Hidden Gems: MotorStorm: Pacific Rift

By Jordan Douglas on April 12, 2012, 5:16PM EDT

Released back in the fall of 2008, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift was, in my opinion, the pinnacle of Sony's gritty racing franchise and remains one of the most underappreciated racers of the current console generation. It successfully built on the solid foundation of the original MotorStorm - adding much-needed functionality, expertly-designed tracks and more generally satisfying carnage - to create an experience that could appeal beyond the usual racing audience.

As Tom Selleck would say, "I know what you're thinking." A franchise developed and marketed on a blockbuster-sized budget, backed by one of the Big Three console makers, can't possibly be considered a hidden gem! Can it? Well, while game-goers will be unlikely to mistake a MotorStorm title for one of the latest additions to the Humble Indie Bundle, I've always felt the series has been slightly overlooked and underappreciated both critically and commercially.

Simply put: Pacific Rift pulled me into an obsessive state while playing it. I would frantically repeat tracks to get that one elusive gold medal, with the eventual goal to get that platinum PlayStation Network trophy. All of that manic behaviour must count for something, because I wouldn't even consider myself a fan of the vast majority of racing games on offer.

Before getting a bit too ahead of ourselves, a little background on the MotorStorm series might be helpful. The original MotorStorm was one of the early contenders for the "system-seller" label when the PlayStation 3 launched back in 2006. It promised gorgeously-rendered off-road environments, elemental physics, unique vehicle classes, and much more... In the end, it delivered on many of these lofty promises which gave the series a solid foundation to build off of going forward. Pacific Rift soon followed on PS3, in addition to the PSP off-shoot "˜Arctic Edge', the third console iteration "˜Apocalypse', and Vita/PSN bite-sized "˜RC' downloadable.

Out of all these contenders, Pacific Rift remains, by far, my favourite from the series and the arcade racing genre overall. It built on the successes of its predecessor and added splitscreen multiplayer, among other things, to truly make MotorStorm a crowd-pleaser. My friends and I would come for the four-player splitscreen action and stay for hours on end for the incredible variety of tracks and well-balanced vehicle classes.

Bottom line: MotorStorm: Pacific Rift had it all, and even though it was overlooked by many, it's worth a retrospective look.

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