GSY REVIEW | PS3 Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 12:45 PM

GSY Review: Motorstorm Apocalypse

GSY Review: Motorstorm Apocalypse

It took a little over two years for Evolution studios to come up with the third episode of their Motorstorm series, MotorStorm Apocalypse. This time, no more natural environments of wild beauty, the crazy drivers of the Motorstorm League have found the perfect spot for their new festival: a megalopolis tormented by the whims of the earth - ruined by earthquakes, swept by tornadoes and scorched from volcanic eruptions. While the population flees the streets of this city to try and survive the Apocalypse knocking at their doors, Motorstorm events take place regardless of the weather conditions. As is usual with Gamersyde, we are always at the forefront of technology, so our impressions on the 3D functionality of the game are part of the trip. A fine program looms on the horizon, so, brace yourself, things are about to shake up!




The end of the world is near!

The game's story (because this time there is a scenario for the single player campaign, called "festival" mode), involves a reporter who decides to make three documentaries on the racers during the competition. A competition which could very well be the last ever. These three documentaries are portraits of the three drivers that you impersonate during the game, each corresponding to a different difficulty setting. It is thus through the lens of the camera that you follow the plot. It is important, however, not to expect a very deep scenario. If you add to this some comic book style cut scenes very reminiscent of what we could see in PaRappa and dialogue worthy of some French sitcom of the 1990s (and yes, they were really bad), it is really tempting to skip the cinematics each time they occur.

Some phases of the game are not actual races, but more linear paths punctuated by a particular event. Since adding cataclysmic conditions to the mix was not enough, you can also count on a notorious band of radicals called the 'Crazies'. These lunatics are determined to put a spoke in your wheel until the Supreme Earthquake: The Big One. If you thought the menu was not spicy enough, a company of mercenaries is ready to do everything to secure the city. One may wonder what may be the interest of protecting a city that is actually crumbling, but in any case, the Dusklike company looks forward to bringing order into the chaotic streets. The two sides are very well armed (otherwise it would not be fun), it is a real civil war that will take place during certain races.



Welcome to the jungle: Survival of the fittest

In such a mess, how can you expect to race in good conditions? The attacks of the 'Crazies' or the mercenaries on your car increase the overheating of your boost. One way or another you're going to crash, whether it is because of someone firing at you or because of Mother Nature. Fortunately, you can still defend yourself by bumping into their sides. This is your only weapon against such ruthless dangers, but do not try your luck against a bigger vehicle than yours, because you might regret it be taken out yourself.

Despite all this adversity, the game is still fun, we take pleasure forging ahead in this town seemingly inspired by San Francisco. The sensation of speed is very good, reflexes are severely tested to dodge the many events that unfold before you. At the end of some races, you'll even find that your eyes have gotten particularly dry, irrefutable evidence of a lack of eye blinking (contact lens wearers, be warned).

Each track is composed of numerous shortcuts, some opened or closed by different cataclysms. In addition, in an attempt to reduce monotony, the developers have had the good idea to trigger some disasters randomly. Therefore, you may occasionally be caught in a building collapse, or get there shortly after everything crumbled, in which case you will be able to proceed more or less peacefully. A nice touch, a red display around the screen lets you know when you are on the verge of engine overheating, thus avoiding to focus on the boost HUD. On the other hand, the AI still needs work. For instance, you can never outrun your opponents and they are also capable of slowing down should you be left behind...



Multiple vehicles for multiple pleasures

Thirteen classes of vehicles are available from the beginning of the adventure, the cracked asphalt of the city enabling you to drive more contemporary classes. Indeed, in addition to the SUVs, buggies, and other monster trucks that have become regular to the series, we can now discover superbikes, superminis, supercars, chopers and even American trucks! There are enough vehicles types to vary the driving sensations from one race to another.

In the menu of the different game modes, you will find elimination races, where the driver in the last position is automatically destroyed after a fatal countdown. In its variant, the chase mode, you score points based on your position at the end of each round. If you want to get 100% of the game completed, along with the bragging rights that go with such achievement, you will need to look for 150 maps spread across the time-trials of the festival mode. These items allow you to get additional information about the characters of the game, the past of the Motorstorm League, and many other elements of the series.

For those looking for challenge, the special event mode is just perfect. It is a race against the clock where timed sectors require you to make a near perfect race. The multiplayer mode is even more complete than the single player mode. A leveling system allows you to unlock countless items to customize your character. In addition to logos and skins for your avatar, other vehicles and parts become available and allow a high degree of customization. It would have been interesting to finally find these functions in the single player game, as they give the player even more incentive to play.



In compliance with earthquake standards

If the online mode scares you, the guys at Evolution have thought of everything: local multiplayer in split screen is also possible, allowing up to 4 players to compete aggressively. Technically, the graphics engine is obviously a bit tampered if there are more than two players (see videos), but it is an acceptable trade-off considering the fun that results from these sessions with friends. As a little bonus, the ability to set the split horizontally or vertically when playing with one friend is well appreciated.

