Motorstorm Pacific Rift hands on
20/10/2008 at 09:39
It was a bit of a system seller, the original Motorstorm...
Well it was for me at least, because it was the game I picked up when I was idiotic enough to shell out for a PS3 over a year ago. Though Evolution Studios could really do with pushing out another WRC title (they won't, of course but we can hope can't we?), Motorstorm 1 was a very competent and pretty off roader hanging its badge firmly on the cloth of arcade racer rather than slippy-slidey rally sim.
Motorstorm 2: Pacific Rift has been shown off to the press previously, and also released as a limited beta. It looks like the European PSN store demo is the latter, an old build of the code and not the prettier slicker version the press have already had their greasy Nando-covered mitts all over.
The demo gives you a single track, the option to race in split screen, and three vehicles. That's your lot. Despite being shallower than a teaspoon full of gnat's jizz, it does at least hint that Evolution Studios are obviously thinking along the lines of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
The demo sticks you in on the Raingod Peak track, a dizzying vertiginous course with plenty of opportunity to send your chosen vehicle spinning off into gaping chasms. In fact the first two or three runs at the demo saw me doing exactly this, with a little too much over-zealous boosting.
The three vehicles on offer are a motorbike, a racing buggy and a monster truck. The bike is by far the most responsive and easiest vehicle to get to grips with. Grip being the operative word because it seems that both the racing buggy and the monster truck couldn't corner if they were on rails, the handling model seems a little bit too slippery and slidey for vehicles that are supposedly purpose built for off road.
On two wheels then, Pacific Rift feels almost identical to Motorstorm 1. If anything, the visuals feel a little less polished (though once again it's worth drawing attention to the fact that this is really old code - which beggars the question "why bother releasing it as a demo then you chimps!")
One good thing is that the game consistently keeps up a healthy framerate. My cyborg vision didn't calculate the frames per second accurately enough, suffice to say that even with 16 vehicles on the track things didn't slow down or stutter at all, which is a positive sign.
The Raingod track is lacking polish too. It could well be that the courses will be properly dressed with the final build but all those tiddly little details and niceties front and present in Motorstorm 1 are missing from the demo of Pacific Rift, and once again let's hope this is just because of the early build code and not because sacrifices have been made to keep things running smoothly.
Shoulder charge and barge
In addition to the usual control methods you can opt for the (almost impossible to handle) Sixaxis tilt steering method once again. There are a couple of extra tweaks to what your vehicle can do too. You can swiftly tap a shoulder button in order to sideswipe a member of the opposition. This comes in handy if you're driving something a little less pissy than a two-stroke motorcycle, naturally - so if you've finally worked out the nuances of controlling the monster truck you're in for a lot of fun barging other people off the track into the ether.
As with Motorstorm 1, the racing action is frantic and chaotic with the AI taking every step to ensure that you get squished, driven over and turned into flaming wreckage (hooray that Evolution finally opted for a "skip tedious vehicle death cam" button this time round though).
In split-screen the game doesn't suffer visually and if you've got a couple of mates round, Pacific Rift really comes into its own and can be fiercely competitive as you jostle for position with human and AI opponents. This should be extended to online multiplayer with Evo promising 16 player races online.
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift looks like it's going to be more of a slight buff and polish job for the original game, with a different setting (hopefully there'll be some of the series' trademark mud and slop to drive through as well as the relatively sterile track on offer in the demo).
With online prices teetering at just over the 30 quid mark, it could be a bargain purchase if nothing else is troubling your gaming schedule (at this time of year? Are you kidding?)
From the demo it's by no means an essential insta-purchase or system seller but if you got on OK with the original and liked it enough to want more of the same, then Pacific Rift should find a place in your Christmas stocking.
Motorstorm Pacific Rift will be released on the 7th November 2008.