MotorStorm Apocalypse Review
Game: MotorStorm Apocalypse
Developer: Evolution Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation 3 Only
Ever looked at those movies depicting ruined cities and thought, “I bet driving around there would be fun”? How about those old surfing videos? Do you watch them thinking it might be cool if you could ride those waves in an off-road vehicle? If you’re one of the crazy people who just might have, then here’s a game, from Evolution Studios and Sony Computer Entertainment, that just might be up your alley.
Just like the other games in this sub-genre of racing games, the whole point is to get across that finish line, by whatever means necessary, while following some semblance of a track. Push and shove your way past your opponents or spend your time playing the pacifist and looking for the alternate routes, which almost always benefit you in one way or another. Does MotorStorm Apocalypse blast its way to the front of the pack like a force of nature or sit whimpering at the back like a summer’s breeze?
STORY: The story is definitely one of the weaker aspects of MotorStorm Apocalypse, it is very simplistic and for the most part, doesn’t make much sense. Most people will be able to understand the thrill of the race, especially in something as dangerous as MotorStorm. However, not a lot of people will be able to make sense of the rest of the background story.
You play through MotorStorm Apocalypse as one of three players, either Mash, Tyler, or Big Dog. These three players represent the difficulty levels of Rookie, Pro, and Veteran respectively. Once you’ve picked your character (read: difficulty) you’re dropped into the city to take part in the two day festival celebrating racing, speed, and apparently, the end of the world. At this point, the main objective is to get to the front of the pack, destroy your opponents and try to avoid the collapsing buildings, wild tornadoes and massive sections of track that may suddenly decide to succumb to the ravaging effects of Mother Earth. Unfortunately, a lot of the time the actual race you’re dropped in to has no obvious relation to the cutscene you just watched. This is a little disappointing as it makes the cutscenes, which already feel a little unpolished and lackluster, seem pointless and not really worth watching.
GRAPHICS: The visuals of MotorStorm Apocalypse are quite impressive. They aren’t the best thing available in the whole of the video game medium, but in the genre of racing games and especially within the sub-genre of arcade style racers,this is definitely up there with the best of the bunch. It is severely let down by the cutscenes however. It’s jarring to go from the main race, which contains nice lighting effects, blurring and explosions to the very basic style of animation that’s used in the little snippets of story that come between the races. For the the most part it just feels unfinished, almost as if these animations are the placeholders for the actual cutscenes that were meant to go into the game at a later date but never actually made it.
The “incidents” are really what sets MotorStorm Apocalypse apart from the rest of the arcade racers. Driving through suburban streets, quietly minding your own business when suddenly the road rips apart taking a couple of those nice family houses with it, is some of the most mind blowing racing seen for quite some time. Something about the fact that you’re going to have to quickly and decisively change your course, mixed with the sheer mayhem that’s occurring around you, blends together into a nice concoction of pure win.
SOUND: There’s nothing quite like hearing the roar of a finely tuned engine as it races at full speed down the street, attempting to avoid the house that just landed in your path. MotorStorm Apocalypse does this well, and the sounds of all of the engines come across well and do their job of adding depth to the game as a whole. In terms of the sound, the most impressive thing in MotorStorm Apocalypse is the music. All of the music is appropriate for the target audience in the sense that it’s a mix of the down to earth music that would appeal to the wider audience, all of which is mixed by DJ’s who don’t go too far so as to destroy the feel of the original piece of music. Just in case, for some reason, you don’t like a particular piece of music then you’re covered in that regards too. A nice skip button, something that’s so important yet often overlooked when it comes to video games.
GAMEPLAY: The main gameplay mechanic used in MotorStorm Apocalypse is basically to get to the end of the track, by whatever means necessary, before any of the other players do. You’re not given any weapons in order to do this, as you might in some other arcade racing titles, instead, the Earth itself is your weapon. More specifically, your ability to anticipate the shifts in the track and avoid the created obstacles before your opponents do. This is no simple task, and it’s easy to expect an earthquake to occur, or a building to fall down, especially if it’s not your first time on a particular track, but it’s not so easy to anticipate how the A.I. might react to the newly formed threat. That’s where the charm lies, in the unknown.
The major downside to MotorStorm Apocalypse is the same downside of almost every game of this genre, in that there’s only so many races you can possibly do before you get bored. Here, the problem is addressed by having different modes which can be played, and while these do help somewhat, they’re the same modes as seen in every other racing game. Just your standard modes, nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary, just another example of an arcade racing title.
Out of all the modes available to the player, the multiplayer is the area which will end up being used more often than the rest. The addition of a leveling system, complete with unlockable car parts and other perks means that people will keep coming back for more. Giving them small rewards along the way, and then a big reward as they level up is the way most RPG’s work and it hasn’t steered them wrong yet. First Person Shooters have had the leveling mechanic for a few years now, they shouldn’t get ALL the fun.
The major selling point of MotorStorm Apocalypse is definitely the incidents, events of a catastrophic level that can severely affect the layout of a track. This means that on a 3 lap race you may only drive on a particular route on one occasion, all subsequent laps you won’t be able to take that route because it simply doesn’t exist anymore. Maybe a building has fallen on it, maybe the earth has opened up and swallowed it whole. Either way, you’re going to have to find another way around, and fast. All of these events truly are awe-inspiring. Some of that could be attributed to recent world events and that some of the things that happen in MotorStorm Apocalypse actually happened in the world recently. That makes them hit home a lot more, increasing the shock factor when they actually occur.
LONGEVITY: MotorStorm Apocalypse will stay with most people for a good long time. It’s not a game that will be played all day, every day, but for those times when you’ve got 5 minutes spare and you can fit in a race or two, then the multiplayer aspect of MotorStorm Apocalypse is a surefire way to get some quick, fulfilling entertainment. Most people won’t play the single player mode more than once, if they even manage to get to the end that first time, but multiplayer is a good way to extend the life of any game and the MotorStorm Apocalypse multiplayer is fun filled, hectic and feature rich. All things which extend the life of the game.
VERDICT: The events themselves are really what will sell MotorStorm Apocalypse to the masses, but unfortunately the racing aspect of the game has been done before and, for the most part, executed in other games just as well, if not better. The story aspect of the game also leaves a lot to be desired.
Despite these downfalls, the incidents are spectacular and awe-inspiring enough that almost everyone will forget these issues and fall in love with the madness of the world. Every time one of the incidents happens it affects the player on a deep level, as if there’s actually a sense of impending doom. It could be all to do with the fact that the player will be forced to think on the spot when they occur, or it could be down to the primal instinct within all of us, but the fact that MotorStorm Apocalypse taps into those feelings at all makes it a little bit special.