MotorStorm Apocalypse, the latest iteration of the franchise, has had a run of bad timing and poor luck. The game, originally scheduled for release earlier this spring, was delayed because its premise — earthquakes and destruction — seemed too similar to real-world events in Japan. It was the right decision and Sony should be recognized for it. Unfortunately, when the game was released last week, it was during the PlayStation Network debacle. All of this is quite unfortunate because MotorStorm Apocalypse is the best edition of the game, so far, and a really fun racer.
The action takes place in a fictional city that resembles San Francisco in many ways. In the game, there has been a massive earthquake creating an apocalyptic setting and a largely abandoned city. Aftershocks reverberate and there’s talk about how “the big one” is still on its way. All of this simply sets the stage for a MotorStorm festival that looks like what we’d see if Michael Bay directed The Fast & The Furious.
In single player campaign, there are three degrees of difficulty. Starting out as a rookie, you race through a series of events using different vehicles, which are pre-selected for you. At rookie, the degree of difficulty is pretty simple and you can make it through entire section of the campaign in a couple of sessions. But then the competition really ratchets up. Once you reach Pro, you’ll be fighting for every position and hoping for error-free races.
Vehicles come from about a dozen classes including muscle cars, choppers and the old favorites you know from previous games. Your car, truck or bike is equipped with a turbo boost that gives you an extra injection of horsepower to inch ahead of your adversaries. But be careful — boosting too much can cause your engine to blow up and you have to monitor your temperature gauge when boosting. Driving through water or flying off a jump can quickly cool your engine down and leave you ready to boost again.
There’s a minor combat mechanic to the game, but it’s nowhere near as satisfying as the one found in the Burnout series or the old Road Rash games. Still, there’s plenty to be happy with. As you scream down abandoned streets and hurtle across old shipyards, zip through parks and fly over rooftops, your environment is constantly changing. Skyscrapers tumble, bridges collapse and Mother Nature causes further destruction with aftershocks that change the landscape. Whether you are winning or losing, races are wonderfully exciting and feel completely different as you progress from track to track. A population of “crazies” have stayed behind and haze you as you race, getting in your way or throwing Molotov cocktails as you race past. You can take them out, but they aren’t worth any points, so the Death Race aficionados will only be half-satisfied.
There’s also a big multiplayer aspect to this game with track construction, race betting and 16 player races. But since PSN is still down and there’s no return in sight, I can’t report on how the multiplayer is. Overall, Motorstorm Apocalypse (the part I was able to play) is great fun and a good addition to your collection if you like racing games or the franchise. The game is rated T for Teen for crude humor, drug references, language, suggestive themes, and violence.
MotorStorm Apocalypse is $59.99 and available now, exclusively for the Sony PlayStation 3.
Disclosure: Sony sent GeekDad a review copy of this game.
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