MotorStorm: Apocalypse Preview (PS3)

In general, racing games don't do storylines. The focus is usually on speed, precision, environment and/or wacky powerups, and less on trying to conjure up a reason for it all. MotorStorm: Apocalypse, the fourth in the Motorstorm series, doesn't care what came before - this is a story-driven, apocalyptic racer with real-time track alterations throwing a spanner into the works constantly.

It's also shaping up to be a must-have racer for the Playstation 3, and easily the best of the series so far. One of the more extravagant tracks was on show at the Playstation Beta Rooms event, so we sat down to experience the need for speed at the end of the world.

This can't end well

The game is set in California's Bay Area, at a time when a devastating earthquake has leveled the entire area. Buildings are crumbling, roads have given way and highways are in pieces. The perfect grounds for a race, then! Yet it's not simply enough that the landscape is utterly demolished - Evolution Studios have set the game while aftershocks and tremors are still tearing the remaining surroundings down, hence not only will you be racing for first place, but you'll also be making sure a ruddy great skyscraper doesn't land on top of you.

The most remarkable point to note regarding the demo track we played is that there was always something going on at every straight and corner. The race started on a seemingly regular stretch of road, allowing the player to boost forward and attempt to grab the top spot as early as possible. Suddenly a huge tanker came bursting through the left-hand wall, hurtling across the track and obliterating any drivers who happened to be in the way. It then proceeded to sway to and fro before completely losing control and exploding in a huge ball of fire.

You'd think that would be an explosive enough start to a race, but there's more to come. A few seconds later, as you power towards a set of skyscrapers, one of them begins to topple. Your boost comes in very handy here, and you launch yourself underneath and through quickly before you become part of the ground. It's breath-taking stuff, but we're only just getting started.

50 bucks says that car won't make it

At this point, we begin to witness more of the story-based elements. There are two factions battling for control of the city - a local law enforcement group, and a band of rebellious looters - and they help make each course even more mental. As we approach an underground car park, a burning truck goes flying through the air directly in front of us, and the game goes slow-mo to ramp up the tension. These factions are ruthless, and at certain points will even see you as a threat and attack your car.

The rest of the track is very much more of the blisteringly brilliant same. Roads collapse to reveal huge sewerage pipes underneath which create great make-shift driveways, while even more skyscrapers decide to make short work of the freeway you're currently driving along. As you'd expect, debris is constantly falling from the sky throughout play to add that extra bit of personality.

This could all be hit and miss depending on whether the sense of speed and feel of the controls are up to much, so we're happy to report that in both departments MotorStorm: Apocalypse packs a hell of a punch. Taking experience from past Motorstorm games, Evolution Studios has tweaked to within an inch of perfection, and it handles wonderfully. The game sits somewhere between arcade and realism - you can power along with little worry of slowing down at corners, yet clip the edge of an obstacle and you'll go spinning out of control.

It can be a little frustrating when you've had such a perfect run and then lose it all at the very last corner, when you accidently touch the tip of a railing or grind against a building and you entire car spins all over the place. Pressing select will put you back on the track, but you'll lose precious time in doing so.

This is the kind of situation the brake was invented for

The worst moments, however, are when you crash and it wasn't your fault at all. The other cars on the track have a tendency to pile up in tight spaces, and if you happen to be right behind when this happens, all you can do is pile on top of them. In this sense, achieving fast times on each track is going to be part skill, part luck. Getting that lucky race when the AI behaves and doesn't hinder your progress too much will be the key, and you can imagine those people looking to top the online scoreboards will be hitting the 'restart race' option many times over.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse is hoping to take the arcade racing crown on Playstation 3, and with a full single player campaign, 4-player local split screen and 16-player online multiplayer, it's very much on course. Hopefully we'll get some more time with it between now and release so we can cement this theory. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is due to release sometime in early 2011.

Most Anticipated Feature: Watching your friends get crushed by a falling building in four player split-screen


By RaviL (SI Core Member) on Aug 06, 2010
This reminds me of Carmageddon without the world destruction.
It would be nice to have power ups to destroy a wall and make it cave under an opponent.
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 06, 2010
Believe it or not, I played the first MotorStorm game only because it was bundled with my PS3 :) The game is good, but why is there no co-op? I'm not sure about the second or the third one having co-op but the 1st one didn't :)
By BoneArc (SI Elite) on Aug 07, 2010

you can do that in Split/Second

@Wowerine , There was COOP in the 3rd one . I played the DEMO.

but man does this look awesome , i will try the demo of this one for sure , and maybe i will buy it for my PS3
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 07, 2010
This is the third one I guess. You just said you played the demo, and then that you will try it. You make no sense at all dude o.O
By RaveofRavendale (SI Newbie) on Aug 07, 2010
Actually Wowerine, this is the fourth one. The first was on PS2, and the other three have been PS3 games. Hence, BoneArc was correct in what he said.

By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 08, 2010
I'm not counting the on PS2 Motorstorm Arctic something... Just the PS3 titles :)
By JPerry06 (SI Core) on Aug 08, 2010
It just looks like choas man! Should be a fun game but i afree with Raviel, power ups would make it wicked. A 21st cen mario cart with online play would be fun.
By Arrecoolast (SI Core) on Aug 13, 2010
I see motorcycles in the pics, give us motorcycles with good feel and handling and I will definitely buy it!! Sounds like fun with all the mayhem! :D
By Wowerine (SI Elite) on Aug 10, 2010
They must have upgraded the driving model since the first game for PS3 (the one I played). Bikes were almost the best vehicles out there, I guess they are as much fun as they used to be ;)