Giant Bomb Review

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MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Review

4
  • PS3

Sony fleshes out its chaotic off-road racing series with this rough-and-tumble sequel.

Trucks!
While the original MotorStorm was most certainly a victim of heightened expectations, its distinct lack of visual variety and an underwhelming single-player structure were still very real problems. MotorStorm: Pacific Rift makes amends for these shortcomings, and it's successful in some significant ways, making for a much more thrilling experience.

Maintaining the same Burning Man/Mad Max/Burning Max posture as its predecessor, Pacific Rift moves the action out of the desert and onto a fictional uninhabited island in the Pacific, which serves as a microcosm for a number of different, lushly detailed natural environments. You'll rip through the underbrush in dense jungles, splash across white-sand beaches, skitter around lava floes, navigate the rusted-over remains of an abandoned WWII military base, and more. One of Pacific Rift's biggest strengths is how wide-open and organic the tracks feel. Rather than feeling like you're going through race tracks that have been skinned to look like rare exotic locales, you get the sense that some people showed up and decided that the shale-covered cliffs surrounding this active volcano would be a great place to stage a race.

This willful inconsistency does wonders for the game's authenticity, and lends the game a certain danger-of-the-unknown, but its real impact is on how Pacific Rift plays. Like the original MotorStorm, races more often than not feature a number of different classes of vehicles competing at once. Ranging from motorcycles to big rigs, there's a good variety to how the different classes handle, though they all have a certain slippery quality to them. The tracks themselves play off this diversity with constantly diverging paths that are better suited for one class or another. You'll find narrow clearings that only a motorcycle could get through, deep waters that would sink anything other than a mudplugger, or rocky terrain that require the large, soft tires of a monster truck to traverse.

Cars!
Regardless of what you're driving, or where, engine temperature can be a concern, and riding on the turbo boost for too long will cause your vehicle to explode. You can lower your engine temperature more rapidly by strategically plowing through shallow pools or waterfalls, though close proximity to lava will cause it to rise. It's a pretty minor aspect of the action, but it's something to consider. The surfaces you'll encounter on the track include mud, sand, loose gravel, shallow pools, and volcanic rock, none of which provide particularly reliable traction, regardless of the class of vehicle you're driving. The inability to divert forward momentum into another direction with much precision can be a source of frustration at first, and it's a style of racing that can take some getting used to. It's also one of the defining characteristics of Pacific Rift, and it helps intensify the sense that you're constantly on the verge of flying wildly out of control.

Actually flying wildly out of control, though, isn't as satisfying as it ought be. Vehicles will bust up as you rub against other racers and bits of the environment, earning dents and shedding fenders and bumpers along the way, and your chassis will crunch up like an empty beer can when it slams into an inconveniently placed boulder, but something about it lacks weight. Part of the problem is an inconsistent sense of durability--you can take a jump that drops you a couple hundred feet and keep rolling, but slide into a corner just a little too aggressively and you'll be treated to a slo-mo shot of your vehicle turning into scrap.

Additionally, Pacific Rift doesn't make it explicitly clear which path you should take depending on your vehicle class, and there will be moments when you're on a new track and simply unsure which direction is forward. To its credit, the game takes its time ramping up the difficulty, giving you plenty of time to get accustomed to the flows of the different tracks. Though, with twice the number of tracks as the original MotorStorm had on the disc, each one jam-packed with alternate routes and shortcuts, you could spend a long, long time trying to master all of them.

Bikes!
The single-player progression in Pacific Rift divides the tracks into four elemental themes--earth, air, fire, and water--though every track features plenty of all four. You can hop between the four sections at will, though the number of races you'll be able to take on are limited to your rank, which is bolstered every time you place in the top three positions. You'll rotate between straight two-lap races, elimination races, and timed checkpoint races, and you'll often have limits put on which classes of vehicles you can choose from. It's not an overly ambitious structure, but it remains lively throughout, and really, the racing speaks for itself.

The online multiplayer gives you a choice between ranked and “casual” races, with ranked races earning you bonuses like new driver skins as you progress. You can choose your track, the number of laps, the time of day, and which vehicle classes you'll allow when you create your own online race, but that's about the extent of the online features. That said, I found the online in Pacific Rift hugely satisfying, largely because of how smooth it runs. Even when racing with the full 12 players, all of them flying around at incredible speeds and barreling into each other, the only thing that made it apparent that I was playing online was the relative aggressiveness of the drivers.

It still doesn't live up to the unreasonable expectations set by those early Sony E3 trailers, but MotorStorm: Pacific Rift feels much, much closer to realizing that vision than its predecessor. As an off-road racing game, the format is simple, but the execution makes for a wild ride.
60 Comments
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Edited by Tearhead

... lol

Posted by Broman6015

You got Mirror's edge in my motorstorm

Posted by Stealthoneill

Ok Im confused... LOL Mirrors Edge or MotorStorm... You decide..:P

Posted by heavymtlhead

Mirror's Strom coming this fall on a Playbox near you!

