PlayStation Universe

MotorStorm Apocalypse Hands-on

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on 3 August 2010

The world is coming to an abrupt end. An earthquake rips through The City swallowing cars and street furniture into its dark pit, while buildings crumble to the ground creating layers of dust and flying debris. Meanwhile, people are sprinting through The City in the foolish hope of finding a safe haven. And what are you doing while all this is happening? Well, you’re revving up your engine in preparation for the MotorStorm festival of course!

The festival consists of an aggressive, no-holds barred series of races through the chaotic city streets that literally disappear in front of your eyes. The pre-alpha code we played took place on one unnamed level that was set right in the heart of the city. The action was hypnotically chaotic, with sky-scrapers collapsing to the ground all around us leaving clouds of smoke to smear our view, while darkened subways crumble and fragment as we zip through them, sending debris tumbling toward our windscreens. Vehicles fly through the air in our peripheral vision as if they've been hurled by King Kong himself. And all this while a series of earthquakes terrifyingly tears up the streets and encourages us to ride faster and harder in fear of being eaten up by the Earth. Visually, MotorStorm Apocalypse is nothing short of spectacular.

This particular course showed off the simple game mechanics. You can boost with the ‘X’ button at any time during the race, but need to make sure you don’t over-heat otherwise your car burns out and you slow down. This race is all about speed, avoiding obstacles and getting to the finishing line in one piece as quick as possible. You can also smash other riders out of the way with L1 and R1 and handbrake around corners to gain an advantage – this was an aggressively fast race, yet it was very accessible.

The vehicle handled very well around corners and the controls felt tight. The feeling of speed is emphasised incredibly by the chaotic scenes around you. This particular map lasted about 1 minute 50 seconds and was a straight race from A to B through the city streets, with a few multiple paths that you could follow, but it seemed to fly by much quicker than that because there was so much going on.

There's a few scripted set-pieces to look out for too, including a lorry that lands smack bang in the middle of the road making you swerve out the way mid-race. On our second attempt at the course we were already able to shave quite a few seconds of our lap time by knowing what was coming up. Nevertheless, this is a busy environment with plenty going on that can easily put you off and one lapse of concentration saw us clipping the edge of building or spiralling out of control. You can see the chaos in your peripheral vision, but because you’re concentrating so intensely on your driving and avoiding debris and obstacles it's hard to take it all in. When we sat back to watch other people play, the crumbling city really is a sight to behold.

Based on this one level, it's already clear to see that MotorStorm Apocalypse is going to be one of the most intense, cinematic and exciting racing games to have ever graced Sony's console. We can’t wait to play more.