MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review
Destructive environments and excellent track design make MotorStorm: Apocalypse one of the most exciting racing experiences on the PlayStation 3.
Fortunately, you don't have to place first to complete Festival mode. In rookie racing you only have to place fifth or above to unlock the next race, while pro and veteran require you to place third or above. If you do manage to place first, you unlock the Hardcore Festival in Wreakreation mode, which lets you replay the race against super-aggressive opponents. Should that be too much for you, there's also an easier Time Attack mode, with results from both appearing on global leaderboards, allowing you to compete for the best time with others online. Wreakreation also houses the standard Quick Race mode, letting you race a circuit with the vehicle of your choice. You can also select from three different racing types: standard races; eliminators, a particularly manic race where the last position is periodically removed; and chase, where you must maintain a certain distance between yourself and the race leader. Further options include AI difficulty, number of laps, and whether disaster incidents take place.
Quick races can also be played locally with up to three other players via split-screen. Being able to exchange jibes with your friends before sending them hurtling off a cliff with a well-placed boost is lots of fun, even if the frame rate and visual detail do take a bit of a hit. That fun also extends to the online multiplayer, where you can take your two-player split match online to compete in races--an absolute riot when you've got a full 16 players. The same three race modes are available, though they are augmented with a perks system that lets you choose from a selection of three power-ups to use in a race. These include Swift Return, which halves the time it takes to reset to the track after a crash; Critical, which lets you hold your boost for longer; and Cheap Shot, which lets you ram people using less of your boost. Each race awards you with chips, a form of experience points, which increase your driver level, unlocking new perks. You can also unlock new player icons, driver avatars, and parts for cars, which you can use to customise your favourite ride for online races. Customisations are purely visual, though, so no matter what you add, your car performs the same.
If you're the gambling type, you can also use some of your chips to bet on the winner of a race, which can potentially double the winnings that you receive. This makes the already thrilling multiplayer that little bit more exciting, with racers strategically ramming opponents who get in the way of their bet. If you'd rather not take your racing online, there's still plenty to do in the single-player modes. Each track has a number of cards to collect that detail the history of MotorStorm. They're tucked away in some extremely difficult-to-reach areas, requiring some nifty jumping and boost skills to hunt them all down. That does give you time to admire the visuals, though, which are incredibly beautiful, especially with all the destruction going on. The Boardwalk tracks' storm-filled skies showcase a gorgeous lighting system as lightning strikes over the rough waves of the ocean, while a tornado sends shards of the pier flying across the screen. Even more breathtaking are the skyscraper-filled backdrops of the Skyline tracks, which disintegrate into piles of rubble as an earthquake shakes the ground.
If you're fancy enough to own a 3D television, then you're in for even more of a treat. Though the resolution is noticeably decreased when the game is running in 3D, this lower fidelity is more than made up for by the thrill that the 3D creates. The aforementioned shards of pier now lunge straight at you, and mud flies past your face, while the crashing bridge of Buena Vista appears to fall around you, creating a real sense of danger as you attempt to drive past unscathed. This is one of the rare instances when 3D really enhances the experience, making each race even more of rush than it already is--a real showcase for the technology. Hooking up to a good 7.1 audio system makes the experience even better, as the low growls from the engines and huge bass-filled explosions make you feel like you're right there in the middle of the action.
Regardless of whether you experience the game in 3D or not, MotorStorm: Apocalypse is a fantastic-looking game that's tonnes of fun to play. But it's the jaw-dropping track design that will keep you coming back for more, creating some of the most sensational racing you can experience on the PlayStation 3. Its few failings do little to detract from this, and with its expanded content and great multiplayer options, there's a lot more to love this time around. Apocalypse is the MotorStorm concept taken to its ultimate conclusion: complete and utter destruction. And it's a blast.