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The variety of vehicles, great terrain, physics and highly satisfying vehicle scrapping make MotorStorm the best dirt racer around.
- Wide variety if vehicle classes.
- Online is a perfect offroad racing experience.
- Long load times and lack of customization options.
- Nasty load times at vehicle selection screen.
- No sandbox mode or split screen multilayer.
Propaganda doesn't always lie. When the world first glimpsed what PlayStation 3 could (allegedly) do several E3s ago, some of the sharpest gasps and most rapturous applause came when a short, pre-rendered MotorStorm trailer took centre stage. Violent, mud-splattered racing that saw dune buggies smashing into cabins, trucks side-swiping quad bikes and an unseated motorcyclist face a cart wheeling rally car head-on. The world asked "Could PS3 really put out this kind of gameplay with those kind of graphics? Was it all just pre-rendered propaganda?"
More than talk of RSX chips, Cell Processors, terraflops or banana controllers, it was the software that had drawn people's attention to an embryonic PS3, and one of the strongest draws was MotorStorm.
Now PS3 is taking it's first faltering steps in the world (with the European sibling about to break its waters), we're beginning to see if these early gaming promises are coming true. Resistance wasn't bad, but it's certainly not the Halo-beater hinted at. While in Japan, a premature, stripped-down version of MotorStorm left Asian players looking towards Nintendo's Exite-Truck for their off-road thrills.
So was it all lies then? Was it PSP hype all over again, where enough smoke, mirrors and a Kasabian backing track could make even the most lacklustre title look interesting? Well we've played the full, Western version of MotorStorm, and there's certainly a lot of smoke and there's definitely a kick ass soundtrack. But this is one heralded PS3 blockbuster that reflects, near perfectly, the campaign trail promises made over the last two years.
It's clear from the outset that developer Evolution Studios has been itching to shrug off the pressures of the World Rally Championship (WRC) licence. In this their first non-WRC game in living memory, you are thrust into the MotorStorm event; a combination of open-air music festival, destruction derby, motocross and Wicker Man cabal.
There's no paper-thin storyline as with Full Auto 2 or the Twisted Metal series. In fact the only reason you're even vaguely aware of anything beyond the foot-down racing, is the opening cinematic showing hundreds of crusties dancing in the moonlight, buying friendship bracelets and pushing a flaming car down a hill for kicks.
But ignore the limited scene-setting, racing is likely the only reason you'll be picking up MotorStorm, and racing is pretty much all you'll get. Grab one of several starting tickets to a series of one to four races, beat those races to earn points to unlock new tickets. Grab another gearbox gate pass and repeat. But far from being tedious, these racing tickets are the hottest in town.
Woodstock car racing
From the outset, you are in for a feast for the eyes. Stunning high definition footage of the Nevada desert is inter-mixed with next gen visuals depicting off-road competitors blazing across Death Valley. The difficulty in spotting what's actual footage and what's from Evolution's graphics department is testament to their skills and what PlayStation 3 is capable of (and as an early title, things can only get better!).
Once into the game itself, MotorStorm's graphics continue to impress. Choose your ticket and sub-race, and then select a vehicle. Far from being a static selection screen, MotorStorm 's mechanical menu sees the vehicles individually appearing atop a Cliffhanger-esque rocky outcropping high above the desert floor. Refuse a vehicle and it plummets off the summit to be replaced by the next option. The vehicles themselves are presented in full 3D, allowing you to zoom in/out and spin around to get a good idea of your ride. Most vehicles also come with at least three custom paint jobs for you to choose from, some even change the gender of the driver!
Sadly there's no more customisation than that, so you'll often see identical versions of yourself throughout the starting grid, particularly in class-specific races (such as Buggies-only). What's more, even with the supposed speed of Blu-ray behind it, loading these 3D models and paint jobs takes an unacceptably long time - almost as long as loading an entire race - and it doesn't get any quicker once you been through the line-up once. This loading time becomes increasingly tiresome as you get familiar with the car line-up, and want to instantly flick through to your favourite model ... (continued on next page)