MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review

MotorStorm: Apocalypse (Available only on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-16
Genre: Racing
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Evolution Studios
Release Date: May 3, 2011
PSN – Online multiplayer

Parent Talk: The ESRB warns against crude humor, drug references, language, suggestive themes, and violence.  All that is featured in the game’s comic-style cutscenes which play in-between races.  None are overly offensive, but children should play Mario Kart over a racing game that tasks players to ram or blow each other up.

Review Basis: Festival mode completed; all online multiplayer modes sampled.

MotorStorm was among the first games to run natively on the PS3 hardware.  It looked stunning, and featured incredible physics.  The tracks changed as players raced them.  It was a technical showpiece and a blast to play.  Chaos and destruction were at the heart of this racer.  You had to tough out the rough terrain and survive the constant ramming, flips and explosions of others.  MotorStorm: Pacific Rift offered new environments and increased chaos. Here we are several years later, and the PS3 has its first original trilogy.  Evolution Studios has brought the chaos front and center with a city racing circuit that’s falling apart.  Do you have what it takes to conquer collapsing buildings, tidal waves, military helicopters firing on the street, and much more?

The Great:

Chaos reigns supreme.  Evolution Studios nailed the feelings of desperation and excitement here. There’s nothing like racing through an earthquake.  Tracks morph as frequently as cars explode.  One minute you’re on a highway, the next an earthquake hits and said highway gives out under you.  Your car flies through the air as a gas station explodes off to the side.  At the same time a hurricane moves in while tankers, water and anything you can imagine is hurdled your way.  Dust and debris spread, and three opponents don’t make it out.  Now it’s just you and your rival racing to the finish line as everything is disintegrating around you.  That’s what I call exciting.

The Good:

+ Natural progression. You begin as a rookie, playing through a three-day festival on beginner difficulty.  After his story, you replay with another character and higher difficulty.  The races aren’t identical though, and neither are the vehicles.  This creates a nice sense of balance and urges players to keep going.  It’s nice to have a clear beginning, middle and end.

+ Technically impressive.  Despite all the action and devastation, the framerate never skips a beat.  Think about this.  A city is being torn apart, and you won’t notice a single hiccup.  That’s something Evolution Studios should be proud of.

+ Vehicle variety.  You don’t select a vehicle anymore thanks to the story, but  I’m pleased to report that each vehicle type is as unique as ever. A monster truck feels heavy and easy to lose control, while a sports car enjoys the refinement you expect.  Other vehicles aren’t as refined, such as the superbikes, but for the most part players will be pleased with the vehicles’ handling, and additions.

+ Improved boost.  One of the common complaints with the series is the overly sensitive boost system.  It’s completely improved refined with Apocalypse.  The boost meter now cools down while in-air and driving over water.  This adds a new layer of strategy to otherwise chaotic races.

+ Quality A.I.  While playing as the rookie, you might wonder if it’s possible to lose a race.  That quickly changes around halfway through the medium races. By the time you’re at veteran…look out.  The challenge is fierce and rewarding, as it should be.

+ Awesome multiplayer.  There’s four-player splitscreen and fantastic online with a Call of Duty perk system.  There’s something for everyone.  In a generation where multiplayer has often been online-only, it’s a breath of fresh air to trash-talk three buddies on your couch as you try to destroy each other.  Even with four times the chaos, the framerate holds up remarkably.  And now that the PSN is back up, you can all enjoy the madness.

The Bad:

– The story.  Everyone knows that when racing games attempt to include a story, it never turns out well.  The same goes for Apocalypse.  Sure the story adds context, but it’s ridiculously goofy. No one is going to pay attention.

– As brutal as ever.  Brutal isn’t bad, but replaying races over and over because you couldn’t see anything is.  Sometimes all the destruction obscures your view.  Not only that, but occasionally you can no longer race the same path because of the changing tracks.

The Ugly:

The animated cutscenes don’t fit the game.  They look similar to what was featured in inFAMOUS, but with less pizzazz.  Maybe it’s just me, but as a comic book fan they look really rushed with very limited animation.

The Lowdown:

If you want an excellent arcade racer, you can’t go wrong with MotorStorm: Apocalypse.  Its local and online multiplayer makes the game one of the only racing games that provides for every fan out there.  The fantastic single player draws you back over and over. Take all these great qualities and mix them with the chaotic environments and you have a memorable wrap–up for the MotorStorm trilogy.  Consider MotorStorm: Apocalypse an instant buy.  I doubt however that this is the last time we hear the name MotorStorm.


4 thoughts on “MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review”

  1. I’m wondering if Sony will continue with MS or if they will move the series to the PS4. We’re still two years out for the new hardware, at the earliest, so maybe the next MotorStorm could be a launch title. Either that or perhaps Evolution Studios will create something entirely new.

  2. Oh I’d be ok with waiting until the next system. 3 of one series on 1 system is enough. You need something fresh everytime and it gets hard to accomplish that.

  3. I agree Pat. I’d be up for seeing something completely fresh and original with the PS4 to be honest. I think we’re going to start seeing a lot of series start winding down come late next year anyways. My biggest concern is with Naughty Dog. I’m really worried that they will move onto something new with the PS4 and Uncharted will become like Jak, a relic of the past. I do not want that to happen. Uncharted is my favourite new series of this gen and I want to keep playing it for years to come. Much like Indiana Jones, there’s no limit to what can be done with that series.

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