Being a huge fan of the Motorstorm series, I made it a point to get some serious hands-on time with the latest installment in Sony’s off-road racing franchise. Not only did I not come away disappointed, I was completely blown away by how much the series has improved in all aspects.
Motorstorm Apocalypse is being developed by Evolution Studios. The studio is appropriately named considering how much their staple series has evolved since the launch of the PS3. After visiting rough, dry, barren landscapes in the first title, and more lush jungle and volcanic environments in the second, there wasn’t much else the series could cover in terms of terrain. So the team decided to take the off-road racer to the streets. These aren’t your normal streets, or race tracks though. Instead you’ll be racing on post-apocalyptic city streets with utter chaos at every turn. Skyscrapers collapse and crash down right on top of the track with your car only narrowly making an escape. Terrified pedestrians run through the streets, but don’t bother dodging them, you won’t have time to waste as every second could mean not only the difference between winning or losing, but life and death as well.
The gameplay has been improved dramatically. Turns are much tighter and the boost meter is longer allowing for even more strategy. You’ll need it too, as so much is going on at all times, you’ll need to focus on the track, not your boost meter. All the vehicles are back that you know and love, with a few new additions. Like previous Motorstorm titles, each vehicle performs better in certain terrains.
The tracks are filled with collapsing buildings, destroyed chunks of highway, dark tunnels with overturned buses, and more general chaos. We found that you really needed to play through a few times and learn your track if you wanted to place in the number one spot. Each course had different paths, some of which were more difficult than others. All paths and courses were teeming with destruction and disaster. Not your normal setting for a racing game, but it makes for an interesting and unique experience.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, Motorstorm Apocalypse is in full 3D. Out of all the games we played, it seemed to benefit the most from 3D. It was exhilarating to witness car parts, rubble, even bystanders whiz by your face as you raced on by. As buildings crumbled, they seemed to fall right toward you and out of the screen. 3D also really benefited the gameplay as well, as the added layer of depth helped you more accurately gauge turns and obstacles. Even the game’s menu and title screen logo were jaw dropping in 3D. Everything seemed to really just pop out at you.
Motorstorm Apocalypse was easily one of the best titles at E3 and if it weren’t for Gran Turismo 5, it would be the very best racer in Sony’s line-up.