PS3 Reviews: MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review

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MotorStorm: Apocalypse Review

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Graphics:

 

8.4

Gameplay:

 

8.1

Sound:

 

8.2

Control:

 

8.0

Replay Value:

 

8.3

Online Gameplay:

 

8.5

Overall Rating:       8.2

 

 

Publisher:

SCEA

Developer:

Evolution Studios

Number Of Players:

1-4 (1-16 Online)

Genre:

Racing

MotorStorm is one of those games that whitens the knuckles and quickens the pulse, if only because we’re continually absorbed in keeping ourselves on the path. While past criticisms have involved loose control and other small gameplay issues, fans of the franchise typically revel in its all-out, chaotic off-road insanity that keeps the player glued to the screen. Evolution Studios takes the next step in regards this intensity, as they present us with a memorable, dynamic environment in which to race; an atmosphere that, in truth, is nearly unparalleled in the genre. It’s just a continuous blast from start to finish. The control can be iffy depending on the vehicle and sadly, the frustration levels can climb quickly, but Apocalypse remains entertaining and plenty satisfying.

Visually, it’s all about the backdrops. As most of you know, races take place in crumbling urban environments; the post-apocalyptic setting allows for some of the most jaw-dropping background occurrences ever seen. Ranging from falling skyscrapers to crashing airplanes, there’s always something to catch your eye and the detail and special effects are fantastic. Actual vehicle modeling isn’t as great, though, and I always felt the presentation was a touch muddy. After some time, I was looking for more clarity and sharpness, which I never really found. Still, when it comes to an environment dictating a race; i.e., forcing you to continually choose new paths – and always agog at the sights and sounds – there are few that can compete with the latest MotorStorm.

The lively soundtrack helps to bring out the on-screen action and although I’m not the biggest fan of certain music, these selections work. Provided you can get past the horrid voice acting (for future reference, Evolution, racers just don’t need this feature; it almost never works), your surround sound setup should benefit. The startling effects blend well with the soundtrack, which never sounds out of place or overbearing. There’s a solid balance inherent to nicely polished productions, and I won’t quibble when it comes to a few irritating tracks and mediocre voices. All that matters is that when flying down any given course, the technical elements succeed in encapsulating the player in madcap fun.

Let’s start with a big positive: track design. It’s just nuts. This feature clearly received the brunt of Evolution’s effort, and it shows. The courses are meticulously designed and downright gorgeous in some respects; when you factor in the utter maelstrom of chaos that afflicts every track, you get a mesmerizing setting. The ground on which you drive is constantly in danger of evaporating, whether it be from attacking gunfire from chasing choppers or yet another earthquake that rips through the landscape. All of this comes to the forefront in the game’s story-driven Festival Mode: three racers (Mash, Tyler, and Big Dog) set out compete in what appears to be a suicidal battle of the impending elements.

Now, as you might expect, the story isn’t exactly deep or involving. The characters are sort of faceless and clichéd, we’re never really sure why we’re running from certain things, and we really have no idea why these guys insist on sticking around when the city is being evacuated. Presumably, it’s just for the thrill of the race. On top of which – and this may annoy those who require choice in their racing games – you can’t choose your favorite vehicle for a Festival race. You are assigned a vehicle that goes along with the story, which is understandable from a design standpoint in that they basically jam diversity down your throat. Don’t want to experiment with all the vehicle types? Too damn bad; we worked hard to put ‘em in, so you’re trying ‘em all. And trust me, you will want to test them all, because the vehicle type really affects your path through the mess.

I’m still not convinced that control for all vehicles is spot-on but you sort of get used to those eccentricities. And with 9 race environments and 33 separate tracks, along with the new paths that always pop up all around you, boredom doesn’t really lurk beneath the surface. However, my biggest issue is what appears to be a significant luck factor: too many times, I felt unfairly judged, in that I didn’t really make a mistake; the environment just swatted me upside the head. Personally, I dislike any game that causes me to fail for reasons beyond my control. It’s not really a matter of reflexes; it just feels that some of the destruction is absolutely unavoidable. And in particularly irksome situations, you’ll respawn at a terrible point on the track, which results in yet another crash.

This is one of those games where you laugh when you crash, but even so, this got tiresome after a while. Thankfully, if this gets on your nerves, you can try other modes or jump online. If you can get 16 players all going at once in a race, you’re in for an absurd experience. There are three race modes but the true entertainment revolves around the new perks, which include all sorts of power-ups that give you the advantage. Cheap Shot lets you bash opponents with less boost, for instance, and Swift Return means you’ll resurrect in half the time. That’s just a small sampling but believe me when I say that such perks essentially define the multiplayer element. You can also work to unlock new parts and customize your favorite vehicles.

Then you go and toss in the gambling idea and you’ve got a seriously tense online situation. You can bet chips on matches, which immediately lends a certain semblance of strategy to the race. …who’s your horse? Oh, is that why you went out of your way to target that guy? Once you’ve had your fill, head back to offline mode and revel in the collapsing wonder of those environments yet again. A lot of it is just so damn invigorating that it’s tough to drop the controller even for a few minutes. You’ve got the unbelievably visceral visual display, better handling (for some vehicles, anyway), the hectic and highly competitive multiplayer, and some of the best track design you’ll find anywhere. Isn’t that enough incentive to give it a whirl?

