E3 2010: Hands-On With MotorStorm: Apocalypse in 3D

By Jordan Douglas on June 23, 2010, 12:07PM EDT

In the lead up to E3, Sony announced the third installment in the MotorStorm series, Apocalypse, as part of their large first-party lineup. Sony put a great deal of emphasis on 3D gaming at this year's show, and MotorStorm: Apocalypse was one of their main titles showcasing the technology. How did it preform in 3D? Pretty well. The nature of action packed, arcade racing gave Evolution (the developer) plenty of opportunity to implement 3D in interesting ways. Alongside that, we got to check out the new urban environments in Apocalypse, to see how that's changed MotorStorm's racing dynamic.

3D in MotorStorm: Apocalypse is implemented in several ways. The most noticeable from the start is the degree of separation between your car and the background. Apocalypse really makes you feel as though you're barreling forward. Crashes also make a considerable impact in 3D, as debris frequently flies out of the screen past you. Overall, the 3D effect in MotorStorm: Apocalypse is implemented really well, but it only serves as a visual bonus. Nothing I saw was convincing enough to run out and buy all the necessary, expensive hardware.

Aside from 3D, Apocalypse has made several changes to the MotorStorm formula, the most important of these being the shift to an urban environment for the first time. The game takes place all over an abandoned city, and by all over I mean on rooftops, on the side of crumpling buildings, through offices, underneath the streets, pretty much anywhere you can think of. It's an interesting dynamic for MotorStorm, as the city can create even more dense environments - sometimes you'll even see a few pedestrians.

This new environment also comes with a much greater focus on epic, scripted events. For instance, players could be driving along a relatively straightforward street only to find the surface has collasped underneath them. It's very exhilarating, but also presents some challenges. These scripted events work fine in single player, because the rubber banding AI keeps everyone together. However, in multiplayer players are generally more spread out, meaning many will likely miss out on some of the action.

Overall, the MotorStorm: Apocalypse demo was quite impressive. The 3D effects definitely exceeded my expectations, but I still won't be purchasing the hardware anytime soon. The urban setting is a welcome change for a series that's already done natural environments several times, and the epic moments kept you on your toes. I'm curious to see how Evolution plan on integrating these moments into multiplayer.

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