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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) ...cut scene that seems to indicate music is of interest to the patrons. Few of the races actually go through any sort of spectator area, and those that do are fenced off so securely it's hard to see if anyone's on the other side of the wire mesh.
This lack of soul continues with the drivers - silent, faceless, helmeted guys and gals with all the charisma and character of a cardboard cut-out. This greyness is aggravated by the lack of customisation options beyond a few paint jobs, distancing you from the proceedings. Like them or loathe them, the Need for Speed and Twisted Metal series both had interesting characters, that if nothing else made you think there was a human (or flame-headed, murderous clown who was once human) behind the wheel. We hope the online game makes you the star, not the car.
The FlatOut series on PS2 also suffered from lack of characters, but it knew full well what players wanted to do with realistic physics, and that's mess about. In MotorStorm, despite some gorgeous cut-scene footage showing rally cars doing doughnuts and buggies doing the corkscrew jump from Live and Let Die, none of this is open to the player. There's not even a free-roam option to enjoy the glorious track and environmental design at your leisure. With next gen graphics, physics and some of the craziest track design we've seen, this is a game that is bursting with gallons of possible fun, but it's all dammed up within one cripplingly linear game mode. Fingers crossed for a downloadable sandbox mode.
MotorStorm also suffers from a lack of humour. Sure, the first time a passing biker gives you the 'finger' you'll giggle, and some of the race names will have your chortling (the Genji-baiting "Giant Enemy Crab" race is our favourite title), but the chuckles are few and far between. We got the impression Evolution concentrated on making a killer racer and anything else like personality and humour, was an optional extra.
But in spite of all the grumbles, MotorStorm keeps drawing you back in. Once you've been playing for a few hours, you'll scoff at seeing the same track you've raced several times come around again, but you'll still want to race it. It'll be a different time of day or a different class of vehicle, or even just different opposition (bikes versus big rigs is brutal), but whatever it is, you'll want just one more go.
The speed, the setting, the eye-watering graphics and the physics-laden gameplay is unlike anything you'll have experienced on PlayStation before. Like GTA, MGS or Final Fantasy on the previous generation, MotorStorm is the first "killer app" for PS3.
We're yet to see the online multiplayer in action (no fellow journalists online to race against yet), but we're hopeful this will add the lacking human-element and variety to the races. Assuming those boxes are ticked, MotorStorm will easily be the most complete next gen package we're yet to see on PlayStation 3 - it even allows you to steer using the Sixaxis' motion sensitive abilities instead of the analog stick, should you wish.
We'll bring you a review of the online element of MotorStorm just as soon as somebody, anybody, is brave enough to head online and take us on.
Trash talk 'till the sun goes down
Online has become standard these days, and with standards come expectations. When MotorStorm was lacking an online mode upon its Japanese release, it was touted as an incomplete game. Now that the game has been released in the North American and European territories with an online mode, MotorStorm becomes a buy instead of a rent.
With full voice chat capabilities, a ranking system that encourages people to keep playing to stay on top, and proper buddy support (straight from the main list on the XMB), MotorStorm's online mode is a brilliant experience. Through the use of a lobby system, one can either join or create a game. As the host, one can choose every and any aspect that will affect the race. What map to race on, what vehicles are available for use, number of laps raced, and even something as obscure as the weather and time of day are all changeable at a moment's ... (continued on next page)