When I first got my PS3, Motorstorm was one of the first two games I had on the system.
The following year, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift was released – a worthy sequel that ticked all the right boxes when it came to surpassing it’s predecessor.
In fact, I enjoyed both games so much I even went out of my way to treat myself to Motorstorm: Arctic Edge on the PSP. A console that had up until then, been collecting dust on my shelf for the last few months. So, to say I am a fan of the series is something of an understatement.
I love the series – for me, it represents everything that a racing game should be: fast, extreme and exciting. You petrol-heads can keep your earnest Gran Turismo games – I want fast-paced racing action on a cliff’s edge, with plenty of crashes and pumping rock music playing in the background.
With Motorstorm: Apocalypse, the developers (Evolution Studios) have changed a few things – and sadly a lot of it is not for the better.
The first (and most bizarre) thing I have got to get out of the way is the introduction of a story mode. Why this was introduced I have no idea, as it certainly does nothing to benefit the game.
It tells the story of a character that you control– Mash – who has gate-crashed the event. These cutscenes make a desperate attempt to appears comical and cool, but sadly come off as forced and completely redundant.
Maybe I’m missing something, but for me what has made the Motorstorm games so great is their “pick up and play” quality. I don’t need to know the story nor relate to any character – I just want to pick up the controller and finish the race, getting from A to B as quick as I can.
Luckily, these scenes can be skipped – something I recommend you do if you want to get to the fun stuff as quickly as possible.
The courses themselves are what you would expect from a Motorstorm game. However, this time round the event organisers have picked a city that is in the process of being ripped apart by an earthquake of epic proportions.
With buildings collapsing, bridges falling and the ground shaking, it’s a health and safety nightmare.
It all makes for an exciting experience, and the destructive element certainly adds to the trademark pace of the Motorstorm series. As statues and structures crumble around you no lap is ever the same, and quite often the course will force you to change your tactic. However, once you have completed a few course, the novelty of the shaking screen will begin to wane.
Aside from the story mode, there’s also the “Wreckreation” section, which the hosts the multiplayer modes and the option to set up a quick race.
Featuring a lot more flexibility, the quick race mode allows you to play any track you like, in any setting. So if you want to try one of the harder levels in the eliminator mode, you can.
However, not all vehicles are available to you and to unlock them you will need to play the story mode.
You can also set up a multiplayer race, either online or as a split-screen match – something you don’t see enough of these days.
The game handles pretty well, thanks to the simplistic controls. Like the other Motorstorm games your vehicle comes equipped with a booster that, when used in short bursts, can really help you out. Of course, used at the wrong moment it can cost you the race, when you smash into the side of a building. Also… overuse can lead to your vehicle exploding.
Visually the game is pretty strong and hard to fault. My only gripe is sometimes the night-time levels are a little too hard – due to the lack of light and the sheer speed of the game.
Audibly the game does pretty well too. The engines all sound the part, as do the crumbling skyscrapers.
However, for some reason, this time round the developers have decided to give the latest Motorstorm installment, a completely unique soundtrack.
Unlike the first two games, where you’d be speeding along to the likes of Primal Scream or Spiritualized, this time it’s to an unfamiliar piece of dance music. It doesn’t sound too bad, but the familiarity of a decent rock song is sorely missed.
Overall, Motorstorm: Apocalypse is a bit of a disappointment. The race sequences are fun, but after a while the earthquake novelty wears a little thin, and it left me longing for the pacific paradise of the previous Motorstorm game.
Verdict: 6.5 out of 10
– Fast-paced racing
– Graphically strong
– split screen multiplayer
– Cutscenes that belong in a Guitar Hero game
– Earthquake sequences can get a little tiresome