PS3, SCEA (2007)
Coming around the dirt track’s final corner, I pour on the boost, blowing by trucks at blinding speed. As I pass the pack and blaze toward the finish line I look back at them. As I turn around I only catch a split second glance at the boulder I’m about to smash into. My car flips end over end in slow motion as fenders fly in one direction and tires bounce in another. Upside down I see racers passing me by, none of them foolish enough to look back at me. Going from first place to fifteenth never happened so quickly.
SCEA’s demo for their upcoming mudslinging title MotorStorm may be my favorite game to date for the PlayStation 3. The demo, available as a free download through Sony’s online store, is just under 700 megs and may take gamers an hour or more to download and install. The wait is worth it.
The MotorStorm demo is limited to one track and two vehicles types. Players can choose between two different trucks (with three different paint jobs) or two different motorcycles (also available with three different paint jobs). Obviously, the big heavy trucks handle much differently than light, nimble motorcycles. Bike riders can also throw punches at and kicks at opponents a’la Road Rash. The game itself is 100% arcade racing action. Steering is performed with the left analog stick, while the PS3’s new “triggerish” R2/L2 buttons dish out the gas and brakes. Each car also comes with boost (limited by temperature) and a handbrake, handy for sliding close to (but hopefully not off) ravine edges. Gamers can swap between 1st person and 3rd person views, and honk their horn in vein at vehicles in the way.
MotorStorm features some of the most spectacular videogame crashes ever. Plow into a rock, billboard or guard rail at top speed and you’ll see parts of your truck fly off in every direction. As your car tumbles end over end in slow motion, the game’s virtual camera swoops around the action, noting every detail. The motorcycles don’t explode quite as well, but then again you get to see your poor biker’s body thrown around like a rag doll.
The power of the PlayStation 3 is immediately obvious through MotorStorm. The graphics and framerate are top notch. The framerate blasts along at a steady rate and Sony claims that the full version (which also supports online play) will be even faster. Throughout the game mud constantly flies and sticks. Ruts are formed, items are destroyed, cars are dented. Dirt accumulates on your windshield. The devil is in the details, and MotorStorm is definitely devilish.
MotorStorm demo is still a demo. As such, I encountered multiple bugs in only a short playing time. One frequent bug is that the game occasionally starts without sound effects, with only the background music playing. A quick stop/restart fixes it, but it probably happens one out of every ten games. I also experienced a few wonky collision sequences — during one motorcycle crash my rider hit the ground, began spinning, and took off into the sky like a helicopter. It took almost 30 seconds for him to return from the stratosphere to the brown dirt below.
The full version of MotorStorm has already been released in Japan, but SCEA (desperate for a killer app at this point) continues to tweak the game before its US release. Sony, if you’re out there, here’s what the game needs:
– split screen racing.
– online racing (apparently, already done).
– a way to turn off/abort the crashes (they look great but get old).
– ability to rip/insert your own music.
I’ve spent over $200 on six PS3 games, and I show off the system to friends using the free MotorStorm demo. I can’t wait to see the full version later this spring.