MotorStorm Apocalypse Hands-on

Evolution Studios' series goes urban in MotorStorm Apocalypse, and we got a first hands-on ahead of E3 2010.

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In the five years since MotorStorm's memorable unveiling at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the series has gone on to become Sony's flagship arcade racing series on both the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. So it was perhaps no surprise that MotorStorm Apocalypse, the third game on the PS3, was announced just in time for this year's E3. The game will be a massive detour for the series, as it takes place in an urban environment--one that has been ravaged by a cataclysmic earthquake. We met with developer Evolution Studios in London to find out more, as well as to tackle the new scorched-earth environment for ourselves.

Game director Matt Southern started his demonstration by mentioning how excited he was to be talking about the game after two years of working in private. Our ears pricked up at this point, as it has only been just over 18 months since Pacific Rift was released on the PlayStation 3. "Yeah, we were working on Apocalypse before Pacific Rift finished," explained lead designer Paul Rustchynsky when we spoke to him about it later. Given the overlap and the fact that Apocalypse isn't scheduled for release until 2011 at the earliest, its development cycle could eventually end up totaling three years.

The biggest news, though, is that MotorStorm Apocalypse will be set in an urban environment, which is a massive change from the remote locations of previous games. While the location isn't named, it's an abandoned city on the West Coast of the US--a mix of LA-style skyscrapers and San Francisco's subway system. The location is a complete mess, though, thanks to a catastrophic earthquake that continues to ravage the once bustling metropolis. This, of course, is something that makes the city even more attractive for the thrill-seeking MotorStorm racers. They rock up as they always do in their mammoth boats and declare it the new home for the next MotorStorm festival.

I fear the flowers in your hair may well not stay there all that long at that speed.

It's at this point that you're introduced to three different racers, each of whom will experience a different 48 hours in the city. The rookie is new to the MotorStorm scene, having stowed away on the ship, and will provide newcomers a gentle introduction to the game. Next up is the survivor, who forms the middle difficulty level and will be an appropriate start for those who are used to the series. Finally, there's the veteran, called Big Dog, who will offer the biggest challenge of any MotorStorm yet, according to Evolution Studios. All three characters will have their own prologue and epilogue, where they arrive on the island and attempt to escape it, while each storyline will overlap with the others as you progress.

When the MotorStorm crew arrives in the city, though, they find that they're not the only ones inhabiting the wreckage. Private military contractors and "the crazies"--city dwellers who refuse to leave--are bitterly fighting it out. You're caught in the middle of it all, with the military using high-tech weaponry to attack you from both the ground and the air, while the crazies are rather more low-tech, using wrecking balls and Molotov cocktails to try to displace you. They will also fight each other, and your vehicle will be peppered with gunfire if you're caught in the middle.

Finally, there's the game's ultimate enemy: the earthquake itself, which will tear down buildings, buckle bridges, and open up new areas as you're racing. While we didn't see all of the following during our play session, Evolution Studios says that you'll race on rooftops, through subways and sewers, and even down skyscrapers as they collapse around you. The world will also be persistent, so any damage that's inflicted in one race will remain in place for subsequent events. This means that the city slowly gets wiped out throughout the two-day event, until you're eventually forced to evacuate as it falls around you.

As you'd expect, the game engine is based on the same base technology as Pacific Rift, but with some notable improvements to handle the destructible environment. Night racing and dynamic headlight effects are also included for the first time in the series. There will be much more vehicle customisation than before too, with vinyls, stickers, and paint jobs that can be bought from funds that you earn as you play. You can also buy performance upgrades for boost, handling, and combat, as well as body parts, shells, and completely new vehicles.

Because every racing game needs a…. Chinook?

On the online side, "multiplayer is as complete as we could make it," claims Matt Southern. There will still be 16-player online races, but this time four split-screen players will be able to join an online race together. There will also be a multiplayer game mode creator, which will allow you to tweak every aspect of game rules and conditions. A new wager system will also allow you to bet on the results of races to win even more money. These bets will be accumulator-style wagers, so you can win more money the more predictions in a row that you get right.

The demo we played was of the same pre-alpha code which will be available at E3, although the LA showing may end up having slightly more in it, according to Paul Rustchynsky. We were able to play with one vehicle--a grippy sports car, with which we navigated a relatively short downtown course. Within the first minute, an oil tanker had careered out onto the track, buildings had toppled and crashed into each other ahead of us, and a truck had exploded over our head as crazies fled from the scene. You can focus on the dramatics by pressing the triangle button, while the ability to run over pedestrians made us think of the classic PC racer Carmageddon. The boost button works in exactly the same way as in previous MotorStorm games, but on this particular track there wasn't much water to cool you down. Our favourite touch was the helicopter that held the starting gate at the beginning of the race and then flew over the action to perform the same task at the finish line.

MotorStorm Apocalypse will be playable at this year's E3 and will be released on the PlayStation 3 in 2011. Check out GameSpot's complete coverage of E3 starting June 13.

Discussion

92 comments
Hidden_Ace
Hidden_Ace

Seems to me like some of you are complaining that MotorStorm wont be it's off-road self anymore. Anybody who thinks that is stupid. MotorStorm will still be MotorStorm, have you seen the trailer???? It's crazy man lol It won't be Gran Turismo or Need For Speed (even though those games are good too). MotorStorm will be cool, I can't wait.

blueguykisame
blueguykisame

@UFO Well, they already did it in canyon/ very dry environments, tropical forests, and freezing environments. Now they're jusst trying something different...

UFO2012
UFO2012

No more wilderness, jungles, forests, mountains...but urban environment...blehhhh

Spectrality1
Spectrality1

Motorstorm: Apocalypse, NFS: Hot Pursuit, Twisted Metal, Kinect Forza, and last but not least, Gran Turismo 5. A revolution for racing games on all platforms, but a big slice out of my wallet. A necessary evil, I suppose.

