When the PlayStation 3 originally came out, there were two franchises which acted as the poster boys for the console. The first was Resistance, the second was MotorStorm. Both of those titles sold millions, but the next iteration of MotorStorm failed to live up to the initial experience; Pacific Rift just lost that cutting edge. Third time's the charm though, and Evolution Studios are back with MotorStorm once again. This time we're taken to a post-apocalyptic world, with more carnage than you can shake a stick at - it's a massive roller coaster of a ride.
In an attempt to give the game a bit more personality, a story has actually been written in to explain the gameplay. Typically, MotorStorm was just based around an event, which thrill-seekers would take part in. But with MotorStorm: Apocalypse, we have that premise, but also more background as to what exactly goes on in the lives of three specific racers: Mash, Tyler and Big Dog.
Before each race, you'll be greeted with a cutscene, that more often than not, has absolutely nothing to do with the race you're taking part in. For that reason alone, the story seems quite redundant. There are occasionally races which have some meaning behind them though, but these are races against the clock or just races for the sake of racing, with no way of losing. In many ways, it's nice that they tried to add some depth to the entire affair, but it would have been nice if it was given a little bit more substance.
If the franchise continues after this game, we really need to see some of the same characters returning, or at least characters with some ties to those found in MotorStorm. Only one of the storylines actually has a proper conclusion, suggesting that there was more to be told, so there is more scope there if they want to use it. They just need to do it better next time.
Gameplay is what MotorStorm wants to be judged on though. even if there is a superfluous story thrown in there as a slight distraction. And it's a good thing too, as the gameplay is just a solid as we've come to expect. The only problem though, is that the core gameplay hasn't really changed much from the original title. The boost system employs the changes which were introduced in Pacific Rift, but that's about it; the handling of the vehicles feels the same as the original title.
It's not necessarily a bad thing, the original MotorStorm was great. But we're now quite a few years on, and the drifting still doesn't feel all that great.
Where MotorStorm has changed though, is the environment. The courses are absolutely insane in MotorStorm: Apocalypse, and this is really what makes the entire experience. The only downside is that the game largely takes place on non-deformable terrain types. There's very little hard mud, for example. What this means, is that the vehicle you're using doesn't really matter that much, something which is highlighted by the fact you can't even choose your own vehicle throughout the entire single-player campaign.How Apocalypse gets around this, is through the actual stage altering over time. There have always been multiple routes to take, but on quite a few courses, these routes will dynamically change. Because the game takes place in a massive natural disaster, skyscrapers collapse, freeways get altered and objects get thrown at you. And it's your ability to react to these changes and adapt, that will determine whether you win or lose. It makes for a massive thrill-ride, as you might be winning, only for the road you're on to rip-up in front of you, causing you to smash straight into a wall.
Despite the fact the boost system is the same as Pacific Rift, its implementation also makes a lot of sense here. Due to the event largely taking place in a derelict city, there are broken water hydrants and fires everywhere. The military also plays a huge part too, as they will attack you, causing your boost meter to increase. There's something to be said about a game that has you racing around at break neck speeds, in the middle of a massive tornado, while there's also a huge army invasion taking place.
What makes it even better though, is that the presentation is absolutely spot-on. All of the destruction looks brilliant and they're well aware of it - having you focus in on certain events when they take place. The sound is also great, with the different vehicles producing very raw engine noises. Stereoscopic 3D is also available, if you want to make driving through a skyscraper that's on fire even more hair-raising.
To further the experience, MotorStorm: Apocalypse features a fully fleshed out multiplayer mode. There are a ton of levels to try and plough through, with different vehicles and vehicular modifications to unlock. You can also equip perks too, with the option to have a handling perk, a boost perk and a combat perk.
For even further replay value, there are medals to unlock for performing certain feats, challenges to perform with each vehicle, and even cards that can be collected throughout the single player campaign - they really did think of everything.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse really makes up for the disappointment of Pacific Rift. It features some stunning track design and the same thrilling gameplay experience. It's just hindered by a single-player story that lacks any substance and a lack of real change to the core gameplay since the original PlayStation 3 launch title. Apocalypse is still worth checking out though, as there's a ton here to keep you occupied for a long while.
|The course design is spectacular.|
|The dynamically changing environments have to be seen to be believed.|
|There's a ton of replay value.|
|Handling hasn't really changed much since the original game.|
|Story's lack of substance stops it from really adding anything.|
|You can't choose your own vehicle during the campaign.|