MotorStorm 2 Impressions

MotorStorm was the first PS3 game I tried when I’d returned home from the pre-launch midnight event at the local GameStation.  It was, for many, the only game worth playing for months and offered a glimpse into what the PlayStation 3 could be capable of a couple of years down the line, with incredible graphics, dynamic computer AI and a decent online mode.  So, give or take a few months, here we are, two years later and having spent a good while with the final version of the sequel, MotorStorm Pacific Rift.  Does it live up to expectations?  Does it take racing to a whole new level?  Will anyone buy it in ‘LittleBigPlanet Week’?

No, no and, er, no.  Right from the off, with the rather more muted introduction movie and the rather sparse menu options (although at least Time Trial is there from day one) something doesn’t quite feel right.  It’s almost as if MotorStorm 1 pushed the developers and the PS3 so hard that any attempt to better it in any way just wouldn’t work, so they’ve stuck to their guns and hoped people wouldn’t notice.  Sure, there’s many more tracks and a few extra vehicles, but it seems like the changes Evolution has made have been for the worse.

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Firstly, it’s almost impossible to navigate the tracks.  This might be because we’re unfamiliar with them, but we don’t remember having that problem the first time round – whether it’s the lower camera or the muddier graphics we’re not sure, but it’s hard to see where you’re going and quite often you’ll assume you’re going the right way only to get thrown back onto the real track half a mile back.  The textures all seem to melt into each other, too, and the huge amount of motion blur might make you feel like you’re going faster, but when all you seem to do is crash into rocks it’s not really worth it.

The handling seems to have taken a turn for the worse, too: the smaller craft seem quite happy to suddenly veer off to the right, or flip over when stationary – something we tried to reproduce and tie down to something we were doing wrong, but couldn’t.  We appreciate that driving through mud is tough and the sliding around is actually quite impressive (the track deformation is still there) but for the little ATVs to capsize for no reason is a little bizarre.  These things together meant that our first few races all ended in 16th place; those Trophies might take some time to collect.

It’s not all bad, though, the music’s great again, and the split-screen multiplayer is most welcome.  We couldn’t test the online modes because there was no-one else online (it’s lonely being us) but we can happily report that the load times are much improved, especially on the vehicle select screens which are wisely now all in 2D and far better to navigate.  Naturally, we’ll stick with the game and plug through it, and hopefully have done enough to bring you a review before Friday and maybe our first impressions will have changed for the better…

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