Sony Pre-E3 2008: MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Impressions

What's with all the cars hitting each other today? First, there was the traffic-checking in Burnout Revenge. Then Midway's The Wheelman introduces so-called "car melee strikes". Now there's one more for that list, the upcoming MotorStorm: Pacific Rift from Sony and developer Evolution Studios,...

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What's with all the cars hitting each other today? First, there was the traffic-checking in Burnout Revenge. Then Midway's The Wheelman introduces so-called "car melee strikes". Now there's one more for that list, the upcoming MotorStorm: Pacific Rift from Sony and developer Evolution Studios, which I had a chance to spend some time with today. In Pacific Rift, you can attack other vehicles by pressing the square button. Depending on what you're driving, your attack will either be pretty devastating on your opponent (such as when blasting a motorcycle when driving a monster truck) or completely useless (such as in the reverse situation).

As an aside, even though attempting to punch a dune buggy while astride a dirt bike was utterly ineffectual, it nonetheless did not become any less funny to me during my hands-on time with the game.

The build on hand was advertised as roughly 40 percent complete and, though the game had the requisite frame rate problems you'd expect in early code, you can tell that Pacific Rift is going to be a better-looking game than its already impressive predecessor. The setting is a big factor here--gone is the arid dusty desert mountains, replaced instead by a visually rich tropical environment that looks scrumptious, full of muddy expanses and watery sections (the latter of which will help cool your engine when you overdo it with the turbo boost). The track design was full of alternate paths and other fun surprises--including a twisting tank turret hung on the edge of a jump that took me out more than once.

If only those lush areas and interesting tracks could be bigger; Pacific Rift is still going with the circuit racing theme, at least in the track shown in the game today. It seems to me that the wide open, balls-to-the-wall offroad approach that the MotorStorm series has established for itself in its driving model is pretty opposed to the rigid and predictable nature of circuit racing. When Evolution Studios merges its kamikaze driving model to a similarly reckless and unpredictable (read: point-to-point) track design philosophy, we'll have an offroad driving game that nobody will be able to stop.

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