New old review
Off-road racing is a interesting genre. On each console generation there has been many off-road racer games but these haven't gotten the same success as Gran Turismo or Need for Speed series have. And I am not talking about rally games here. Motorstorm was one of the release titles for Playstation 3 and a brand new off-road game IP. Having joined the PS3 owners club only few months ago I missed this game back then. I figured it was good bargain when my local store had this for £3. And here is my take on it
It is no news that the older the console is, the better developers can utilise the hardware and create better games. Release titles often impress visually but fall short on other fronts. It is no different here. Visually Motorstorm looks really good. Even holds up to any other recent racer. Theme of the game is a big open motor sport party in middle of desert and rocky landscape. Based actually on a real location Grand Valley in south-western US. Scenery and tracks are made really well and you get a feel of harsh and desolated environment while racing through. The background horizon could have more details but you hardly notice this. Being a off-road game there is a high focus on racing on different surfaces which all look authentic enough. This being a muddy track, dusty mountain top or anything in between. The obstacles from stones, fences, wreck cars or trees also look good. If you have time to admire them that is. The various racing vehicles are fictional models but look really good and it is easy to see what has been a inspiration for most of them. The most impressive aspect of the graphics is the mud. The mud doesn't only affect the steering but also the appearance. Each vehicle starting nice and clean but after couple of muddy turns there is no recognising the bright colors. Vehicles leave marks on the mud which are visible after 3 laps even as well.
Game focuses only on racing so no funny story lines here. You get eight different tracks to race on. Well not only eight actually, getting back to that soon. The career mode goes over on 60+ races with seven different vehicles classes. Different races are set to be driven in one particular vehicle class or free of choice. Goal is just to go around the track as fast possible. Simple enough. Except that there is a catch, a fresh and interesting catch actually. Each of these eight tracks are massive with multiple routes. More or less one route for each car class. One of the classes is a motorcycle which means that you are of course more agile than any car and you should take a route that is not suited for cars to avoid any collision. Ie more narrow and with jumps. The heavier car classes are ideal for the middle of the track muddy route. Where the rally car, the fastest car, can take a longer route as long as the surface is right. This keeps the tracks interesting and it never feels like a grind (Forza singleplayer!).
This is a proper crazy chaotic off-road racer game where everything is allowed. Every route and method you can think of. Good thing here is that you can create your own routes. Ie combine the routes to create shortest/fastest one for your liking. Bad thing is that because of the big difference between vehicles and route's there is a proper rubber-band effect in place to balance the vehicle classes. Meaning your own route wont give you necessary the edge at all. Also occasionally you will get a feeling that game physics are against you as well. The AI tends to stick to the correct route for that particular car. And can be very aggressive when trying to push you out of the road. Not only pushing either, occasionally the opponent will slow you down. This is stopping in front of you. No matter if it is first lap and curve where you are battling for second last position. Opponent being in a more slowly accelerating vehicle on top of this. Qe? It doesn't add up to the fairness feel when each time you crash, even if is a small dent, you end up exploding and making a huge air flight ala Burnout style. This is fun to begin with but in the long run not. Your purpose is to get over the goal line as fast possible not to admire a vehicle explode for several seconds (or five sec's?!) in every curve. Maybe there is a skip button on the next version?
Each vehicle class got good selection of different looking and type of vehicles. Unfortunately there is no difference between the vehicles other than the appearance, at least not a noticeable. Controls are arcadey and what you'd except from such game. Both d-pad and thumbstick can be used to steer the vehicle. This is a good addition because motorcycles and ATVs are more sensitive to drive and having a less responsive controller help. On overall control there is really not much that differs the car. Biggest difference being noticeable on different surfaces. Game also has a turbo/nitro boost button which give you brief boost, but when using too much it overheat and you can end up blowing up your vehicle. This adds a a slight tactic approach as well since it doesn't help while midair. This being a driving literally off the road you can be bouncing up and down half of the track and not using the boost effectively.
I usually dedicate a own section for music and sound but there is really not so much to write here. There is a set of licensed mainstream rock and some electro music. This is tied to theme of game being a motor festival. Problem with the music is that with this hectic gameplay there is no room for music. Most times you are so focused on battling the opponents and dodging the rocks and what not that you don't even notice the music. Which was the case for me at least. Not necessarily a bad thing but not a necessity to have full set of licensed mainstream rock tracks to beef up the game. Each vehicle has its own unique engine sounds as well. These are perhaps bit tame, but as with the music that is not the point of the game.
Game being prequel and all. It is possible get this for couple of quids which makes this definitely worth getting. Game gets advertised as a brutal off-road racing. Brutal fittingly description of the general challenge level. I have no problems with a hard game, but when you don't get by with your skills and need luck as well. It doesn't feel too balanced and stops the game of being a a fun-fun game. To add one further drawback which takes the score down a tad is the loading times. These can be “brutal” occasionally. You will get even lengthy loading time when switching between car's in the pre-game menu.
If you happen to own a PS3 and have not still played this game I would recommend getting this. Although I would assume the sequel being more balanced game.