MotorStorm Apocalypse - Excites and Frustrates in Equal Measure

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My first few hours with MotorStorm Apocalypse (MA) were pure bliss. Sure, Split/Second impressed our shorts off us with its cinematic moments, but MA’s spectacular set-pieces are a whole new ball game. As a racer voluntarily taking part in a post apocalyptic racing festival, MA will push your driver to the limits challenging him with both hyper aggressive opponents and the forces of nature herself.

The game’s biggest hook, without a doubt, is its Apocalyptic setting that not only looks cool but factors into gameplay as well. Since you are racing in a city ravaged by earthquakes, cyclones and tornadoes, the forces of nature can kick in anytime and change – quite literally – the rules of the game. Buildings will fall around you, opening up new routes or doubling up as gigantic ramps, while a nearby cyclone can fling vehicles around all around the track creating a new shortcut that never existed in the previous lap. You can’t comprehend the chaos that unfolds during races unless you play it yourself.

Not a very good sign

Not a very good sign

 

 

In addition to all sorts of natural disasters, you even have a very unruly bunch of civilians to deal with who’ll constantly litter the tracks, throw Molotov cocktails at you or even try and shoot you down. While you can run over most of them, you must make sure your car does not soak up too up damage as that could cause it to overheat. And like previous Motorstorm games, overheating your vehicle will cause it to explode. You can spawn back into the race with the press of a button but you’ll lose precious seconds and on the latter difficulties, this becomes a real pain in the back side.

Speaking of pains in the backside, special mention goes out to MA’s crushing difficulty that kicks in after a few hours of gameplay. The career is split up into three sections – Rookie, Pro and Veteran. Gamers who even have a bit of racing experience will cruise through Rookie but as soon as you enter Pro, the difficulty just ramps itself up significantly. Where you were once cruising to the finish line in first place, you’ll find it tough to even come in third. Races will be lost multiple times as even a single screw up could lead to defeat. Making matters worse is the super aggressive AI who are hell bent on annihilating your ride at all times.

Train wrecked

Train wrecked

 

 

This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if I could choose my weapon of choice but for some reason, the game takes it upon itself to choose my ride. I mean why hand me a dirt bike when I’m racing against trucks? That’s not fun. That’s not even fair for God’s sake. I get this is the game’s way of perhaps challenging me but when you consider the fact that in nearly every race I’m going up against hostile civilians, natural disasters and hyper aggressive AI, not allowing me to choose the ride of my choice just seems plain anal.

MA keeps up the frantic pace in its online mode where up to 16 players can bang it out for online supremacy. Like most competitive games on the block today, you compete in a bunch of races and winning them will allow you to pimp your ride and racer. You even have a bunch of preset perks to choose from which could make your car handle better, boost more or cool down faster. There’s also a betting system where you can earn some cash by betting on the best players. This allows noobs (cough) to rake in some dough even if they absolutely suck at the game. The insane destruction from the single player campaign makes its way into multiplayer maps as well but unless you’re first, or somewhere close to the first racer, you won’t be able to witness them.

You call that an explosion?

You call that an explosion?

 

 

Visually the game does not disappoint. Sure it may be populated by a few low resolution textures but they do pale in the grand scheme of things, especially when you witness a cyclone throwing up ship wrecks across the very same track you’re racing on. If you thought the set-pieces from Split/Second were mind blowing, Apocalypse will completely melt your face. The cut scenes depicting the rather cheesy story are highly annoying and thankfully can be skipped. I did encounter a few slowdowns but overall, the frame rates held up just fine even during some of the more chaotic races.

MotorStorm Apocalypse is one of the most exciting racers I’ve ever played. Sadly it’s burdened down by erratic difficulty, certain stupid gameplay mechanics and highly aggressive AI. This more often than not converts an otherwise intense and nerve wracking experience into something a lot more frustrating. If you can somehow look past that, then this is an apocalypse worth experiencing.


Published Date: Mar 17, 2011 03:54 pm | Updated Date: Mar 17, 2011 03:54 pm