MotorStorm Updated Hands-On

Sony shows off more of its sharp-looking PlayStation 3 racer.

Sony's SCEE-developed MotorStorm is set to hit the PlayStation 3 with a muddy, physics-heavy bang when it comes to the US early next year. The over-the-top racer has been catching attention since it first appeared at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo as a flashy trailer and has been prominently featured at a number of Sony events. Most recently the game has appeared in demo form in the PlayStation 3 online store. Though the demo offers a taste of what to expect from the upcoming game, Sony recently showed off an even more polished work-in-progress version at a press event that featured new tracks as well as a look at how the single-player game is going to work. We had the chance to hit the road with the game and talk to a member of the development team to find out more about this crazy racer.

Sure, it's mostly about the racing, but MotorStorm's crashes are something to behold.

The version on display at the event showed off the centerpiece of the single-player game: the MotorStorm Festival. The Burning Man-esque festival takes place in a desert setting and appears to be attended by throngs of action junkies looking for a fix. The game's front end contains video of the attendees walking about and is shot in a documentary-style complete with shaky camera. Besides serving as an eye-catching visual, the festival serves as the structure for you to progress through the game. You're essentially cast as an attendee and participate in the festival by entering events. The various events will become available to you as you collect the appropriate tickets. Each ticket will represent a specific event and, from what we saw, will offer anywhere from one to several races for you to engage in. The events appear to range from a typical race wherein everyone is using a similar off-road vehicle, to crazier scenarios wherein you'll be required to use an alternate vehicle, such as a dirt bike, while everyone else is rocking cars. Once you get the hang of such insanity, you'll find that some events don't tie you to a specific vehicle and will let you choose whatever you feel like driving. As you clear the events, more tickets will become available and will send you to different locales to get your race on.

We were limited to the first three tickets in the game, which let us check out several new tracks--with suitably edgy names like The Grizzly, Mud Pool, and Rockhopper--and their events. For the most part, the tracks featured variations on the themes we've seen in the game: high-speed racing on cliffs that rely on well-thought-out, or incredibly lucky, maneuvering and the use of your vehicle's boost. This time we were able to get a better appreciation for the different routes through the various tracks. The routes are highlighted on one of the load screens shown before races and offer you food for thought as you try to figure out just how you're going to use that flimsy motorcycle against a pack of big rigs and take first in a race. The Mud Pool area showed off the gooey challenge of tearing through mud at high speeds.

Control in the game is solid and varies in accordance with what you happen to be driving. The layout on the Sixaxis is intuitive and even offers the option to use the motion sensing functionality to steer your vehicle. The larger big rigs are a challenge to control due to their size and the high speeds you'll be traveling at, whereas the motorcycles are fast-moving rockets that are destined to send you flying off into open space initially until you get used to their quirks. The game's arcade-style sensibilities have kept the solid control and high-speed racing balanced between fun and realism. You'll have to respect the natural order of physics, but it doesn't wind up being so realistic that you can't have some fun.

You can use the Sixaxis motion controls to steer your ride in MotorStorm and it controls pretty well.

Sony reps on hand offered up some additional information on what to expect from the game beyond what was on display. First and foremost was the game's artificial intelligence, which, because the tracks we were racing on were taken from the start of the game, was about as nonconfrontational as could be. As you progress deeper in the game, the AI will apparently go from "Care Bear" to "completely hateful," resulting in opponents that will eventually start teaming up on you and actively trying to rub you out during a race. Reps also verified that the copious amounts of damage your car will undergo will not affect its handling, because the team wanted to focus on a fun racing experience that skewed arcade-y (as evidenced by the lack of an onscreen speedometer or map). However, the big question mark for us was MotorStorm's online content, which has been discussed here and there but never properly outlined. While reps weren't able to lay it all out for us yet since the online component is still being worked on, they did offer some solid tidbits. The game is currently being targeted to support a minimum of up to eight players with support for voice chat. The team also intends to offer online ranking you can track via leaderboards, as well as tournament support. Finally, as we've seen demoed before, the game will also support downloadable content in the form of tracks and vehicles, though specifics on what and how much aren't ready just yet.

