A off-road racing game with breath-taking tracks and brutal competition that is really fun yet somewhat frustrating.

User Rating: 8 | MotorStorm: Pacific Rift PS3
Let me first state that I have never played a dirt-racing game before this one. That said, I do enjoy arcade racing games. Everything from Pod-racing to Burnout games to Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit.

Therefore, after playing some demos of various off-road racing games, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift seemed to be a good fit with my preference of racing games. A more arcade, insane, boosting, insane crashes, wonderful, breath-taking tracks with some pretty pimped out off-road vehicles. What could go wrong?

For the most part, I was right. There is a whole lot done right in this game. The tracks are gorgeous and interesting. The variety between the beautiful, lush forest, the run-down abandoned remains of civilization, the breath-taking sunset beaches are all wonderful to look at. The routes themselves are amazing, track memorization is sometimes difficult due to the numerous options on routes, short-cuts and your route of preference might need to change based on what vehicle you choose.

The boosting works well and you have to use it strategically due to the over-heating (much like Star Wars Episode I: Racer). Thankfully driving through a puddle or in rain helps cool it off faster than normal. The vehicles all handle differently and some are better suited for running people over and others are better suited for dodging through the forest.

However, for all these wonderful elements, there are a few drawbacks. For one, the courses don't really change. It doesn't take more than a few hours to see all the tracks this game has to offer. It simple throws the same track(s) at you in various modes, festival (race), time-race and elimination. I think sometimes the tracks are thrown at you backwards, which is a nice touch, but I'm not 100% sure on that. Another frustration is the vehicles: they handle ok. Aside from the really small vehicles, the other vehicles don't turn and feel like you're racing a tank on steroids with a rocket strapped to the top. Sure, the feeling of insane speed is there, but it can be a pain in the rear to try to do even the simplest turns, making you jam the control stick in what direction while slamming on the brakes hoping that God allows you to turn and not ram into said tree, rock or building corner.

Another discouraging thing is the limitation of vehicle choice. While there are a number of vehicles in the game, not all are available to race each race. Making it difficult to track which races you have used which vehicle to accomplish certain trophies, this limitation makes you feel restricted and forced into using vehicles you might not feel are up to the challenge. Which, is another thing, the vehicles are never going to get better than they are when you start. You earn new driver and vehicle "packs" when you win a new rank level, but that only allows you to change how you look and what the vehicles look like, not how they drive. It seems you never are allowed to modify the vehicles with any real consequences to how they handle or how fast they are. This is simply one more disappointing thing about MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. This means you are simply racing to get different looking vehicles and tracks with different objectives (elimination, etc). This makes the pay-off for beating that one course and getting the gold medal less enticing.

That being said, if you can learn and adjust to handling of the vehicles, the unforgiving courses, the limited choices and the lack of pay-off, there is A LOT to be enjoyed here. Who hasn't wanted to take a dirt bike or a monster truck for an intense truly off-road race? While the game has flaws, the idea of off-road racing is a simple pleasure and is executed well here which makes for some very exciting races.