PS Vita/PS3 Review – MotorStorm RC

After the failure of MotorStorm Apocalypse, Evolution Studios feared they would be closed down, but Sony stood by the developer and let them try something different – a remote control car version of racing series MotorStorm. But will MotorStorm RC help rebuild the franchise, or is the change just too drastic?

The first thing to note is that this game is definitely unlike any MotorStorm before it – RC is top down and lacks the beautifully rendered crashes of past entries. In fact, if you want ‘brutal offroad racing’ on your handheld, you’re better off waiting for Arctic Edge to be re-added to the Vita store. But while the game might disappoint those just looking for classic MotorStorm goodness on the go, that doesn’t mean that RC is a bad game.

Considering that the game is only £5.49/$9.99 (the Vita version is even temporarily free), RC manages to pack a lot into such a small-scale racer. Plus, it’s one of the first games to take advantage of the Vita and PS3’s cross-play ability, meaning that you get to play the game on both systems for the same price. Saves are shared over the cloud, meaning that you can play one race on your PS3, unlock a new one, and beat it on your Vita.

While the game is PS3 compatible, it plays best on PS Vita – it seems primarily designed for the handheld. Levels load in seconds, and last a few minutes, meaning that you can quickly race about a track while waiting for a bus, or a Skyrim map to load. The only real complaint with the Vita version is that both control schemes it suggests use the right analog stick for acceleration and deceleration, while the shoulder buttons make far more sense. That’s not to say the PS3 version isn’t worth a play, though, as it is still a terrific top-down racer on the home console and allows for four player split screen racing.

The locations in the game are based on the previous titles – Monument Valley, Pacific Rift, Arctic Edge and Apocalypse – but obviously have a top down view and are far smaller. But while the game is smaller than the older games, it is by no means uglier. Evolution have taken the same level of care with RC as before, making this easily the best looking top down racer on any platform (surpassing the best looking mobile top down racer Reckless Racing). Dust is kicked up behind the RC cars, and rubber tracks are left on tarmac, helping make the game visually impressive for a budget title. As the game combines all the past locations, you’ll be treated to a bunch of different environments, meaning that you won’t get bored of the game’s looks too quickly. That said, sometimes the amount of on-screen clutter can be distracting, or the placement of large shadows can make your racer hard to see.

The game starts off slow, with a bunch of simple races as you level up, but after the first third or so, it ramps up in difficulty. RC may look child friendly, but is surprisingly tough. Due to how quick races are, one crash can lose the entire race, meaning that you have to take every corner with care. You unlock further levels based on the amount of medals you have, so, while you can skip tough levels, or get by with a bronze, you’ll find yourself replaying earlier tracks to try to get a gold and unlock the next race.

Tough AI won’t be your only competitor, though, as, like Unit 13, the game has a strong emphasis on leaderboards. If you’re connected to the internet (3G or Wi-Fi), updates will appear letting you know when your PSN friends beat your times, and you’ll be able to check out leaderboards to see where you compare to others (both Vita and PS3 times are shown together). You can then play against the ghost of a friend’s score (represented as an arrow rather than a car), but sadly can’t choose ghosts from leaderboards. What is also disappointing is the fact that there is no online multiplayer, meaning on the Vita you can only race ghosts, and on the PS3 you can only race locally. To make up for this, Evolution has added the ability to send challenges over PSN or through Facebook.

Playing against a friend’s score, or just improving your own, can be incredibly addictive. The game also shares your overall time through all events and races, meaning that you won’t be able to beat a friend just by picking the one track you’re good at. If top down racers appeal to you, this game could easily eat up a huge amount of your time, even if some of the later levels get a little repetitive. Cross-play functionality save sharing is top notch, but a lack of online multiplayer is a shame. MotorStorm RC is easily one of the Vita’s best budget games, as well as top title for the PS3.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Small price, big budget

+ A shining example of cross-play at its best

– No online multiplayer

8 out of 10