The visuals in this version of game show off some additional polish, focusing mainly on performance and effects that give the experience a sharper look. The various vehicles looked great, thanks to a high level of detail and a cool, though painful, level of deformation, which is one of the game's selling points. Next to the overall madness of tearing along on cliff edges, seeing your car come apart in various chunks as you slam into objects and opponents is primal pleasure. The new mud track also appeared to be delivering on the promise of the early demos of the game that showed off the messy, gooey physics you'd expect when tearing through a muddy course. As far as speed goes, MotorStorm cruises along at a fairly stable and smooth frame rate. Though the game doesn't have the blistering speed of a 60-frame-per-second racer, the inclusion of various motion blur and particle effects conveys a suitably white-knuckle sense of motion in both the first- and third-person cameras offered. The only rough edge we noticed was some inconsistent texture work, which varied radically from the gorgeous, near-photo-realistic locations and vehicles, to much simpler textures that looked smeared. To be fair, many of the less-attractive textures were in out-of-the-way places we happened upon after careening out of control. Sony was showing the game off in 720p on some epic Bravia televisions via an HDMI cable, which gave the visuals some extra kick.

The audio suits the action perfectly and doesn't differ too much from what we've heard before. The engine noise and collisions are still satisfying and painful, depending on how the race is going. The racing music predictably leans toward loud rock tunes from Slipknot and the like, which is fine, since MotorStorm doesn't exactly lend itself to a catchy pop soundtrack.

Down and dirty racing will be arriving on your PS3 in March 2007.

Based on what we played, MotorStorm is shaping up to be a tasty PS3 game. It features a solid gameplay foundation that's satisfying, albeit straightforward. The visuals and audio complement the action well and do a good job of holding your attention. The promise of online play and downloadable content (provided we don't get charged an arm and a leg for it) should definitely help the game find an audience. MotorStorm is currently slated to ship in March 2007. Look for more on the game in the coming months, including import impressions of the Japanese version, which is slated for this month.

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369 comments
Billipop
Billipop

I was fortunate enough to play a demo of this game for free at a Target store a few months ago and the gameplay is awesome.

TVR_Fan
TVR_Fan

I don't agree Brizen, this game rewrites most things for crashes against other cars, and also Burnout cannot include the out of great madness for the online play through a canon like Motorstorm.

Brizen__Beez
Brizen__Beez

This game cannot be compared with greatness next to Burnout. Nothing special about it...Sony is making a big deal about nothing (much like their "amazing new system that would be eons ahead of Xbox 360"). Show us the damn results all ready.

MadCow619
MadCow619

Cool! It's like The Paris-Dakar Rally. In the desert, we race with Buggies, Trucks, Bikes, ATVs, just like The Dakar.. The best part is: Auto Violence. I'm gonna get this game when i get a PS3!

chamber303
chamber303

Very attractive and well built game. Along with the advanced abilities of the PS3, this will definitely be an amaaaaaaaaazing game. I will include it in my library.

Col_Swamp
Col_Swamp

i downloaded the demo at the ps store and at first was amazed by the visuals. the game physics we cool, but i gotta say I hope they change some stuff before it's realease. my main complaint is that while you are racing and u get into a crash, you get to see your "super dupper cool" crash in slow motion, while the rest of the race is still moving in regular time! so in no time you drop from 1st to 10th just because you hit a pole...friggin lame. if they fix some stuff i might considere renting this one.

walkerctranger
walkerctranger

i think this game looks cool, but driving through bland deserts, with not much to look at, can only be fun for so long.

supertank310
supertank310

Aww, I can't wait!! Motorstorm is the main reason i'm getting a PS3! I love carnage racing games, after a bit of a let down by auto-assault 2, this game is my top ranked racing game, other than Gran Turismo HD.

General_Lee45
General_Lee45

This is the one of the reasons I will be getting a PS3 and now that the prices have gone way down on ebay and they are back to retail cause I see a lot of them for retail price now and I may get one off of ebay! This is good enough reason for me to get the PS3 and the GTA that'll be coming out on it! YEEHAW!

