MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Review
MotorStorm: Pacific Rift box art
System: PS3 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Evolution Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SONY 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: October 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 (20 Online) 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Not So Pacific
by Jonathan Marx

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift takes PS3 owners back to the mayhem of the world's most dangerous racing festival. The red Coyote and Road Runner landscapes of Utah's Monument Valley have been substituted by a far more diverse Hawaii-like Pacific island. The change in geography, subtle tweaks to gameplay, and even more polished controls make this beautiful racer a more enjoyable experience than its predecessor, while maintaining the arcade feel and festival vibe of the original.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift screenshot

The MotorStorm uninitiated should know that this is an arcade racer that uses incredible graphics, a wonderful sense of speed, off-road tracks, bump and grind tactics, and branched routing to distinguish itself. Unlike sim racers such as NASCAR and Formula 1, players are free to find their own lines to the finish. As such, courses race very differently depending on what route you take, which vehicle you choose, and even what lap you're on (shortcuts previously closed off by obstacles may have been opened up by the A.I. blasting through on the first lap). If I had to compare this racer to anything, I would say MotorStorm: Pacific Rift is most similar to the X-Games' Boarder-X, but with 16 cars and a lot more destruction. The resulting hectic gameplay is a blast with both humans and A.I. competitors.

The Pacific island backdrop of MotorStorm: Pacific Rift proves to be the perfect setting to show off the series' trademark visuals and to expand the types of tracks available to participants. Track environments run the gamut from lush tropical jungles filled with mud and waterfalls to the desolate fiery inferno of obsidian-laden, volcanic debris fields. These courses are divided into four types: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. As you can imagine, each course under that descriptor uses the element to define the track. Earth tracks tend to be muddy and filled with vegetation. Air tracks feature suspended sections and jumps. Fire races have players manage the extreme heat of lava fields and avoid the perilous magma at all costs. Finally, Water courses feature a lot of stream beds and waterfalls.

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Players will advance through the MotorStorm festival by bopping around the various terrain categories, earning points for a win, place, or show, and then unlocking new tracks, racers, custom paint jobs, vehicles, and challenges. All this unlocking, like in the original, propels gamers forward by rewarding their accomplishments with worthwhile content; while rising up through the MotorStorm ranks, players will be treated to interesting twists on new and familiar tracks with expanded sections, cool new automobiles that handle very distinctly, and challenges that completely change a race's characteristics. Familiar tracks are continually being augmented with new portions that force you to learn new lines.

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift screenshot

Also, Pacific Rift offers players eight different classes of vehicles to choose from, including monster trucks, ATVs, rally cars, buggies, motorbikes, race trucks, mudpluggers, and big rigs. The multitude of interesting and disparate vehicles that become available all control very uniquely, and they allow players to take on tracks in completely different ways. Often, I found tracks to be a breeze to pass through with certain vehicles, but then they became quite challenging to best with others, until I found the appropriate line to take. This provides for a lot of replay value.

Finally, opening up new challenge tickets will also test your driving ability in distinct ways. For instance, the aptly named Wreck Limit challenge is similar to a standard race except you'll have to get around the track without exceeding a crash allotment. This makes you take a far less aggressive approach. There are also Speed challenges that feel like a cross between a slalom course and the old Outrun! arcade titles, where your time is extended by passing through gates. This challenge emphasizes finesse and efficiency. Finally, my favorite challenge was that of Eliminator, which removes contestants from the race every 15 seconds by exploding the current last place challenger's vehicle until only the winner remains; talk about seriously frantic fun!

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift screenshot

All in all, there are 16 courses, each packed with a lot of variety. Every course is meticulously crafted, establishes its own characteristic, and keeps gamers guessing. Though 16 courses is certainly a reasonable offering, I couldn't help but wish there were a lot more of them. Mostly this is due to the fact that each course is beautiful and a lot of fun to race, but partly it's due to the fact that there's a lot of repetition over the course of the single-player campaign. Doubtless, the amount of tracks will be increased with future DLC, but I would have loved to see another half dozen out of the box.

Screenshots / Images
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