Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Review: MotorStorm

About twelve years ago I was driving along the highway when I saw something so beautiful I let out a barely audible Keanu Reeves-like “Whoa.” A 1968 Chevy Camaro was parked just off the side of the road and it was gorgeous. It was cherry red with two white racing stripes streaking up the hood and sliding down the very small trunk. For two weeks the For Sale sign in its window had me daydreaming about getting rid of my current rust bucket and roaring down the highway like a man with his hair on fire. Tired of drooling all over myself every time I passed the Camaro, I decided it was time to talk to the owner, a mechanic.
Up close, the car was even more stunning than I thought. The interior was spotless and everywhere there were gauges that measured random things that were lost on a non-gearhead like me. The engine had so much chrome on it you had to lift the hood in the shade for fear of being blinded by the reflection. It was like staring at a lighthouse. It was a thing of beauty, until I turned the ignition. The car sounded worse than Speed Buggy but being young, stupid and completely inexperienced with cars I let the older mechanic assuage my fears telling me it just needed tuning up and it would run great. He lied. Six months and a ton of repair bills later I traded my beautiful Camaro straight-up for a two-door hatchback. As usual, I learned my lesson the hard way – looks can be deceiving.
While I never made the same mistake with another car again, I have been tricked by beautiful video games and this continues to be a problem. I saw the new PS3 game “MotorStorm” at a Best Buy the day before it was released. The graphics were so amazing I had to get it. On the day it came out I headed over to GameCrazy and threw down my $60, (SCEA doesn’t send me squat!) ran home and popped in the disc. I was so happy to have a game besides “Resistance” to play on the PS3, or so I thought. Once again I had been tricked! Gaahh!!!
“MotorStorm” is set in a Mad Maxian world where large groups of people like to race each other in different parts of the Grand Canyon, trying to smash each others rides or plow them off of cliffs in a sprint to the finish line. There are a nice variety of vehicles that gamers will get to drive – motorcycles, dune buggies, ATV’s, trucks and rigs each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
The graphics are Heidi Klum gorgeous, in fact its probably the best looking game I’ve ever seen. The lighting effects and race courses are so photo-realistic; gamers will feel like wiping mud off of their faces as it gets splattered on the screen. The vehicles all have attention to detail that is second to none and show wear and tear as the race goes on. The crashes (and you’ll see plenty) are both hilarious and spectacular as bits and pieces of cars fly every which way. If you’re the daring sort you can even turn on the motion sensor on the Sixaxis controller and try steering your vehicle yourself.
While all of this sounds spectacular, it doesn’t come close to making up for “MotorStorm’s” glaring weaknesses. The game play is atrocious! The steering is looser than a Cripple Creek slot machine (or so they say). Even experienced racing gamers will find themselves falling off of cliffs, mistiming jumps, and blowing themselves up over and over and over again by hitting even the smallest of objects. The first few times this is amusing, funny even, but after awhile its (John) maddening!
“MotorStorm” is also missing a number of classic racing game features. There is no on-screen map, no radar to tell you where your opponents are, only 8 race tracks, no vehicle ratings, only two measly camera angles, no rear view, and only one race type. Worst of all there is no off-line multiplayer! How am I supposed to race with friends when they come over?
Throw in the frequent PS3 updates that make you restart your console, the long loading times that were supposed to go the way of Britney Spears sanity with the death of the PS2, and the screaming garbage for music that passes as a soundtrack for this title and gamers are left with a beautiful game that’s like a velvet painting of Elvis. Oh it might look good and catch your eye, but you don’t really want to own one. The only place racing fans will get any enjoyment is online (where the human drivers crash and burn as much as you do) but even that is tarnished by the long queue gamers have to endure while waiting for races to finish. Its not worth the wait.
The heart of any video game is in its game play and that’s where “MotorStorm” is severely lacking. Combine this with its weak list of features and this game is nothing more than eye candy. Once again I’ve learned something the hard way, I’m just thankful it wasn’t a car.
Price: $59.99
Category: Off-road racing
Players: One (Up to 12 online)
Formats: PS3
Grade: C-
Terry's Top 5 All-Time Racing Games
1. Super Mario Kart (Super NES) - Best console racing game ever.
2. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PS2) - One of the best looking games on the PS2 with super realistic driving controls.
3. Project Gotham Racing 3 (Xbox 360) - Beautiful game, excellent controls, with a nice variety of locales.
4. Ivan "Ironman" Stewarts Super Off Road Racer (Arcade) - This 1989 arcade game is the best arcade racer ever.
5. GTA series (PS2) - While there's a lot of other stuff going on and its not a traditional racing series, the driving aspects of the GTA series are a blast. There is no game out there with a wider variety of vehicles to drive and a more open world to drive them in.

1 comment:

JohnX said...

Your list of top 5 racing games sucks so I'm going to add my own list:
1)Burnout Revenge (360)
1 1/2)Burnout 3 Takedown (XBOX)
2)Flatout 2 with Flatout 1 close behind. (PC)
3)Toca Race Driver 3 (or DTM Race Driver for UK) (PC)
4)PGR 3 (360)
5)GTR 2 (PC)