crumbling cities while Japan's people were well... yeah, felt weird. Anyway moving on.
Crazy is probably the best word to describe Apocalypse. These games are always set in locals that are rendered in stunning detail with mostly realistic design, as we ll as the vehicles themselves but there’s always this cartoon-ish edge to it all with vibrant colors and a distinct sense of style and madness harkening back to older vehicle based series such as Carmageddon and Twisted Metal. The third game in this series has basically answered the question; if Michael Bay were a racing game what would he be? minus the subtle racism and misogyny, writing is about the same though.
While the vehicles all have fully realized physics, damage and so on these elements have no major impact on actual gameplay as much as the size, speed and power of your vehicle class with the basic handling varying just enough to provide diversity but not so much it will matter terribly. Only with this type of design can it make sense for a truck cab, dirt bike and muscle car to compete in the same race. Ride a motorcycle and you'll travel incredibly fast but be very vulnerable to tight corners and heavy vehicles. Drive a monster truck and you'll be able to run over almost anything but will be hampered on speed and handling.
The other big cornerstone feature of Motorstorm has always been dynamic track design. There is never only a single route and based on your vehicle of choice which is optimal is a key learning curve of mastering each track and believe me this game above all others; knowing the tracks is crucial to even standing a chance against veteran players.
The heavier vehicles handle mud and dirt well while the lighter ones do better on the narrow smoother surfaces as to be expected. In the case of Apocalypse you will be weaving around destroyed landscapes ranging from crumbling cities to a giant peer and harbor that may or may not have a swirling tornado of death nearby. On one track you are almost platform jumping across a series of increasingly more dangerous skyscrapers where every single turn and landing could cost you precious seconds.
And that is the new big deal with Apocalypse as the name suggests, the dirt has hit the fan and every kind of bad thing nature could bring down is happening, a cool feature being that almost all tracks have an option to activate progressively worsening conditions where parts are either destroyed or altered greatly, similar to how Split Second did with its activated events but you have no control over when or where they happen. They aren't completely dynamic so after a few runs through the same track you'll learn where to be and not be when things go bad. Less challenging over time but definitely impressive tech at work if nothing else.
Mode and content wise Apocalypse features a somewhat lackluster three tiered story mode with some god awful low budget animation, writing and voice acting (not even the man-god Steve Blum could pull off the awful writing), a progressive multiplayer mode with new elements to the series such as leveling, perks, unlocks, vehicle customization and a clever betting system where you can try to predict in lobby who will win and be awarded extra points if you guess right, as well as the standard solo and split screen options.
I got about halfway through story mode and then moved on to multiplayer which like the past two games proved the main reason to play Motorstorm with every race being unpredictable hectic fun and substantially challenging against skilled players though luckily rewards and unlocks are plentiful even if you come dead last frequently. Motorstorm remains my favorite racer series this generation as its particular blend of insanity and amazing presentation still has no competition. A must have for all PS3 owners who like incredibly fun arcade racers.