In single player mode, there's a feeling that the graphics engine may not not up to par with its predecessors, probably to focus on all the impressive destructions the physics engine now allows. Some explosions sometimes feel a bit last gen, especially when you crash. We have also witnessed some slight framerate drops here and there but nothing too disturbing. On the contrary, the loading times between each stage might annoy you as they will give you plenty of time to get a drink and even take a leak.

Particular care has been taken on the soundscape of the game, and even with a simple stereo rendering, some ambient sounds give you the impression that all hell is breaking loose in your living room. The music of the game gets more discreet each time a major disaster is about to occur, enough to make you more alert to any unusual rumbling. Musically, they abandoned the rock soundtrack from the previous games to move to something that sounds much more electro. While some tracks are very nice, others tend to be a bit too aggressive for sensitive ears. Fortunately, it is possible to skip a song in the pause menu, or even just cut the music if engines are music to your ears.



With 3D, it's like being there!

As I mentioned in the introduction to the article, we have tested the game with the cutting edge of 3D technology. Once wearing the 3D glasses, we understood the point of the cutscenes of the game: indeed, there is a very good impression of depth. The game itself also gets a lot immersive and epic, with lots of effects to surprise you and a multiplied sensation of speed. A bit confusing at first, the loading screens and the HUD are not subject to any 3D effects, giving your eyes a hard time focusing from time to time. Again, Evolution has found a way to lessen the effect of the HUD, adding a function to add transparency. The game is obviously great without 3D, but it becomes something else with the glasses on. Something even greater! It is a pity we cannot show you a video of the result, one day maybe ...

Verdict


Evolution studios do not really disappoint with this sequel of Motorstorm. The game is still fun and the sense of speed is just phenomenal. We could have feared that the game might get a bit repetitive, but the many shortcuts and random disasters that fall upon the tracks prevents it from happening. Add to that the 13 categories of vehicles and a multiplayer mode with a good leveling system and there's really enough content to spend a good number of hours fighting hard. Of course, not everything is perfect: the AI could have been improved, like the rendering of the explosions or the loading times. But as regard to the rest of the game, why be nitpicky for so minor details? To top it all, if you can also afford a 3D TV to enjoy the nifty 3D look of the game, I strongly advise you don't hesitate to hop on for the roller coaster ride Motorstorm Apocalypse has to offer.

The First 10 minutes
The three camera views
Split 3 players
Split 2 players

All comments

Commented on 2011-03-10 12:50:24
Just to let you know, we have been all pretty busy lately (I, for example, just became a dad for the first time :p) so the translation might not be perfect. We hope you will be understanding. Don't hesitate to let us know if you find anything odd. Thanks!
Commented on 2011-03-10 12:56:11 In reply to Driftwood
Posted by Driftwood
Just to let you know, we have been all pretty busy lately (I, for example, just became a dad for the first time :p) so the translation might not be perfect. We hope you will be understanding. Don't hesitate to let us know if you find anything odd. Thanks!
I was about to mention some sentences, then saw this post :P But this was a pretty funny sentence:

"Of course, not everything is perfect: the AI could have been improved, like the rendering of the explosions of the loading times."
Commented on 2011-03-10 12:59:18 In reply to digi_matrix
Posted by digi_matrix
"Of course, not everything is perfect: the AI could have been improved, like the rendering of the explosions of the loading times."
"or" not "of" indeed. ^^
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:05:45
i'm so buying this. it looks sexy, plays sexy, and i can take advantage of the 3D. just got 5.1 headset too, so it's gonna be an audio/visual feast.
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:31:01
i havent read it but is the rubberband AI still there?
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:33:25 In reply to GangStarr
Posted by GangStarr
i havent read it but is the rubberband AI still there?
Yeah, but it's less of an annoyance.
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:39:22 In reply to BlimBlim
Posted by BlimBlim
Yeah, but it's less of an annoyance.
but it's still there in pretty full effect, right? i'd hate to be able to get first place and feel no sense of urgency or tension. rubber band AI is awesome. keeps things exciting.
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:53:25 In reply to KORNdog
Posted by KORNdog
but it's still there in pretty full effect, right? i'd hate to be able to get first place and feel no sense of urgency or tension. rubber band AI is awesome. keeps things exciting.
Yeah but it's annoying when your car outclasses your opponents car in speed, only to have the advantage negated by the rubber band.

Still I like Motorstorm games, don't really like the orchestrated music approach though, it's just not Motorstorm.
Commented on 2011-03-10 13:57:45 In reply to KORNdog
Posted by KORNdog
but it's still there in pretty full effect, right? i'd hate to be able to get first place and feel no sense of urgency or tension. rubber band AI is awesome. keeps things exciting.
no it isnt, you dont get what you deserve. its a cheap tactic

if it does have it then it will be a rental for me again like motorstorm 2
Commented on 2011-03-10 14:02:06 In reply to plmko
Posted by plmko
Yeah but it's annoying when your car outclasses your opponents car in speed, only to have the advantage negated by the rubber band.