ZombiePhoenix72
ZombiePhoenix72

I am seriously gonna get this.So far I have all the motorstorm games including arctic edge. Although arctic edge is extremely more frustrating than the other games it just had a great feel to iwith your opponents constantly screwing up turns or exploding around you. I hope they put this into this game too but I don't think I really have to say this anway because it probably will have it. =)

T_REX305
T_REX305

im totally gonna get this. since ms2 is only $19 ima get that for practice

drummer131
drummer131

Downthumb me all you want, but I loved Pacific Rift and I have zero interest in this one. MSPR drew me in because of the whole premise of "secluded Pacific island loaded with secluded, partially manmade tracks out in nature". The city setting has been done over and over in racing games and even with the changes and features that MotorStorm promises to bring, I've never been interested in cityscape racing games and I'm not about to start now.

daveg1
daveg1

the 2nd game was a big let down graphically gameplay everything so i hope they've pulled their socks up for the 3rd game..

ubProGamer
ubProGamer

Looks awesome! I'll be getting a copy in 2011 no doubt.

itchyflop
itchyflop

hmmm i hope its better than the last though its not a bad series of games so far !!

Gargaglio5tatus
Gargaglio5tatus

Apocalypse? Can you use the super-mega-jesus-flying-carpet-ship-of-biblical-death?! If not, then they wasted the use of the word "apocalypse" in their title.

gamefreak996
gamefreak996

Its kinda like a merge between splitsecond and motorstorm awsome.

KillerWabbit23
KillerWabbit23

AH. MAH. GAWD. so, it's Split/Second meets Motorstorm? I'm in.

lamprey263
lamprey263

I'm actually interested in how the faction dynamic is going to play out, look forward to knowing more about that.

Jackc8
Jackc8

I'm not especially thrilled about the urban setting and earthquakes and people shooting and all that junk, but the previous Motorstorm games have been insanely fun, so I'll probably pick this one up as well. I have confidence they'll give us a great experience.

addonfour
addonfour

I think Motorstorm are making a good move here with this, they are doing something different. I hope they do a good job with this and i cant wait for this =P

JamesSoprano
JamesSoprano

that's a shame .. i don't like the new direction this game is heading. i hope you other gamers enjoy it cause Motorstorm was the one offroad game i could sit and play and really enjoy.... but since your in a city where earthquakes happen and you can use weapons ... WHAT IS THIS TWISTED METAL !!!????? i'm sorry but now the game is trying to be something else.

metalkid9
metalkid9

Does anyone else think the concept looks like splitsecond? But I'm sure it will be way better though that's for sure. Can't wait for some gameplay vids!

cuchikapoor
cuchikapoor

What I all need is a little less sensitive physics

askforgreg
askforgreg

this is what split/second could have been

khai411
khai411

Does your game still have that dumb elastic AI? That's deal breaker there.

marceleleco
marceleleco

It's good to hear the old formula will be changed.Enough NFS for me.

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

The first two rocked, though they were a bit difficult at the end of the single player. (or maybe I just suck at driving games...) At least this time we get to choose the difficulty, and we get to customize our vehicles! So yeah, I'm gonna buy this! :)

Lunastra78
Lunastra78

Vehicle customization sounds nice, but I hope it won't increase loading time!

H0rr0rG4m3r
H0rr0rG4m3r

it looks alright, but to me it might feel a bit too muuc like a normal racer, since its now in streets and not in the desert or jungle, which I understand why they didnt go back to so it feels new. but I dont know, I'll see :)

metalkid9
metalkid9

@kyaz87, you're proud? you're proud that you went to the store and bought a PS3? Anyone can do that. There is nothing to be proud of my friend.

kyaz87
kyaz87

this makes me proud for owning a playstation 3 console... p/s : stop wishing it will be on the pc...just get a console :)

christ4ever9889
christ4ever9889

Does anyone even want a story in Motorstorm? Maybe the first two had them (I only played the demoes) but a story wasn't something I thought was necessary. Also does anyone want "perks" The thing I liked about the game was that it came down to skill, not who has the best vehicle. Either way this game will still be great, just the things I thought Motorstorm didn't need is now being included.

dellbuffalo
dellbuffalo

i dont wanna lie i think it gonna be better than motortstorm 1

Sablicious
Sablicious

Essentially this franchise is the only reason I have a Ps3... that, and because console was free! But this looks amazing - customizations inc. performance related, earthquakes, day/night racing, 4-player split-screen ON-LINE (!) = WIN!!

jake-lutze
jake-lutze

I think arcade racing games are making a comeback in a huge way.

12151
12151

First Blur Now Motorstorm Apocalpse , Cool . . .

dyziux
dyziux

Make PC please :) ,there is so less games for pc coming out, especially good ones racing..

steve4123456789
steve4123456789

Games seem to have a theme of end world, perhaps a subliminal hint of the coming who knows :)

sambob530
sambob530

Wow, looks like Split/Second but better. I like racing games, and play them quite a bit, but Pacific Roift was a little bit too difficult. If the final game looks like this (and it might) it would be the best looking PS3 game with GT5 and KZ2. Split screen online is amazing, I want to see more games with this in the future.

WilliamFajardo
WilliamFajardo

This game should bring Motorstorm back on the offroad destruction racing chart! I didn't bother with the last game because the demo was dissapointing and it got mediocre reviews. Hopefully they get it right this time!

fps_d0minat0r
fps_d0minat0r

i just hope the destruction is not repetitive......and the trophies are a bit easier =P

drakeship
drakeship

i think it`s going to be good