JiveT
JiveT

Games like this have an extremely limited appeal. The tracks look pretty good. The vehicles look decent. But lets face it its a dirt track driving game. Sony seems to have a lot invested in this one. Why? I guess the mud is a big selling point. I don't see much mud in my 360 games. Why? I guess it can't handle real mud. How much are gamers willing to pay for real mud in a dirt track racing game? Only time will tell.

datniccah187
datniccah187

The demo is awesome. I'm really dig'n motostorm. Should be a fun game.

Mrpowers35
Mrpowers35

I love the demo! Too bad there isn't that many truck choices though!

lextexrex
lextexrex

as of now got a ps3, 2 controls, a good tv, but NO GAMES (except for my fun collection of ps2 games). I hope I can make this part of my early collection

SimmySamSam
SimmySamSam

The demo is awesome! amazing grafics and cool level. to bad the sixaxis control is really touchy....

gamerkid99
gamerkid99

gameplay is good and the use of the Sixaxis controller is good to, this is one of the reasons to get a PS3

Nate2583
Nate2583

Yeah those are some really nice visuals....

Flamesack112
Flamesack112

The game is good and it has good graphics. Although when i played it the SIX AXIS was wierd. Maybe it's just me. I wish i could get the demo to down load off the internet because every time i do it it gives me an error message.

jeff2374
jeff2374

The demo is awesome. Cool shortcuts and you can punch people in the back of the head. Any word on a multiplayer demo?

Spartan8907
Spartan8907

@alucard62889: Nicely said. There needs to be more people in the world that see things the way you do. I am generally not biased against any system. Both the 360 and PS3 have and will continue to have great games. The topic of this discussion is supposed to be about Motorstorm, so I'll say this. @lloydsta: I have taken advantage of every chance I recieve to go down to Target or Best Buy just to play the demo of Motorstorm. Being a true racing fanatic, ( I've bought a few Nascar titles and I own almost every Need for Speed title that exists) this is the racing game that I have dreamt about. Mortorstorm has everything that I believe should be in a racing game. I doubt that I will every grow tired of it.

Alucard62889
Alucard62889

god, what is wrong with you people!? Why do you guys have to make every article discussing a 360 or PS3 game seem like some demented, perverted battle between the two systems? Both systems will have games that will be impressive, both systems will have games that are not impressive. Who cares? What matters is that both the 360 and the PS3 will end up becoming successful in their own ways. SO SHUT UP YOU STUPID FANBOYS, BOTH SYSTEMS ARE GREAT! GET OVER IT! Leave the dumb "360 rules" or "Ps3 rules" arguments out of the comment for an article that has nothing to do with what system is the best. Thank you.

cell1138
cell1138

dtffann003 stop trolling on this you mron i hate people like you and if you are true about your supposed 100% positive that those games are coming out to the 360 then prove it. If you don't you can cry your self to sleep cuz all those games are sony exclusives ARE YOU UNDER A ROCK?!

Eclipse83Lives
Eclipse83Lives

Yea games cool. But I was thinking the same thing. I have already played it a tun as far as basic demo mode. At least F1 is sorta staying hidden. Sony usually keeps most of their good stuff hidden. But this their throwing out their. I just sorta sit back and wait for the next two years to play out. Than Laugh at the competition lol. Although I like a lot of the Wii games coming also. But you know right now, Microsoft is gonna try and get in every shot in they can. While they have that one year look good thing going. For the whole few months it lasts :P Oh are 1 year game looks as good as your first week game, Look it does everyone "their screaming" I just laugh at it and wait.

lloydsta
lloydsta

I just hope they haven't played too much of this game already that will make them less excited about the final version of the game resulting in a lower score.

sitruk3012
sitruk3012

Where are these pics for DMC 360 that you speak of? Id really love to see it on 360 but id like proof over someones words.

dtfann003
dtfann003

Edgeraven, I'm a dam game dev. I know, I am 100% on this. FF13 is coming to 360. So is MGS. You kids are know it all's. Did you see the pic of DMC for the 360?? About 97% for the games coming out for the ps3 is coming to 360. Are you under a rock???

el_malon_123
el_malon_123

its looks amazing ps3 rulez!!! men the best console!! and better games than the 360!! woo!!!! lol

