MotorStorm: Arctic Edge Review
MotorStorm is a great franchise, and it's unfortunate that the PSP game, which launched before the PS2 game, hasn't performed very well in sales. The PS2 version is now here, as well, and I really cannot stress how great both versions are. Granted, there are some differences between the two games, and the PSP version is actually more feature filled, but you can't go wrong with either game. In fact, the game is so fully-featured, Sony even chose to bring it to the PlayStation 2, and it's a good thing that they did. I enjoy the franchise because it's awesome playing a game like MotorStorm and listening to pre-Black Metallica. I don't know, I guess there's something really kick ass and metal about off-road games that really gets me in the mood to listen to stuff like Metallica, or Trivium, maybe Killswitch, or Bodom.
Titled Arctic Edge, the name of this all new PS2 and PSP entry tells the tale; this time around you're hitting the ice and will make your way through a number of Alaskan slippery slopes. There are a number of surprises with the game. First being that it's not developed by MotorStorm's PS3 developer Evolution Studios. Instead, Arctic Edge is developed by Bigbig Studios, who have been responsible for both the Pursuit Force games on the PSP. My first time with MotorStorm: Arctic Edge was at a Sony gathering in New York City months ago, and I walked away impressed. Now, with my own copy here, I love seeing how nice the game runs on the PS2, not to mention faithfully. The gameplay feels very much like the MotorStorm games on the PS3 do, right down to the physics engine (that being the second surprise), which has been a very integral aspect of the games since the first one. So it's very nice to see the PS2 game performing at a level of quality that is higher than what I had expected.
Each and every one of the 24 unique vehicles, across the eight classes, offer individual characteristics as far as feel and handling goes. Now, despite the arctic theme, not every track in the game bombards you with icy and snowy roads, as there's still more than a fair share of dirt, gravel, and mud to be found, giving you a mixture of new and old terrain types. Because there are four surface patches to race across, the game comes well equipped with the proper vehicles, many of which are obviously all new and specific to this entry. The vehicles that make up the 24 include: bikes, snowmobiles, ATVs, buggies, rally cars, snowpluggers, big rigs, and snowplows. If you've ever wanted to know what a big rig would feel like in the snow, Arctic Edge shows you just how much fun it is.
With these 24 vehicles, you are given a hearty 12 tracks to explore. These tracks are fully interactive, and even though you may have heard this spiel before, you've probably never really experienced it executed very well. But in Arctic Edge, excessively honking your horn and explosions can actually trigger an avalanche to occur. When it happened to me, I found out it wasn't done randomly, and it's because the A.I. nearby was honking at me, and I had exploded a few times from overboosting - disrupting the collected snow around the mountains. It was very, very cool. There are also collapsible ice bridges that can give-way if a large enough vehicle crosses over them - it's all fantastic stuff.
Gameplay comes complete with a Festival mode, which serves as your main career mode. Here is where you do most of your racing in order to progress throughout the game. If you feel like a quick burst, you've got Free Play to race against eight other opponents, or Time Trial, which is self explanatory. But, and this is a huge but, it's the online gameplay that is absolutely astonishing here. Boasting room for up to eight gamers to compete simultaneously, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge defines what it means to be a full-blown portable franchise getting carried over from a console. Everything about the online setup is done right, which goes to show other games have little excuse to mess theirs up.
Now, many of you may know that the game is also available on the PSP. So if you're wondering what's the point of the PSP game, when you can enjoy the experience on a proper screen, allow me to tell you. First, the PSP game gets custom soundtracks - and that's one massive reason. Second, the PSP game gets a photo mode. Third, and perhaps the most critical, the PSP game also gets that awesome eight-player online gameplay I just mentioned, meanwhile the PS2 game only gets four-player split-screen. But of course, the PS2 version has the advantage of better visuals, since it is on a more powerful home console. And even though the PSP now boasts Video-Out support, playing the PSP's Arctic Edge on a TV results in lower visual quality, as opposed to the PS2 game.
On that note, it should be said that the PS2 game looks fairly nice, as the game manages to show off some fantastic track designs that come complete with the signature jumps, routes, and gorgeous scenery. Arctic Edge is certainly a well done game with a graphics and physics engine that really does some impressive things. The vehicles also exhibit good looking design and texture work, and the lighting is well done too. As it always has been, it's the tracks and their scenery that'll win you over, proving once more that this MotorStorm is not a hand-me-down, but rather, the real deal.
Unlike the PSP version, the obvious lack of custom soundtracks doesn't help the audio score as high as the PSP version did. Custom soundtracks always score huge bonus points with me, and this is no different. But, the damage isn't bone, because even the stock soundtrack that comes with the game boasts 20 songs from bands like Radiohead, The Prodigy, Motorhead, and many others. Also, sound effects are pretty lively, especially if you're running your PlayStation 2 through a nice audio setup - the crashes, explosions, and the sounds of the vehicles sound really nice and loud, similarly to the PS3 game.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge for the PS2 is still great despite missing a features the PSP game has. At its very core, it does everything that the PS3 games have been doing for years now, with the one and only major difference being the visual sacrifice. But even still, it's a solid looking PS2 game. With the Festival mode featuring 100 races, four-player split-screen capability, superb sound complete with a nice soundtrack, great physics, and signature gameplay design, any envious PS2 owner would be a fool to pass up MotorStorm: Arctic Edge.
11/11/2009 Arnold Katayev