Still I like Motorstorm games, don't really like the orchestrated music approach though, it's just not Motorstorm.
but in motorstorm no vehicle "outclasses" another. they take different routes based on their speed, size and prefered terrain. the game is designed in such a way that no vehicle outperformes another. that's what's great about it. you're constantly battling the opponents, you're under relentless pressure and it's awesome. motorstorms AI is the closest aproximation to an online race i've come across simply becasue it pushes you so hard.

racing games with no rubber-banding end up being boring. you get a decent lead and the tension is gone, you're no longer under pressure, the risk goes away and you know, even if you make a mistake, you're still going to come first? that's boring to me. fighting for the finish along the entire track, knowing one screw up can mean failure. THAT is exciting, THAT is what's fun...THAT is motorstorm.
Commented on 2011-03-10 14:24:34
hows the frame rate in this one? I saw a game play video yesterday and it was running at 20 fps
Commented on 2011-03-10 14:35:04
in split screen is also possible, allowing up to 4 players to compete aggressively. Technically, the graphics engine is obviously a bit tampered if there are more than two players (see videos)

you can say that again, almost could be renamed to PS2/PSP Game Mode.
But in the end its just dissapoing visuals, because in Splitscreen Multiplayer its having the fun still in form and not downgraded (gameplay, physics, etc) is all that really matters.
Commented on 2011-03-10 14:57:39 In reply to Driftwood
Posted by Driftwood
Just to let you know, we have been all pretty busy lately (I, for example, just became a dad for the first time :p) so the translation might not be perfect. We hope you will be understanding. Don't hesitate to let us know if you find anything odd. Thanks!
Congrats for becoming a daddy ;-)
Commented on 2011-03-10 15:00:36 In reply to KORNdog
Posted by KORNdog
but in motorstorm no vehicle "outclasses" another. they take different routes based on their speed, size and prefered terrain. the game is designed in such a way that no vehicle outperformes another. that's what's great about it. you're constantly battling the opponents, you're under relentless pressure and it's awesome. motorstorms AI is the closest aproximation to an online race i've come across simply becasue it pushes you so hard.
.
No I'm pretty sure selecting the right car will "outclass" others, say a rally car will always drag better than a mud plugger, but a mud plugger can take off-road short cuts to catch-up.

The thing is with the AI, they don't need to use short-cuts or right routes for their car type, they just magically teleport where you are. This is exactly where people complain about rubberbanding, no matter how hard you try or how good you ram the AI into volcanoes , there is little reward for doing so.
Commented on 2011-03-10 15:20:35 In reply to Wanderfalke
Posted by Wanderfalke
Congrats for becoming a daddy ;-)
Haha, thanks. :)
Commented on 2011-03-10 17:53:34
Graphically i find it nothing special at all, it does the job but thats about it. It was fun, but i know for me it won't last long.
Commented on 2011-03-10 18:30:13 In reply to plmko
Posted by plmko
No I'm pretty sure selecting the right car will "outclass" others, say a rally car will always drag better than a mud plugger, but a mud plugger can take off-road short cuts to catch-up.
which is what i said...

they take different routes based on their speed, size and prefered terrain
the vehicles dont outclass each other, some drive faster on certain terrain, some can fit onto smaller sections of the track, but there is always a route that plays to the strenght of the vehicle, putting them ALL on a level playing field. play the game right, and you prevail. try to drive a truck along a narrow bike track, and you're going to fail.

i like rubberband AI, so i'm happy either way.
Commented on 2011-03-10 18:59:32
Thanks for videos and congrats for being father.
Commented on 2011-03-10 19:06:25 In reply to KORNdog
Posted by KORNdog
but it's still there in pretty full effect, right? i'd hate to be able to get first place and feel no sense of urgency or tension. rubber band AI is awesome. keeps things exciting.
This and level scaling needs to die!!

Awesome review by the way.

Congratulations on your baby Drift!!
Commented on 2011-03-11 01:17:01
Congrats Driftwood
Commented on 2011-03-11 01:51:12
so this game was released? I thought it was supposed to be mid April?
Commented on 2011-03-11 02:44:00
Anyone know if the game will have a replay editor, or at the very least a reply function? That is one thing is sorely missing from this series. So many times I have wanted to go back and watch some amazing random event that happened, but it was lost forever. If we can't edit and save them, they could at least let us watch them...
Commented on 2011-03-11 09:13:25
played the demo last night (it annoys me every time to have to download and install on the ps3) and I have to say thanks but no thanks, feels extremely outdated, bring on Dirt3. Ever since I got my Fanatec a year ago, racing for me has to be in cockpit view, otherwise I just cant enjoy it anymore.
Commented on 2011-03-11 11:06:28 In reply to michaelob
Posted by michaelob
Anyone know if the game will have a replay editor, or at the very least a reply function?
Nop, no replay function or editor in the game
Only a snap mode
Commented on 2011-03-11 12:59:39
it will recieve a mode editor in the future, which lets you create new race modes. checkpoint races? destruction focused races? who knows. but sadly, no replay mode.

this is probably the best looking 3D game i've played. which i assume is down to the game being seemingly native 1080p in 2D mode?

About the game


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