The mud flinging racer Motorstorm returns to the track for a more diverse offering in Pacific Rift. The original Motorstorm was pretty freaking awesome, and we are happy to declare that Evolution Studios has upped the auntie making Motorstorm: Pacific Rift even more freaking awesome then the first!
In a racing path of destruction Motorstorm: Pacific Rift makes sure gamers take notice when Pacific Rift is running in full motion. Motorstorm is the ultimate off-roading game of destructive racing. If you haven’t heard of Motorstorm in the past, it is an adrenaline filled off-road racer that was released last year exclusive to the Playstation 3. The straight ahead racing and intensely detailed graphics was enough to make Motorstorm a success with a 80+ average on Metacritic. Motorstorm was excellent, but it still had a few issues that needed to be addressed, and Evolution got the message loud and clear. Motorstorm needed more tracks, more vehicle variants and split screen multiplayer to be the epic racer it could be. Well, Evolution Studios has heard the pleading gamer community and answers all our needs in Pacific Rift.
The fictional Motorstorm gathering returns in Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. This time the festival isn’t being held in the middle of the desert, it’s an island with many different faces. Motorstorm doesn’t pretend to have a plot line, you basically see a bunch of vehicles getting airlifted and then it’s right into the action. The simplistic bare bones career mode returns with a ticker of events to pass through. Improved from the original, a few new modes have been added to the racing making the game feel a little more dynamic than simple A to B racing. As you climb the horizontal ladder in the festival ranks the difficulty will increase along with the addition of the new modes. The new modes are your normal mill-of-the-run checkpoint, eliminator, and timed runs. These modes might lack some originality, but at least its a little variation.
The amount environments in Pacific Rift has been doubled. The original Motorstorm only had 8 tracks, so now we have 16 tracks to enjoy. These tracks are split up into four categories called earth, wind, fire, and water. Each tack listing has associated parameters set up around the matching title element. For earth races you will need to deal with more mud and thick jungles with a lot of hanging undergrowth. Wind maps require you to race along mountain tops while getting a lot of air from massive jumps. Water is filled with a lot of swampy floods and rivers, and Fire puts you on the hot volcanic surface dogging lava pools.
Each specific level takes a certain amount of strategy to get through it in first place. This is contributed by the vehicle you drive and the routes you take during the race. In the Earth maps for instance a motorcycle will be able to get through small paths, but has to watch out for all the vegetation blocking the road where as the bigger vehicles can’t access the small alternative routes, but can plough right through the shrubs and smaller woodland objects. Another consideration is the addition of water which can come in the form of little rivers to large lagoons in the middle of map. Depending on your vehicle type this could sink smaller vehicles like ATVs where as larger trucks can plough right through it. Water can cool down your engine allowing you to use more boost, but it will slow you down at the same time. In the Fire levels there are cool tunnels made with sprinkler systems running through it so you can use this tactic even when it is hotter than hell. The overall design of each map is distinctly intricate and interesting. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift has out done it self with some of the best racing levels seen in ages.
The vehicle classes haven’t been messed around with too much. Besides more variations on styles and liveries you still get the original seven classes (Bikes, ATVs, Buggies, Rally Cars, Racing Trucks, Mud Pluggers and Big Rigs). The new addition in Pacific Rift are imposing Monster Trucks. Monster Trucks are big and fast, but easy can easily be tipped over. They can also crush enemies out of their way with ease, well every one except the rigs which stand up to the monster trucks as their main opposition. Like all the vehicles in each race anyone can win when played right. Trophies in the game are given away to performing well in each class, so have fun with it and race your buggy right between two big rigs. At times the smaller vehicles can be a lot more fun when you have the big boys’ steam rolling in your rear view mirror. Unlike other games that don’t have a major difference in classes, Motorstorm makes you feel like you are on the ride of a lifetime.
Multiplayer returns in Pacific Rift with split-screen action supporting up to 4 players. This will make a lot of gamers happy. Nothing is better than having a group of buddies over racing on one TV. It is kind of like the old days when split-screen action was all the rage. Now you can enjoy true online multiplayer races with support for 12 players along with the more traditional in house style. The expanded multiplayer is taking Motorstorm in the right direction, all its needs now are some of the frilly features that inhabits most of the newer racing games like Forza, and Gran Turismo. How about Motorstorm TV?
The music selection in Motorstorm plays a big role to keep your adrenaline pumping with 45 licensed tunes. There are even nine exclusive bangers to Pacific Rifts credit. The metal tracks are my favourites as they pound the double bass, and rocked out power chords. For a few names you will hear everything from David Bowie to Nirvana and Fatboy Slim. On the other side of the tunes, Motorstorm’s engine fire up with the same vicious growl making this a superb game to crank up and play a few laps.
Graphically Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is a monster pumping out breathtaking visuals and interesting map designs with an ultra solid framerate. Even online I had very few moments of lag which corresponded with the split-screen action. When the world is flashing by your visor at 240mph + you don’t have much time to look, but when you do the environments and level of detail is outstanding. The vehicles look more detailed this time around as well with an interesting design from a bare-bones framed version of some buggies to the massive overhauling jet engine propelling the big rig. The first Motorstorm was impressive specimen and it seems Evolution is evolving their game when it comes to pushing the PS3 to new limits. Pacific Rift almost begs for HD and large screen, this one is a looker.
For problems, well Pacific Rift is fairly solid, but as always no game is perfect. One feature that I would like to see would be customizable vehicles. I have been talking about since the first Motorstorm and I believe the games style would it lend itself perfectly to some more in-depth vehicle customization. It would be awesome to create your own racer in each class and work towards improving through out the game. Pacific Rift has a touch of the loosely goose which means the controls are a little too wildly loose at times. This is most apparent when you are driving the motorcycle because you can bend the chaise like your Neo dogging agents bullets. The loose controls don’t affect the game too much and it’s something you will quickly get used to. This is an arcade racer after all and as long as the feel is semi-close to the real deal then that is good enough for me. The last criticism I could add is that the terrain is a too bouncy as it can feel like the gravel has been mixed with silly putty. Again like the controls the rubberish terrain is a minor point which is easily overlooked.
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is the perfect treatment for gamers who want a down-and-dirty old school racing experience. Forget about being "pure"ly ATVs, Motorstorm hits you with eight distinct vehicles classes mixed up in a cloud of exhaust fumes and controlled chaos. Pacific Rift is a marginal improvement from the original which is what you want out in a sequel. The gameplay isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t have to be. Evolution Studios had the formula nailed in the first game, now they have only expanded on it. Don’t overlook Motorstorm: Pacific Rift this holiday season as it is one best pick-up-and-play games this year. Until Motorstorm 3, we wil be tearing it up in the Pacific.