|Dev: Evolution Studios|
|Release: May 3, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Crude Humor, Drug Reference, Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Prior to MotorStorm: Apocalypse, it was easy to think that the MotorStorm had been everywhere it was going to go. From the frozen Arctic Edge to the delightfully tropic Pacific Rim, MotorStorm had done an excellent job of promoting virtual race track tourism, and created quite a few nice set pieces along the way. But it seems developer Evolution Studios was not ready to scout out a new location for their new MotorStorm game and instead went for a location that couldn't be found on any map: the end of the world.
OK, so maybe the premise of MotorStorm Apocalypse isn't exactly the Book of Revelations, but it sure does come close. Apparently there's an island that's about to be devastated by a planet-altering earthquake. The place has already been evacuated, and as condemned buildings crash around the landscape, there's only one logical conclusion MotorStorm faithful can come to: it's time for a MotorStorm festival! Unfortunately, there's some complications. First off, there are quite a few drifters who have stayed behind, and aren't willing to share their land with MotorStorm participants. And in even more bad news, the military has been called in, and they're not happy that you're sticking around. Of course, why they would be firing missiles at you while the world around you is already coming down is beyond me, but since the story is for an automotive game, we'll forgive its contrivances.
But of course, the worst news of all is that tremors have started occurring, and between the earth-shaking below you and the storm clouds gathering above you, the world of MotorStorm Apocalypse really does look like it is coming to an end. Sure, the military and local militia can present driving complications, but it will be the shaking ground and spinning tornadoes that really make Apocalypse a challenging game.
Though the game attempts to tell a cohesive story about three main characters and their roles within the hierarchal MotorStorm world, the story and character really take a backseat to the world of Apocalypse, which is a wonderful thing to behold. You will be treated to several cutscenes that will drive the story forward and are presented as a stylized motion comic, but I'd be lying if I told you I sat through all the backstory before jumping into a race. The plot is just a little too contrived, and at the end of the day, when I play MotorStorm, I don't care about feuds or characters. I just want to race. Fortunately, all the cutscenes are skippable, and you can get straight to the meat of the game without delay in most circumstances (sometimes you'll have to wait a few seconds for some loading to occur).
Although most tracks start off fairly tame, from the moment you hit the acceleration button, everything starts falling apart. Evolution Studios has done a great job giving each track life as a living, breathing entity that changes almost continuously as you race. Buildings fall apart, bridges collapse, and even the road under your tires isn't safe. MotorStorm: Apocalypse not only puts you in a dangerous environment, but invites you to become part of it. One memorable level has you racing around on the tops of skyscrapers as they fall to the ground. Time everything wrong, and you'll go down with them. And as you loop around the track, you'll have to find new ways of getting around, as areas of the track will become inaccessible as they are destroyed.
The game's destructive elements reminded me a lot of last year's Split/Second, but more extreme. While Split/Second featured a lot of explosions that would alter the course, these explosions were very contrived, and you could plan your racing strategy around avoiding them. However, in MotorStorm: Apocalypse, the nearly-constant destruction of everything around you makes racing a reactionary experience. While speed and strategy are still important parts of the MotorStorm racing experience, survival becomes an important tertiary element, and if you can't immediately react to a flaming semi truck hurtling towards you or a collapsing overpass, then you won't succeed in MotorStorm: Apocalypse.