[GAMING] Motor Storm: Pacific Rift

Republished with permission of gamepeople.co.uk game reviews.

The long awaited Sequel to Motorstorm is here. Created by Evolution Studios, I was very excited to have a crack at Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. It had caught my eye as I waited for the subway each day and stared at a giant advert for the game featuring a Monster Truck on a beach. The game makers had promised a much improved version of the previous offering, which had generated a fair amount of criticism but was vastly playable.

Personally, I am a big lover of racing and driving games. Over the years I’ve played and completed most of the top titles. I never played the previous incarnation of this title, but I’m informed it was based mostly on desert land. This version is based on a remote pacific island, with large lush swaths of vegetation. One thing to note is that it really does like like a Pacific island. I hear you ask, how do you know, Hedley? Well I was lucky enough in ’86 to go to Fiji and Hawaii, if that helps back up my claim. Also, I’ve been watching a lot of Lost on TV, and the island certainly looks like Hawaii. In fact after watching the intro sequence the scene is set: Mad Max meets Lost.

The game focuses on the player taking control of one of several vehicle types and racing against other competitors or completing one of various challenges unlocked along the way. It can be played in up to 4 player split screen; online racing is also available which is a MUST for a game of this genre. The vehicle types vary from small compact buggies to motorbikes and Monster Trucks. Big Rigs are the largest of all and they are a lot of fun to use as you can trash structures and vegetation. For those with a deft touch, the buggies have the ability to bunny hop and duck in order to avoid pesky branches and other paraphernalia.

There are around 16 different tracks, but to keep the boredom at bay you need to master racing in each of the zones: fire, water, and earth. There are stacks of different ways to traverse each course – depending on your selected type of vehicle. Cliffs, bridges, drops, jumps, and volcanoes are everywhere, and at up to two minutes a lap, you need plenty of practice to master each level and unlock the next. Smaller vehicles tend to go a bit faster, but you will get taken out by the bigger rigs if not careful. Jabbing at the shoulder buttons allows to ram to the left or right respectively, or actually punch if you are on a motorbike. This leads to a lot of capers, especially online. Great fun.

Driving the vehicles couldn’t be simpler. Simply pull on the lower shoulder button to accelerate, the other one to brake, a bit of handbraking needed now and then, and use your boost once it has built up. In order to stop players from boosting non stop, you have to be careful not to let your engine overheat by boosting for too long. A newly implemented feature is the ability to cool down your engine by driving through strategically placed water, although this slows you down somewhat. Fortunately you don’t have to spend hours configuring your car. You can earn and subsequently choose various different meaty vehicles, but the dearth of complicated setup is welcome.

One gripe I would have though is that the scenery tends to be slightly too dark. Similarly, the default camera angle doesn’t really allow you to see enough of the forthcoming track. These gripes are soon abolished though when you go for cockpit view, which gives a real rip-roaring roller coaster ride of mind bending qualities. You finish the race feeling like you’ve been rally driving after being 10 rounds with Mike Tyson – great. You might want to turn the trash metal music off though; it gets really irritating. Skaters and Goths might like it, but it wasn’t for me, and I’m a pseudo Indie type.

After a good while racing and crashing I couldn’t help but think of similarities between this game and “destruction derby” (late 90’s classic) and also the “Burnout” genre. I was surprised to see that they were by completely different companies.

I imagine that this one is a 16+ because of the crashing sequences. I have a couple of youngsters and let my five year old have a go on the freeplay section. A bit naughty, I know, but I had vetted it first, I promise. The controls were too difficult for her, though, at this stage, but she enjoyed having a slow mosey around.

This is a great game and well worth the cash. The online portion needs to be more user friendly, but in terms of having a laugh with friends you really couldn’t ask for more. The various challenges and unlockables should keep you going for many hours and I would highly recommend this one.