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Motorstorm Apocalypse Hands-On [E3 2010]

To say that Motorstorm Apocalypse is visceral, chaotic and pure mayhem is almost an understatement.  Perhaps it’s just easier describing the game as a series of holy sh!t moments strung together in a racing game bolstered by some impressive 3D visuals.  Even though this is the 3rd PS3 iteration, Motorstorm Apocalypse feels like an entirely different beast as it’s a fresh take on the brutal racing the series is known for.

As we learned awhile back Motorstorm Apocalypse is set in a destroyed city which continues to crumble as you race through it. Things like collapsing buildings, trucks being tossed about or the road caving in is stuff that’s to be expected if you want to be a Motorstorm racer.  With the news that the surrounding city would deteriorate as you race, there was some thought the action in Motorstorm 3 wouldn’t be that much different from a game like Split/Second. Well even in the early build I played which consisted of a single course I’m pretty confident that Motorstorm Apocalypse will set the standard for action oriented racing games. Maybe we ought to create a new racing sub genre at this point to accommodate Motorstorm’s eventual crowning of the genre.

Even though you and the A.I. can’t trigger the mayhem, everything in the game is simply exciting.  Having a building crumble and it be an almost mad dash race to avoid the immediate impact is something that Split/Second really didn’t heavily feature. And it isn’t simply the excitement of seeing a building crumble but it’s the almost spontaneous nature of it.  Yeah, you know sh!t is going to go down but when it does it’s still a surprise merely because of how damn huge it is and where you end up. One moment you could be racing on the streets only to find yourself in a parking lot, and then followed up by a subway and then racing up the side of a freaking building.  It’s these moments that not only set Motorstorm Apocalypse apart from other racing games but from the previous Motorstorm games as well. Hell, in Apocalypse you can run over fleeing people and have them stuck on your car for a period of time. Perhaps the whole being stuck thing is a momentary bug but I’m kind of hoping it stays simply because of how awesome it is on a silly level.

Being a 1st party Sony game means that Motorstorm Apocalypse of course will be featuring 3D gameplay.  Unlike the somewhat underwhelming 3D showing of the Sly Cooper Collection, Motorstorm 3 is actually a blast to play in 3D.  Seeing debris fly towards you may be a relatively simple and almost standard usage of 3D but it’s hard to deny how awesome it looks as you’re barreling down a road battling other racers.  I must say it was a bit disconcerting at how some of the visuals, mainly the environmental textures looked a bit lower in quality while playing in 3D compared to the regular footage being displayed on Sony’s booth screen.  Nonetheless even with a minor issue like that Motorstorm Apocalypse is one of the 3D games I was rather impressed with.  

The only huge issues I had with the game in its current state is that the destruction, while epic, can be a bit too much at times.  There are moments when it’s easy to dodge a building collapsing on you but I had moments in the demo where it was almost impossible not to get lost in a dust cloud only to find myself crashing against a wall. Obviously such a thing may not be a huge issue as players will no doubt get acclimated to the mayhem with each race they participate in.

Motorstorm Apocalypse is shaping up to be one of those games where everyone should at least check it out in some form. Even if you’re not a fan the series the game is such a radical departure that it literally feels like a different game, in a good way, compared to the last two games. But for the hardcore fans of the series Motorstorm Apocalypse still retains the core traits that many love the series for: brutal racing and epic amounts of destruction. If Evolution can keep the momentum they’ve established with the series and truly deliver destruction that never repeats then Motorstorm Apocalypse could finally be the installment that brings the series the much needed mass attention it deserves.