MotorStorm is more than a game; itís a demonstration of the power sitting under the PlayStation 3ís hood. Itís hard not to be impressed with the gameís amazing visuals. If you want to show someone what your PS3 is capable of, this is the game to do it with. The gameplay is fast, exciting, and original, but unfortunately itís also thin. Itís like the game really was first designed as a demo, with the gameplay added as needed to show off one particular effect or another. Itís a great ride, but itís more of a ride around the block than a cross-country road trip.
MotorStorm is all about dirt racing with a rock festival vibe. What really makes it different than other off-road racers youíve played before is that the races are free-for-alls that include every kind of vehicle from dirt bikes up to big rigs on the track at the same time. Making things even more interesting is the fact that there are multiple paths through each of the courses and that some of these paths are better suited to one particular vehicle type than the others. For example, a thin ledge along a cliff face with jumps placed at the edges of chasms is great for a dirt bike or ATV, but murder for a big rig. Conversely, a muddy river bed filled with small boulders is where a large vehicle can blow past dirt bikes floundering in the mud. Your success is dependent on picking the routes that play to your vehicleís strengths.
The races are made all the more exciting by their free-for-all nature. Your competition is not above giving you a nudge over the edge of a cliff or forcing you to slam into a boulder. The variety of vehicles in each race adds to the mayhem. When youíre in a big rig youíll take perverse pleasure in plowing through an ATV, and thereís a certain satisfaction when on a bike derived from zipping between two heavies and watching them both miss you and slam into each other.
The races all take place on desert courses that have a strong Desert Southwest/Monument Valley vibe to them. The tracks are nothing short of gorgeous, from the scenic splendor of the desert vistas to the detailed strata of the rock walls lining the tracks. As the races progress the tracks show the wear and tear of it all; car parts litter the track, tires dig troughs in the mud, and pieces of the scenery begin to bear the scares of vehicular impacts. About the only thing negative you can say about the tracks is that there arenít enough of them.
The vehicles in the game look fantastic. The bike and ATV riders shift constantly to maintain their balance and when they crash they go tumbling through the air so realistically itís hard not to cringe when they hit the ground. The larger vehicles will show realistic damage during the race, from dented bumpers to doors swinging on their hinges and wobbling tires. The vehicles really look their best when theyíre crashing; the camera will swing around to give you a good view of the crash in all itís flame-spitting, part-dropping glory. The cars look so good that itís a shame that you only get a good look at your vehicle when it is coming apart Ė youíll spend the races looking at your tailgate or not at all if you choose the alternate driverís view. Itís an even bigger shame that you canít customize your vehicles in the game. Each vehicle comes with a few stock paint jobs and theyíre all pretty cool, but Iíve been able to create custom paint jobs on my cars in racing games for some time now and itís surprising that I canít do that in a cutting-edge PS3 game.