Edgeraven
Edgeraven

dtfann003: marc123321, ff13 is going on the 360. It will be on the ps3 and 360. Edgeraven: LMAO!!! FFXIII is not going on 360. The only reason why you think that is because FFXI went on 360, the only reason why Square enix did that is because FFXI is the only MMORPG that is crossed platformed. Square Enix has no other plans to put anything on the 360.

dtfann003
dtfann003

marc123321, ff13 is going on the 360. It will be on the ps3 and 360

marc123321
marc123321

When I saw the first videos of Motorstorm I couldn't believe that this might be possible. Well, it turned out that it isn't yet, but nevertheless this game looks really good and will most probably be a lot of fun. I hope that this or something similar wil find its way on the 360, cause I don't have the money to buy another system. Too bad, that this console-war is having impact on games in terms of exclusivity. I really would like to play like Motorstorm or FFXIII and I think a lot of PS3er would want to play like GoW. But this won't happen I guess =((.

dtfann003
dtfann003

TIME Magazine has deemed the PlayStation 3 as one of 2006’s five phenomena that didn’t live up to the hype. The article from the December 25 issue of time begins, “Beware all hype. Here are five phenomena that captivated the media for a spell, then turned out to be less than huge.” It continued to list Samuel L. Jackson’s cheesy Snakes on a Plane film, the canned Fox TV interview with O.J. Simpson about his sick fictional recounting of the murder of his wife and her friend in his book, “If I did it,” the TV show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and downhill skier bad boy Bode Miller. And then there’s the entry for the PS3: “The big story in computer games this year was HOW TO BLOW A HUGE LEAD, by Sony [emphasis TIME’s]. Its PlayStation 2 was the champ in the last round of the console wars. This time Sony bet on a chip called the Cell and a disc format called Blu-ray. They're probably awesome, but how would anybody know? The PS3 is hideously expensive--it goes for up to $600--and Sony manufactured only a piddling few hundred thousand for the U.S., fewer for Japan. Plus it's hard to write games for; the launch titles were lame. You know you're in trouble when you get beat by something called a Wii.”

thestrateger
thestrateger

it has a great graphics and very good sounds.

ldksparda21
ldksparda21

The games sounds great and it looks great, everytime that i go to a gamestop to buy a game, i play the demo for atleast 15mins before i leave.

Rai
Rai

game looks awesome!

RiceCake
RiceCake

lol, sorry bud didn't really think about how offensive that could sound. I'm in the middle of finals at university right now and my mind is shot. So I come here once in a while to be lax :S What I meant by that is you and dtfann are always saying that your developers and that your developers and dtfann is a developer and.... well, u get the picture. I'm not sure how it helps anything if we all thought you were developers. Your opinions are so close its like... your the same person :o but wouldn't go that far ;) anyways, I really gotta stop coming back to this forum... And yes Vertigo, this game has online confirmed for the north american release. Great game for like the 300th time :D

Vertigo283
Vertigo283

I bought the Japanese version of this game. It's fun, but no online means its seriously lacking. Wheres the fun in racing if you can't ram other people off the track and blow dust in their face? Great visuals, good (and sometimes frustrating) AI, Motorstorm is a fun racer and I would recommend buying it. Maybe they'll add online in the U.S. release?

Inner-Voice
Inner-Voice

I'm going to eat RiceCake. I'm 13??? wow 1978 was the year I was born thank you. The 360 has a long road ahead, as well was the PS3, and wii. when ut07 comes out for PS3, 360, and PC You will never see any big diff with any of them. It will look and play the same on all systems (360, and PS3) Dtfann and I have all next gen systems, well we dont have Panasonic's new system. We were told the Panasonic has 768 of video ram. A 4 core IBM CPU. Ok lets get back to PS3 and 360. Both systems are fun to play In 07 we will not see a big diff in the way games will look on PS3. They will look as good as 360. If you put a 360 up to show off, but told people it was a ps3, they would run to it. The games will look just as good on both systems.

