Motorstorm: Apocalypse Hands-On

We got to see a brand-new section of Evolution Studios' destructive racer behind closed doors at Gamescom 2010.

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With Motorstorm: Apocalypse having been unveiled just ahead of E3 2010, UK developer Evolution Studios has had a couple of months to keep polishing its impressive debut. It didn't disappoint at this year's Gamescom, with a demo that featured a new track taking place entirely aboveground. Matt Southern of developer Evolution Studios was on hand to guide us through the new location, as well as the other features we can expect from the PlayStation 3 racer.

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The Gamescom demo took place in an area outside the city centre, in a more suburban location reminiscent of suburban San Francisco. Southern was keen to stress that just like in previous Motorstorm games, different vehicles will favour different terrains, with muddy off-road sections being created by the dynamic natural disasters that happen through each race. As a studio with a heritage in rally games, the off-road sections didn't disappoint, and of the two cars available in the demo, this terrain favoured the racing truck rather than the sports car.

The game's campaign mode will feature a story, with comic-book-like animations charting the progress of the three main characters. These cutscenes will be shown during the loading screens, so they should fit seamlessly into the overall experience. Southern talked about a lighthearted beginning to the story, but it becomes rather more dark towards the end, as the protagonists discover what has been happening in the city. We're not sure how the story will pan out, but we do know that the crazies and the military will be battling it out as you race, until the armed forces start to become more aware of your activity and decide to turn nasty.

One of the new features revealed in our Gamescom session was the airborne cooldown. Much like in previous games in the series, you can use boost to go faster, with the option of letting the engine cool down naturally or accelerating the process by driving through water. In Apocalypse, you can also cool down in midair by flying off ramps, but only if you remember to let go of the accelerator while you're hurtling through the air. Improvements have also been made to the side swipes that were introduced in Motorstorm: Pacific Rift--they're now much more energetic and can be used to take out opponents or dodge obstacles at the last minute.

Southern told us that the game is coming together well at this stage and that thanks to optimisation, Apocalypse should continue to get better as it runs up to release. The Evolution Studios optimisation team has helped incorporate new features, such as night racing, dynamic lighting, and new tyre physics. The developer has also managed to build a brand-new game editor, which will allow you to build your own race rules and tinker with things like environment destruction levels when playing against friends.

Motorstorm: Apocalypse is currently scheduled for a Q2 2011 release date exclusively on the PlayStation 3. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more on the game when we have it.

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