Posted by OwnlyUzinWonHan

Obviously this is a hot new collaboration guys/ladies.

Welcome to the future!

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

They are practically the same thing. Go forward, go fast......

Posted by Jawshua

i r cunfussed

Posted by Rotnac

i want what he's smoking. XD

Edited by ieatlions

lol i think mirrors edge is

chaotic off-road racing series
set in the pacific rift

and is this breaking embargo?

Posted by sofakingcool

ummmmmmm 

Edited by Mattalorian

Wait, what?
Hmmm, perhaps Mirror's Edge takes place in the Pacific Rift universe...?

Posted by 9mmfistcuffs

wow, that looks and sounds nothing like the demo...

Posted by TDot

She turns into a car!

Posted by GalvanizedNails

lol the subtitle on the mirrors edge review scared me :/ i didnt know this had off-road racing!

Posted by Joshy

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i was really looking foward to mirrors edge review lol!

Posted by Duskulblaka

I don't even know what to say...April Fools!

Posted by MassiveDuck

I'm relieved to find out the new direction the game took shortly after the demo came out, personally, now i can get the story without the motion sickness.

Posted by dsplayer1010

Wrong game

Posted by TurboMan

you can play Faith as a motorcycle, or a monster truck

Posted by Antipunk217

I was kind of disappointed that mirror's edge only got 4 stars.....but I guess the mistake gods are on my side

Posted by mako468

lolzercotperbbq wait so is mirros edge the shit or not? casue i`d buy the demo for like 10bucks

Posted by Milkman

LOL Wut?

Posted by Sneaky_Gopher

Well, Mirrors Edge is an off road game...

Posted by ISmoochyI

i didn't know Mirrors Edge had cars in it? hehe :)

Posted by PartTimeNinja

Damn! They really changed Mirror's Edge.

Posted by aurahack

Definitely one of the better mishaps I've seen in ever. Way to be, guys. XD

Posted by artofwar420

WOW, didn't see Mirror's Edge would turn out to be an off-road racer. Crazy times we live in.

Posted by Zaapp1

Good job, reviewing 2 games with the same review is genius!

Posted by yellownumber5

LMFAO.  I thought the subtitle was some wierd analogy to the racing style of mirrors edge.  Then popped open the review to see monster trucks and couldn't stop laughing for a minute.  I didn't expect this booboo.  now I'm chilling out and can actually read the review.

Online
Posted by RHCPfan24

What the fuck?  I hope you fix this!

Posted by BawlZINmotion

Haha... Oops.

Posted by Thordain

Wha? No Motorstorm in Mirror's edge?

Edited by zitosilva

I told you all many times Mirror's Edge would be innovative. Who would've thought by playing the demo that the game was in fact a off-road racing game? That's EA for you.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Lmao Wtf!

Posted by Kohe321

wups :D

Posted by Arkthemaniac

The first ever "Giant Bomb Fail".

I knew it would be Ryan.
Posted by TheGTAvaccine

lulz

Posted by VASK0

It's OK...everyone makes mcsteaks

Posted by DragoonKain1687

This requires a big lol next to the FAIL board. Anyway, good review, and to miss is human.

Posted by Ryan

Damn! That's what happens when you write your MotorStorm: Pacific Rift review while Mirror's Edge is on the TV. That one's all me, folks!

Staff
Posted by Neurogamer

Umm... I guess it's easy to confuse 'em, really...

Posted by the_purgatory_station

LOL

you guys are nuts

Posted by yellownumber5
awwww. you fixed it.  good times.

Something didn't feel right about the first motorstorm.  your review makes me curious about this one.  hope sony puts up a demo soon.

*ponders* Dirt looking for red stuff.. haha
Online
Posted by Arkthemaniac

Oh Ryan, you drunk.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Haha thats understandable, i do that sometimes, one thing is on the brain and one thing is on the..err..actions...oh i dunno, all im sayin is i fuck up like that too!

Although i was sad because i thought someone at Gaintbomb actually likes Mirrors Edge for once...

Edited by shockwave

Anyone catch a screenshot of the error? I missed it... this is Giant Bomb history here, people!

Posted by jyurakyumihawk

Waaa?? Mirror's Edge? Fail review? WTF just happened here?

Posted by VGChampion

For you Shockwave.

http://i201.photobucket.com/albums/aa125/RKupfer/Picture1-2.png

Posted by jakob187

Ryan, you silly goose.  

Posted by Kraznor

I'm really confused, whats all this about Mirror's Edge?

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