MotorStorm: Arctic Edge Preview
Along with mega franchises such as God of War, LittleBigPlanet, and Gran Turismo, Sony is also treating the PSP to an iteration of their newest off-road racer: MotorStorm. Titled MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, the name of this all new PSP entry tells the tale; this time around you're hitting the ice and will make your way through a number of Alaskan slipper slopes.
Developed by Bigbig Studios, I had the chance to spend some time with MotorStorm: Arctic Edge at a Sony gathering in New York City, and I was impressed to see the game running so effortlessly on the PSP, not to mention faithfully. The gameplay feels very much like the MotorStorm games on the PS3 do, especially the physics engine, which has been a very integral aspect of the games since the first one. So it's very nice to see the PSP game performing at a level of quality that is higher than what I had expected.
Viewing the game on the PSP's screen provides for a much more clear and crisp image, as opposed to routing the picture to a TV. Still, despite the smaller screen size, the game still manages to show off some fantastic track designs that come complete with the signature jumps, routes, and gorgeous scenery. 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.
Because there are essentially 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 are: 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. There should be just about 25 total vehicles in the game, which is a sizable number, and 12 tracks to race them on.
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 was told it wasn't done randomly, and it's because the A.I. nearby was honking at me, and I had exploded a few times. It was very, very cool. There are also collapsible ice bridges that can give-way if a large vehicle crosses over them - it's all very cool stuff.
Now, some of you may know that the game is also coming to the PlayStation 2. So if you're wondering what's the point of the PSP game, 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 online gameplay for up to eight-players, 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, but that means no on-the-go fun.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is set to launch September 29th for the PSP, and October 9th for the PlayStation 2. Whichever version you pick up, you'll enjoy both tremendously. And chances are if you own a PS2 and PSP, you may end up springing for both at $30 a pop.
8/10/2009 Arnold Katayev