Review by horror_spooky
"The best racer this generation"
Debuting alongside the PlayStation 3 in 2006, the original MotorStorm was a reasonably successful off-road racing title. The game was successful enough to spawn two sequels and a spin-off on the PSP called Arctic Edge. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is the latest game in the series, and I'll be damned if it isn't the best and most underrated racing game this generation.
You see, I'm generally not even a fan of racing games. They just don't click with me. People always told me I would love Forza Motorsport 3; I didn't. While I thought it was a good game, it was just kind of boring. In fact, I feel this way about basically every racing game, with a few exceptions. I always have had this attitude that racing games are too limited in scope to be truly entertaining in most cases, and as a result, I've rarely even bothered picking one up. I am very glad that I took the time to play MotorStorm: Apocalypse, though, because it's fantastic.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse takes players off the dirt and into a city that's being ravaged by natural disasters and other horrors. The buildings are literally crumbling to the ground as tornadoes threaten to whisk racers to their death and earthquakes rip the Earth apart. The game is so damn intense that it was banned in Japan due to the natural disasters that they experienced there recently. Apocalypse really benefits from the extra horsepower that the PS3 provides because I just don't think the experience would have been nearly as adrenaline-fueled had it been on any other platform. The pouring rain looks realistic and beautifully done. When the rain splatters on the windshield, it's one of the coolest weather effects in the game. Water drips down the screen in a chillingly realistic fashion. Buildings that look photo-realistic fall to the ground just like they would in real life, thanks to MotorStorm's awesome damage and destruction system. The weather effects in this game are probably better than the weather effects in any other game that I have played, and I've played a lot of games.
Cars take damage during the course of the race and become more and more worn and torn. When they explode, individual parts fly off in different directions; and even the driver might, too. Dozens of pedestrians are running in terror from the crazy ass adrenaline-junkies racing on this doomed island. It's fun to hit them with your vehicle and watch them go flying like a ragdoll across the level. Wrecking in MotorStorm is a blast because of all these cool physics and the very impressive damage system. Couple this with the aforementioned weather effects and environmental damage that occurs, and MotorStorm: Apocalypse is one of the best looking racing games this generation. To say MotorStorm: Apocalypse is visually impressive is the under statement of the year.
My only issue with MotorStorm: Apocalypse's graphics is during cut-scenes. Instead of just having a generic career mode or something, Apocalypse has three distinct storylines that follow the adventures of three different characters while they participate in races on the island for a racing festival. These cut-scenes are presented comic book-style, which seems like a wasted opportunity to me. The feel of the game is a gritty and serious one, so having brightly colored cartoons tell the stories of the characters makes it hard to take it seriously. It becomes even more of a shame when you consider that the cut-scenes are actually telling a decent story.
Each character has their own main storyline and problems, but they also intertwine since they're all taking part in the same racing festival. Mash is a rookie to the racing, and was a stow away on the carrier that led to this island. He's trying to make a name for himself in the name of his father, who was a major fan of these crazy racers. Tyler is a violent rebel, and operates with a gang called the Brotherhood. His story is all about betrayal and revenge. Big Dog, on the other hand, is the proprieter of this violent festival. He looks like a hippie, but he has a heart of gold. Big Dog's storyline is the one that wraps everything up, and it's probably the best and most interesting. Apocalypse also uses plenty of cliffhangers during this story to leave doors wide open for a sequel that really hope is pursued eventually.
Besides the storyline, Apocalypse has a variety of other game modes to enjoy. There is a "Hardcore" version of the campaign that requires you to come in first in each race to unlock the levels. There is Time Attack, though it's more about just beating your own scores. You can download ghosts of the developers racing and race against them, similarly to Mario Kart DS. The multiplayer is also extremely fun. Apocalypse allows four players to play the game in split-screen, and the split-screen can be taken online. Unfortunately, I found it difficult to find an online match, but when I was able to, the online was a blast.
There are only a few different race types. There is a regular race, and there is also Eliminator. Eliminator reminds me of Burnout. Basically, whoever is in last place is eliminated after a timer starts counting down. This keeps going until there is only one left. There is also a Chase mode, but for no real good reason, it's only playable in private matches, and isn't all that fun. The next game in the series really needs to expand the different gametypes available to play to ensure that the next MotorStorm game is truly the greatest racing game this generation. How about a battle mode with weapons or something, Twisted Metal-style, to take advantage of the physics and destruction possible in the game? Just a thought.
Players can choose from a ton of different racers to represent them in-game for multiplayer. While it's only a superficial thing, at least the option is there. Players can also customize the look of the different vehicles they drive in the multiplayer. New parts can be unlocked by completing special challenges, kind of like the challenges in Call of Duty. Speaking of being like Call of Duty, the online even has a betting system in place, and on top of that, there are perks! New perks are unlocked by progressing through the multiplayer by earning experience points and new ranks. These perks don't make a huge difference in the gameplay, but it's interesting how the elements and mechanics of a first-person shooter have been so popular that they have reached out to practically every other game genre out there, including racing games.
I think the reason I love this game so much is that it doesn't try to be a realistic racer. It's all about being crazy and wild. Have you ever driven an ATV on the side of a skyscraper? No? Well, now you can with MotorStorm: Apocalypse. There are a bunch of different vehicles available, that range from monster trucks to dirt bikes to dune buggies. The vehicle variety is nice--the arcade-style gameplay in general is nice. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is at its best when it's being absolutely ridiculous, both in terms of the gameplay as well as the graphics and audio.
There's a lot of content here to enjoy. Apocalypse's three main storylines will take roughly ten hours depending on skill level, and after that, there's still the multiplayer modes. The multiplayer is incredibly deep as well and will take a long time for completionists. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is an excellent game when it comes to getting bang for your buck. Oh, and top of all that, there is trophies in this game as well!
I haven't enjoyed a sports game like this since the glory days of the Tony Hawk series. I hope MotorStorm doesn't go the route of Tony Hawk, and I hope the series is here to stay. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is probably the best game in the series thus far. For what I strongly feel is the best racing game this generation, it is being criminally underplayed and practically ignored. If you're a fan of racing games at all or if you've enjoyed any of the other games in the franchise, what's keeping you from picking this beauty up? MotorStorm: Apocalypse is a must-have title on the PS3.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 06/14/11
Game Release: MotorStorm: Apocalypse (US, 05/03/11)
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