MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review
- Posted April 1st, 2011 at 15:37 EDT by Steven Williamson
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Stimulating, frustrating and visually spectacular, MotorStorm: Apocalypse takes arcade racing to a whole new thrilling level.
- Fast-paced, aggressive races really get the blood pumping
- The carnage around you is quite spectacular
- Rewarding multiplayer levelling system
- Lighter vehicles spin-out too easily
- Inconsistent A.I. Sometimes they are too good, others times they barely try
- The frustration of crashing frequently and being placed in last position.
If you’ve ever played a videogame that has given you the urge to throw your controller through your T.V. screen with rage, then beware: MotorStorm: Apocalypse has the power to turn that compulsion into reality. However, it’s testament to its exhilarating gameplay that no matter how frustrated you get with crashing your vehicle – and you will, a lot - you’ll still be compelled to keep coming back for more. The third exclusive PlayStation 3 entry in Sony’s off-road racing series may well be the most frustrating and chaotic game in the series thus far, but speeding around the tracks at such a frightening pace – not to mention having to react so swiftly and intuitively to how the unfolding apocalypse creates such unpredictable mayhem all around you - is quite a feast for the senses. Indeed, it’s this unforeseeable madness, coupled with some bonkers level design, which makes MotorStorm: Apocalypse so different to any arcade racing game you’ll ever play.
Evolution Studios has tweaked and built upon the framework of previous MotorStorm games to deliver an arcade racer full of thrills and spills, but one that feels quite different from its predecessor. The main change is the setting. Gone are the natural environments from MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and in their place is an equally alluring and stunningly designed urban location that deteriorates and breaks up as you hurtle around its crumbling roads. As the name suggests, MotorStorm: Apocalypse is set at a time when the world is on its knees. An apocalypse is nigh and nothing is going to stop nature from carving its path and ripping the fictional city to shreds. While earthquakes tear up the streets sending buildings toppling to the shattered earth, a tsunami crudely batters the coast-line and tears up everything in its path. These incredibly chaotic scenes are the perfect environment for the extreme racers, who queue up to take part in the MotorStorm Festival.
It's an enticing premise that doesn’t really need elaborating on, but Evolution Studios has made the odd decision to add a storyline that runs parallel to the single player Festival mode, telling the tale of three thrill-seeking racers. The stylish cartoon-like scenes prior to each race make for a good excuse to split the campaign into three difficulty levels – namely, Rookie, Pro and Veteran - but largely it adds nothing to the game other than to give your hands and eyes a well-earned rest before you start off on another intense race. Nonetheless, it’s quite clever how the storyline crosses over into the gameplay. You learn early on that two factions are battling against each other while the world collapses around them - taking to the air in armed choppers and with guns onto the city streets to defend themselves. This does add another dimension to the gameplay, because not only do you have to watch out for bridges collapsing, tankers tumbling across the streets, and even an unhinged Ferris wheel spiralling out of control, but you also have to keep an eye out for cross-fire from these two warring factions. This combination of nature’s power and armed loonies makes for a series of thrilling races.
The main Festival mode sports a rigidly linear set-up, typically involving a set number of races over the space of two days across each of the three difficulty settings. The main reason it feels quite restrictive is that you can't progress from each race until you've landed a top two or three position. It doesn’t get off to a particularly thrilling start either. Rookie mode is so easy you can die a dozen times and still get over the finish line first. However, by the time you’re onto Veteran mode, the courses are fraught with eye-popping set-pieces that ensure you’ll be re-setting your vehicle frequently and banging your fist forcibly with every frustrating crash. Somewhere in the middle, perhaps in Pro Mode and the beginning of Veteran - when the A.I. isn’t so aggressive - MotorStorm: Apocalypse really hits its sweet spot.
If you do manage to stay on your vehicle for any sustained period of time, avoiding real-time environmental deformation on the grandest of scales, it’s an electrifying ride. And even if you don’t, the thrill of the chase and the speed in which ... (continued on next page) ----