You just have to deal with the irritation of crashes that seem inevitable, bad respawn points, horrid voice acting, and inconsistent physics and mechanics that can – if only rarely – infringe on your enjoyment. But overall, MotorStorm: Apocalypse is a boatload of fast-paced fun, infused with an energy that almost seems insurmountable. This energy alone is worthy of your attention.

The Good: Excellent, dynamic visual presentation. Extremely well designed tracks. Changing environment forces one to adapt on the fly. Multiple vehicles are a plus. Multiplayer is a blast.

The Bad: Voice acting is bad. Many crashes feel cheap and impossible to avoid. Story is boring. Physics and control seem just a touch off at times.

The Ugly: “Wait…that tiny upraised crack caused me to explode?!”

5/16/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (32 posts)

thj_1980
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 9:48:54 PM
Reply

Looks good, but i might not be able to adopt the new story mode. I thought the festival the way it was in the previous ones were good.

I'll be picking up mine soon.

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PAKINIPS
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:01:17 PM
Reply

Scored .1 better in the graphics department but pacific rift beat it in everything else.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 2:44:09 AM

As time passes, new standards are set. Simple as that.

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Godslim
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 5:05:45 AM

yeh lawless is right.....things in gaming seem to age quickly

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Temjin001
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:02:38 PM
Reply

THe original Motorstorm stole many hours from me. While 360 owners were gawking at Gears I was gawking at Motorstorm. I love it's brand of racing. Even if it liked to make you crash.

Good review, Ben.
I look forward to playing more online.

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Shams
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:30:22 PM

I agree. Motorstorms rank very high, imo, in terms of visuals and fun. And although I haven't played as many games of the genre as Ben has, I do know that there aren't many, if any at all, that handle as much as Motorstorm does on screen while maintaining 720p, and offering 4 player split-screen, on and offline. And I would love to hear how 3D was in effect, as I know Evolution Studios/Studio Liverpool were using Motorstorm as Sonys flagship for 3D. They are also responsible for the brunt of Sony's 3D research in gaming anyhow. I'd also like to hear about the play/share/create aspects included in the game.

It's a pickup and play arcade racer, so you can't take it as seriously as one would do with GT5. But I also hear Ben about having to enjoy the crashes. Me? I still occasionally pop in Motorstorm with my headset cranked up on Friday/Saturday nights.

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StangMan80
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:25:57 PM
Reply

Great review.
Well I haven't picked mine up.. I know I been saying it was a day one purchase but.. IDK. I really want it for the 4-way split screen. It will be a blast with fiends and family. But because the story of the campaign I might not pick it up for a while.
:/ I guess I'll be getting Dirt 3 soon...

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Kiryu
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:27:10 PM
Reply

Since when does story matter in a racing game?
Playing this game with multiplayer and online and it's damn fun.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, May 16, 2011 @ 10:33:05 PM

It matters the instant a developer puts it in.

How much it matters varies by genre.

Agree with this comment 9 up, 2 down Disagree with this comment

Shams
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 12:07:25 AM

I agree it can enhance or mar the presentation of a game, but in the racing genre, it'll never make or break it. I can see they were aiming for a bit of an Action-Adventure streak, so if it didn't work out, it'll be easy to ignore in the face of everything else the game does.

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Clamedeus
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 6:22:48 AM

@Shams

+1

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 9:17:58 AM

I didn't say it would make it or break it. I said if it's included, it has to matter, regardless of how small the impact is.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 2:26:43 AM
Reply

Second paragraph, first line: 'now' should be 'know'.

On most other sites, I almost always have difficulty getting to the end of a review, but something about the calibre of the writing here just keeps me interested. Love it.

It really does sound like a phenomenal game, and one that I'd love to add to my collection. I'd intended to get it earlier in the year, after the accidental release here, but never got around to it. If I still feel interested it'll be a Christmas purchase, and if not it'll fall by the wayside.
Peace.

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RadioHeader
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 5:20:15 AM

I spotted that, but in that instant I just nowed that you would have already spotted and mentioned it. You should be a professional proofreader guy.

As for what you have to say about the game - I'm in the same boat, but it has a lot to do with GT5.

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 5:52:01 AM

Haha, thanks!

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___________
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 4:26:50 AM
Reply

i think title of the industries most overrated game would have to go to this!
i loved the original, pacific rift was even better!
this though you could not pay me 50M bucks to waste my time on!
the controls are f*cked, the cars control a mix between sim and arcade, crashes are impossible to avoid, its so unbalanced you can be in front by almost a lap, crash once and come last!
3D support was pretty disappointing too, pacific 3D rift was 10 times better!
then what was suppose to be the games strong point, the falling buildings end up being its down point!
allot of the time buildings will come down willy nilly, the camera will take control away to watch the building, then give it back to you 2 milli seconds before you slam into a wall!
so you caused me to crash, i lost a race, and now i have to redo the race because of your f*ck up?
F*CK THAT!
allot of the jumps are poorly placed too, almost every time i hit a ramp it threw me into a obstacle.
how am i suppose to know which ramp will hurl me into a sign, and which one wont?
it is nigh on impossible to do a single race without crashing!
worst racing game ive played in a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG time!