RiceCake
RiceCake

dtfann003, and now unfortunately inner-voice both sound like you're13 year olds that just got out of some "games for geeks" book. Your opinion carries little to no weight in this topic. Its about motorstorm, not hardware... But to set things in perspective: The x-box 360 has had a year on the market, and the PS3 only 1 month (not even). So to make some crazy predictions about how long each consols gonna last, (dtfann said something about 360's long life) is ridiculous and inaccurate. PC's life span can be judged by systems specs alot better than consols. I personally THINK the PS3 will outlast xbox because xbox was rushed onto the market and has no "future planning" in the hardware. Both great systems and almost completely equal for now. The only diff is game support, which is the area that Sony has dominated for the past 10 years, but have lost exclusive support on two big franchises. The real competition will begin when one of the systems starts to run out ot tricks. So until then, just enjoy your system and look forward to the great games coming out! Like this one: Motorstorm is gonna be amazing!

hovan316
hovan316

Exclusive titles will sell systems...

Inner-Voice
Inner-Voice

What ever dtfann told you is true. We work together. We work day in and day out with all game systems. He never did say that the 360 was god, and PS3 was crap. Any one with a brain can tell you what system is killer and what sucks.

dtfann003
dtfann003

RahKayne, I'm a game developer. I know how the system works. We work with them all the time. All I did was back up the guy below me. He has a game spot name by the way. (Systemafunk)

Kiyomiz
Kiyomiz

I got this game 3 days ago in Tokyo. This is cool and awesome!!!! Just play it!!! You can really feel good!

RahKayne
RahKayne

wow, I thought I've seen all the fanboys, already they keep on coming If you don't like this game or system, why are you even in PS3 news? (that's a rhetorical question) and to the guy right below me, you have no idea wtf you are talking about. It's looks like you looked at the specs and you know how everything works, but you got a lot wrong man, I hope no one believes that. wow IIt's 430 in the morning and I don't have time to even respond to that post, I'm so shocked man, bravo. (you do say some correct things though) (the guy below you is ok)

dtfann003
dtfann003

Thats true Systemafunk, but what people dont understaind is this. The PS3 is not what we call high tech. Or the 360. Both CPU's are just as powerful as a intel 2 CPU. The Ps3 has a 1 core cell CPU, and the 360 has a 3 core CPU. Both made by IMB. Yes the are running at 3+ghz, but they never realy run at 3+ghz. The CPU's are setup to only run what they need at that time. This is a fact. Most games running on both the PS3 and 360 will only run the CPU at 1.5 ghz. The 360 was setup so that everything runs well with everything. The 360 efficiency level is far more than the PS3. The PS3 has parts in it that run faster, and others that run slower. Like the Video card is slow. Why? It has 256 of ram on the spot. The CPU has 256 of ram. So when the ps3 needs more video ram, the CPU is now working a load. It runs the games, and gives ram when called for. So when you get down to it. The 360 can run efficiency, and clean. Making the life of a 360 a long life.

Systemafunk
Systemafunk

Ive been a computer programmer for years and it is absolutely pointless to talk about percentages of power used by a console, graphics card, PC, whatever. What matters is the efficiency. Can a developer structure the game better to make better use of the memory, perhaps setting up temporary loading while you are doing other things, etc? That is what brings out the full capability. You cant define it in terms of percentages. And if games for the XBOX 360 and PS3 start getting good at using the processor(s), graphics card and memory more efficiently, I guarantee they will wear out the systems faster. Vamped up memory chips and the bloated gigahertz processors are notorious for needing rest time. Efficient game code means more constant use of all the systems resources.

Inner-Voice
Inner-Voice

crazyguy92, you dont know jack. I'm a game developer, and dtfann03 is a developer. We have only seen 20-23% of what the 360 can do. Fall of man ran the PS3 at 15%. The 360 has tons of power. Even if we see game that can run the 360 at 50%, there still is alot of power left. Same with the PS3. Now if you realy want to push both, a game that can run the 360, and PS3 at 97%-99% is now just pushing them. Even then, there is still more power left. The 360's video card will walk all over the PS3's video card. Read page 8. http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/617/617951p1.html

crazyguy92
crazyguy92

whooah....developers of 360 are using a lot more than 20% of the power.....developers are using 20 percent of PS3's power, but for 360, they're using about 50......post a link if i'm wrong.....