30th March 2011 - The original MotorStorm title was actually one of the main reasons I first purchased my Playstation 3. After playing the no-holds bared off-road action, I couldn’t handle not playing more and more. But this game has come a long way from its roots, taking the action into a crumbling city on the brink of destruction. The premise is a great one, but can the new scenario and completely original take on the arcade racer genre satisfy the longing of an old fan or does it fail to overcome the risky destruction that surround it? Read on to find out.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse doesn’t try to stray too far from the base mechanics of the previous instalments - its still the enjoyable-to-drive fast paced racer you know and love. But the main idea behind the title is taking the action from the barren canyons, cliff tops and beachheads into a crumbling city during the aftermath of a horrific Earthquake. Building crumble, bridges collapse, and some survivors have been sent into a psychotic frenzy, taking it upon themselves to arm up with fire-bombs and weaponry. And if that idea doesn’t tickle your fancy, it all happens in front of your eyes as you race around, over and at times right through the chaos around you. Its an game structure that not many franchises that start out relatively calm in comparison could pull off, but MotorStorm: Apocalypse manages to make a whole lot of fun out of the series trademark racing mechanics and handling feel thrown into such a odd scenario.
Gameplay itself aside, Apocalypse also introduces a series first in a story mode. Im never one for a story in a racing game, but I thought MotorStorm could have managed to pull it off. Sadly, I was wrong, and the immature character design and half-asses storyline fail to bring anything worthwhile to the table. If anything, the required structure of a modern-day game story only restricts the possible action and overall campaign progressions structure. On the plus side, the sheer spectacle of almost each and every race more than makes up for the dodgy cutscenes and useless storyline that goes with it between each race.
Due to this Story, it seems Apocalypse has had to cut the length of the single player game short to fit in with the cruddy writing of the so-called plot. This results in a lackluster campaign that most games from other genres suffer from. However, in a similar bid to the other genres, MotorStorm make sup for the single player mode with a terrific Multiplayer portion. With unlockable and fully customisable vehicles, tons of extras and a strong community, MotorStorm: Apocalypse join the rest of the industry in relying on Multiplayer to make the most out of the full-priced retail purchase. Thing is though, given the amount of content and pure enjoyment the Multiplayer offers, it really isn’t a bad thing this game has taken on this role. In fact, the Multiplayer is by far the stand out aspect of the title, offering more than a bit of longevity and value to the package.
As I touched on before, one of the main points of this game is the destructive spectacle of the campaign. If you remember correctly, MotorStorms’ have always been some of the prettiest and most detailed racers available, and im proud to say that Apocalypse continues this trend 10 fold. With even more detailed - and a much wider selection - of vehicles, not to mention the stunning detail in the pure chaos that unfolds track to track, Apocalypse is one of the best looking games ive played in a long while.
However, as the track and city destruction comes into play, out the window goes complete control over track design. In order to keep up the awesome spectacle of the Apocalypse, it seems the developers were limited in creating tracks on par with the series originals. There are a lot less multiplayer-paths and while the environments all look top-notch, it comes across as mostly forced to make good use of the crumbling cityscape.
While I was pleasantly surprised in the execution of the mighty MotorStorm mechanics in the city, I have to say I am extremely disappointed in the direction the series has taken with audio. Off the top of my head, one of the finest and most defining things about the original title was the fact it featured such music as Reverend Horton Heat, Queens of the Stone Age and Slipknot, not to mention many more great rock acts that really gave a complete and fitting sound to the attitude of the game and its gameplay. This time around, all we are given are a heap of typical and stock-sounding Techno and Trance beats that have been infesting the gaming industry of late. Where the original game stood out with a killer soundtrack and the attitude to go with it, Apocalypse gives players more of the attitude potential with less of the perfect execution of a suitable soundtrack. It sad to see that when a heavily inspired title like Nail’d manages to take a page from the book of the game it so desperately wants to be, the original source decides to throw it all away. Poor show.
Im not very happy that its become a far-too-often thing for me to have to report that to get the most, if all, of the value out of a full-priced game, you have to play it online. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is yet another game that I have to stress this point for, as the poorly scripted an acted storyline almost ruins the single-player portion of this title, yet we now have a ton of new content and fun-fuelled potential with the great online mode. It’s an arcade racer that must be enjoyed with friends to be properly enjoyed, and its good to see the game making use of the 4-player slip screen that seems to be void in most games these days.
A racer like this only comes along once in a while. Combining the sheer spectacle of a constantly changing cityscape on the verge of the apocalypse with the race paced and gritty racing mechanics of an off-road racing game, MotorStorm: Apocalypse successfully stands out from the crowd on more than one level. It’s a real shame the soundtrack fails to match the attitude of the game like the original managed so well, but you’ll find yourself forgiving the game once you get a load of the action at hand here. A racer like this only comes along once in a while, so forgive its flaws and enjoy the Apocalypse while it lasts.
AAG SCORE: 8.3/10
+ Wonderfully Apocalyptic Scenarios
+ Great racing mechanics
+ Purely chaotic multiplayer mode
+ Looks stunning
- Poorly executed storyline
- Lackluster single-player
- Soundtrack is a let down
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott