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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.
(continued from previous page) ...your favourite model and swap in your fave paint job. At this point, the initial wonder at the beauty of it all is devoured by a craving for a static 2D crayon drawing of your car, just to speed things up!
But the wonder returns as the starting klaxon sounds; a revving pack of automotive animals strain behind the line, ready to pounce as soon as the light goes green. As the short countdown ticks away, you're given your first glimpse of the astonishing environmental graphics. Festival scaffolding towers bedecked with graffiti banners and scrambling onlookers, give way to rolling tundra, disappearing off sheer cliffs or slamming into jutting outcrops of red stone ready to claim any car that strays too close. Make the most of this three second sightsee, because as the race starts, your eyes will stay fixed on the next bend alone.
Once you leap across the start line, a mad scrap ensues as motorbikes jostle for position with quads, buggies tussle with rally cars and meaty 4x4s are barged aside by giant racing rigs. Detailed vehicle models mixed with great physics, dust and mud all set against the highly realistic Death Valley backdrop make for easily the best-looking gameplay on PlayStation 3 so far. It even looks eye-wateringly beautiful on a standard definition portable TV. On an HD big screen, it's simply breathtaking.
While the setting is visually stunning and does make for a wide range of courses - from rock hopping to mud wallowing - it is ultimately all set in one geographical area. The changing time of day does add some variety, as does the different routes on offer to different classes of vehicles (bikes take the high road, rigs take the low (and I'll be in the beer tent before you!)), but it's all still desert. Evolution's own WRC series offered a wealth of different environments, each with unique hazards, such as the snow races of Sweden, the forest/countryside courses of Britain and the lush, winding mountain tracks of Spain and Italy. You won't see rain, snow, wind or ice in MotorStorm (you won't see a storm for that matter), but the tempestuous gameplay more than makes up for any weather-based shortcomings.
Tea in the (car) Park
The scrappy, aggressive, vindictive and above all, dangerous racing we all fell in love with in the early E3 cinematic is all present. The big bullies side-swiping the smaller vehicles, a soaring bike landing indignantly on the roof of a passing opponent, even a car misjudging a turn and flipping end-over-end to its doom are all here. The only thing not present is the iconic image of the doomed rider remounting his bike, in the finished game it's a respawn if you crash or come off. What makes this maelstrom all the more satisfying is that not one moment is pre-scripted. Even in single-player all the crashes happen naturally as a result of driver error, a bump in the track or pre-meditated shunt from a following competitor.
When playing the solo game, you'd be forgiven for over-looking the artificial intelligence of your competitors. You won't notice it, not because it's shoddy or non-existent, you won't notice it because it's slick, believable and above-all, fallible. Your fellow racers make mistakes, pull off stunning manoeuvres and even seem to hold grudges. Not bad for a bunch of bots.
One thing you won't get from your AI challengers is any chat, barracking or in fact any form of communication other than giving you the finger as you overtake. This bizarre silence extends to the drunken throng that is supposedly at MotorStorm for the time of their lives. No cheering, no cameras flashing, no tipsy teens flashing their tits as you pass. In fact, for a madcap event, supposedly packed with thousands of beered-up auto-maniacs it feels pretty lifeless. Dead Rising has more of a party atmosphere.
The more you look at it, the more the whole bohemian festival thing feels like it was tacked on at the eleventh hour. The non-customisable rock soundtrack, while thankfully varied to appeal to most ages, isn't tied in overtly with the festival. There's no trackside soundstage banging out some tunes that doppler as you pass, and there's only one gloomy cut scene that ... (continued on next page)