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Lawless SXE
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 5:11:51 AM

I only ever played the demos of MStorm and Pacific Rift, but I played them dozens, if not hundreds of times each, and I don't recall going a single race without crashing or overboosting and blowing whatever vehicle I was racing to smithereens. Control of the vehicles was always a blend of the more intricate on ground control of a sim, with a very arcadey acceleration and airborne system, and unless I'm very much mistaken the series has been hammered since Day 1 because of the balancing issues and rubber band AI.

Adding to that, and it was always advertised that the destruction would be random, adding a real element of surprise into the races, and I remember seeing quite a few videos in which the camera pulled away from the race to show off the destruction and the player stuffing up because of it. I guess what I'm raving about is that you really should have expected most of the things that you're complaining about.
Peace.

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Clamedeus
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 6:28:59 AM

You always have a problem with something, that's no surprise.

First I believe it had to do something with Uncharted 2's controls saying it was bad and clunky..

You had some good positive posts but it seems to be more negative than positive these past few days..

If it'll make you feel better I'll bake a cake for you. ;)

Last edited by Clamedeus on 5/17/2011 6:29:07 AM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 9:20:11 AM

If you took your medication more often, you wouldn't suck at these games.

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___________
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 9:25:51 AM

ben, seriously how old are you?
for once can you answer a question without insulting me?
i feel like im talking to a freaking preschooler!
O, and while were on the subject i take medication daily.
horse radish and garlic, vitamin B, and cod liver and oil to starve off colds.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 9:54:28 AM

You didn't ask a question. And in your wild rantings, you insult people constantly.

You also continually post your opinion as if it's universal fact, which is getting annoying.

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Highlander
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 2:59:34 PM

"starve off" colds? Perhaps you should eat more, it would help you stave off colds more effectively than starving them off can.

;)

Petty I know, but I *had* to do it.

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Lairfan
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 6:18:17 PM

Dude, you shouldn't be complaining about how Ben insults you all the time. You bring it on yourself with your incessant and completely negative rants about everything.

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___________
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 @ 8:11:47 AM

i do not, i put my opinion out there thats it.
hows that stating it as fact?
plus almost everything i complained about up top you complained about in the review, so does that mean you should be on meds too?
all im saying is i can never have a civilized conversation on here, i never have this problem on other sites.
i feel like ive stepped into a lions den spilled there beers and am dripping with blood!
every time i bring this place up people laugh and say why do you waste your time at that high throne place?
always wondered what they meant, now i know!
no wonder everyone on CVG, IGN, and co hates ya!
all i want is a civilized place to discuss problems, without constantly being insulted.
from these drowns i expected it, but from you?
come on, as i said before, your acting like a 10 year old boy after mommy said no im not buying you that toy!
i enjoy discussing things at times here, but come on.
can we please stop acting like preschoolers?
deal?

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Scarecrow
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 10:15:32 AM
Reply

Great game. I'm actually glad they added the story mode. It might not be the greatest but who doesn't like some kind of story to immerse yourself into?

I love racers and I love rally. And no game does off road rally better than Motorstorm!

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Temjin001
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 11:30:06 AM

The story is apocalypse is something I don't think anyone can immerse thselves in. You'd have a better chance of that on cartoon network.

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NoSmokingBandit
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 10:29:46 AM
Reply

Is the AI better than Pacific Rift? I hated the rubber-band difficulty and how the AI would cheat. I'd very much like to play Apocalypse, but not if the AI is the same as PR.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 4:42:47 PM

Eh...they don't really seem to cheat, but they're crazy aggressive.

The environment will cause you to crash just as often as your opponents.

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Zen_Zarab
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 11:33:50 AM
Reply

I played some races on pro first time trying this game out and came in first most of the time on the first try. I didn't try Hardcore/Veteran or w/e that last difficulty is called xD.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Tuesday, May 17, 2011 @ 4:42:09 PM

It's plenty easy on Rookie, which is where you start.

Things get iffy in the higher difficulties.

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PS3_Mom
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 @ 8:49:08 PM
Reply

I might have to try this. I suck at racing games (and I don't take any meds, lol). If not crashing is impossible, then I don't have to worry about it. I saw the video about the game in ps home today and it looked wild and fun. Like I could just have fun without really worrying about doing well.

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DjEezzy
Wednesday, May 18, 2011 @ 9:28:59 PM
Reply

______ I would suggest you go to the other sites who do tolerate your negativity. Ben is 100% right. You do usually offend at least a couple people with your remarks and you also act as if your opinion is fact. Just like when you said 3D doesn't look great. I know many people, actually everyone i've met so far that's seen it that would strongly disagree with you. No one cares if you want to trash a game with a paragraph full of expletives. No one cares about your opinion because it is always negative. Go to CVG then.

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