MotorStorm begins much like an episode of BBC’s riotously extravagant Top Gear: when ATVs, dirt bikes, buggies, rally cars, and semi trucks compete, who comes out on top?Mud and gravel deform in real time, worn down by treads, creating divots and gouges in the soft earth. The first MotorStorm debuted exclusively for Playstation 3 in 2007, and demonstrated the next generation of arcade racing games. Vehicles shudder as their suspensions adjust to uneven terrain; parts and debris from shunts and hard scrapes litter the racecourse; mud and gravel deform in real time, worn down by treads, creating divots and gouges in the soft earth.
Monument Valley hosts the first ever MotorStorm festival, and nearly every vehicle type imaginable collides in an all out race. There are no weapons—other than guile and offensive driving—so driving skill and adaptability are required. MotorStorm can be challenging for a number of reasons: the range of vehicles that all control quite differently; the aggressive opponent A.I.; the wide-open, complex racecourses.
Levels are massive, multi-tiered monstrosities that offer numerous routes catering to the multitude of vehicle types. The lithe, but delicate bikes and ATVs can stick to the high canyon walls in order to avoid navigating the deathly carnage of competing rally cars, racing trucks, and big rigs ramming about on the canyon floor. Meanwhile, the thick, deforming mud and slop on the ground is a perfect home for the mammoth tires and high torques of SUVs, trucks, and the slow, but nigh impervious big rigs.The exaggerated damage and handling captures the constant thrill of staying in control despite the utter chaos unfolding around you. The loose, but demanding driving physics are stunning to see in action, and the exaggerated damage and handling captures the constant thrill of staying in control despite the utter chaos unfolding around you. Central to the adrenaline-soaked gameplay is the boost mechanic; much like perennial NES favorite Excitebike, vehicles can boost freely, though over boosting and overheating causes a swift, fiery demise. Knowing strategically when to boost and when to ease off becomes paramount when playing the demanding single player experience.
MotorStorm’s sequel, Pacific Rift (PS3, 2008), swapped the moody, barren desert setting for lush green islands and cascading waterfalls in the tropical paradise of Hawaii. Whereas the first MotorStorm saw wide valleys and rocky outcrops as your racing haven, Pacific Rift transposes the same action, only now with turbid rivers, massive jumps, dense jungle, and the occasional fissure of molten lava. And merciless monster trucks.
In addition to impeccable vehicle balancing, Pacific Rift added a range of monster trucks and new abilities into the racing mix. The tropical terrain allows for trees and objects to be toppled, becoming obstacles for your competitors. As the larger vehicles allow for a bit of a destructive advantage, the smaller vehicle classes get their own boon; now, bikes and ATVs are able to duck under low hanging obstructions, or perform a well timed bunny-hop to get over downed trees or wreckage.
The PSP and PS2 saw the release of MotorStorm: Arctic Edge (2009), which added a dangerous frozen twist to the series’ signature multi-vehicle mayhem. Although Arctic Edge was not developed by series mainstay Evolution Studios, it still delivered the genuine MotorStorm experience (Arctic Edge was developed by Japan’s Bigbig Studios). Despite the weaker hardware of the PSP and PS2, Arctic Edge was still roaring, chaotic fun, especially on-the-go on Sony’s special handheld.Mammoth earthquakes rip apart the race track, causing huge, game-altering changes. The latest installment in the main MotorStorm series was 2011’s MotorStorm Apocalypse for PS3. The already hectic action is elevated to a new level with the titular apocalypse creating chaos on an unseen scale. Mammoth earthquakes rip apart the race track, causing huge, game-altering changes. Where once there was a towering building one lap, the next lap it lies as rubble beneath your treads. The scenic beachside circuit, along picturesque docks and moored boats, is destroyed utterly when a formative tornado rips up planks and tosses debris around you.
Apocalypse changed up the single player game, as you no longer select a vehicle and challenge your opponents in traditional MotorStorm races. Instead, you are placed in the shoes of a three single drivers—a rookie, a pro, and a veteran—and each character tells a segment of a piecemeal narrative. While hardly a scintillating tale, the story is light-hearted and Hollywood-esque, and gives the series some much-needed character.MotorStorm’s creators at Evolution Studios have put the series on the backburner for a bit. 2012 saw the pint-sized download only title, MotorStorm: RC, which recreates the epic action, only now shrunk-down to the size of radio control toys. Versions for both the PS3 and Playstation Vita were released, and the compact iteration received a fair bit of praise for its innovative re-imagining. Since then, MotorStorm’s creators at Evolution Studios have put the series on the backburner for a bit, as the UK-based developers focus on the gargantuan task of developing a new title for the upcoming Playstation 4 hardware.
DriveClub, a tentatively launch title for the Playstation 4, brings Evolution Studio’s arcade-racing flair to a brand new racing setting focused on stylish driving and hot licensed cars. DriveClub is careful not to tread too closely to Sony’s racing giant Gran Turismo, so loose, arcade-style physics and exotic rides are expected to wow on the brand new Playstation hardware. MotorStorm has a welcome home on Playstation, and gamers familiar with the unmistakable thrill of the series are salivating at the new possibilities the next generation of hardware brings.