Buckle Up, It’s Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride!
For those of you who are familiar with the MotorStorm series, you know all about what makes these games great. The multitude of vehicle types, the completely destructible off-road environments, the real-time events, the myriad of ways to traverse the tracks, and the spectacular graphics, are all just the tip of the iceberg this time around. The newest installment in the series takes you to a place that would only occur under the most perfect of circumstances. Lucky for us, the stars have triumphantly aligned on this one.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse takes players to The City, an apocalyptic urban environment loosely based around California’s Bay Area, and for the first time in the series, Evolution Studios will be taking on a more story-driven approach to its game. But don’t be too concerned, it’s not as bad as it may sound. The developers are firm in the idea that this is primarily a racing game and are only looking for a unique approach that’s appropriate for the MotorStorm franchise. So if you got the idea that it will feature some epic-adventure storyline, then I give you the go-ahead to breathe your sigh of relief, because that just isn’t the case.
What it will feature, in terms of plot, are three distinct perspectives to coincide with the three difficulty levels in the game. The first, being the easiest and obviously most accessible playthrough, will feature “The Rookie” character named Mash, followed by “The Survivor” character, Tyler, and lastly “The Big Dog.”. Each character will have a unique outlook throughout the entire three-day festival and each will witness persistent in-game events separately. What the developers mean by this is, that if you start a playthrough as Mash, for example, you may see some sort of giant crater in the middle of a track and think, “hmm, that’s interesting.” However, once you eventually proceed through the game with “The Big Dog” character, the crater’s reason for being will have come to light, since his in-game events would have taken place earlier in the storyline’s chronology.
Aside from the main characters’ importance to the overall story, we saw a recent demo showing off some of the most interesting plot points impacting gameplay directly. The MotorStorm Festival group has been searching for a new venue, and has taken-up root in a recently evacuated metropolitan city destroyed by a massive earthquake. Unknown to them at the time, they have actually set foot in the middle of a turf-war between a group of rioters ravaging what’s left of the city, and a private military organization tasked with protecting the government’s assets. The races themselves will take place amongst the havoc between the two factions, and will provide players with a ridiculous amount of obstacles to avoid.
The rioters can directly interfere with an ongoing race by causing various forms of destruction and mayhem. Stealing cars and slamming racers off the road, causing riots in the middle of the street, and shooting players with firearms are just a few things we witnessed during our demo presentation. The private military organization can also have a severe impact, with an attack helicopter firing missiles at the track. These missiles can hit racers directly, but can also cause avalanches, collapse entire buildings, and can bring about massive fires and explosions.
Another main obstacle in gameplay is also based around the constant earthquakes that plague The City. With aftershocks happening in real-time, players will be forced to make quick decisions at almost every turn. The terrain almost never stays the same, and laps will play out differently each time due to the tremors. They cause buildings to topple over in roadways, force bridges to twist and buckle, and even provoke the landscape to drop out from beneath you entirely. Not only is the hazard list lengthy, the assortment of transportation in the game is literally one for the books.
Fans of the series may already be familiar with the fact that MotorStorm holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest variety of vehicles in a racing game. Well, their record only continues to strengthen with the newest installment. The game now has a total of thirteen vehicle classes to choose from, . with brand new gems including supercars, superbikes, muscle cars, hot hatches, and choppers. Not only that, but your chosen mode of conveyance will now be customizable in three separate categories, in addition to creating custom looks for your ride.
Evolution Studios has claimed inspiration from a variety of shooters and action games during development. This is all made blatantly clear with the addition of their new perk system. This new system allows players to earn experience during online multiplayer matches (think Modern Warfare), in order to upgrade their vehicles in handling, boosting, or combat. The multiplayer modes will again include four-player split-screen, as well as sixteen-player online multiplayer and will even support a combination of the two. So if you’ve got four friends to play with at home, you can all cause one hell of a ruckus against twelve other players online. They even hinted at some sort of “gambling” system to place bets on the outcome of races. What that exactly means for multiplayer, we’re not too clear on just yet.
If, for some reason, you’ve ever thought the MotorStorm series has never had enough game modes, then you’re in for a treat. Right out of the box, you’ll be able to use their new custom Game Mode Creator. This new tool uses a simple rule-based system to create different action and reaction elements to completely customize game types. From what they were telling us during the demo, it sounds like the potential is almost limitless. With literally thousands of game mode possibilities at your fingertips, and an online sharing component in place (which fully supports matchmaking), the MotorStorm community will have the time of their lives.
As if there wasn’t already enough information spewed forth at this demo presentation, they’ve also revealed the game will feature full stereoscopic 3D TV support. For fans of the racing genre, this is easily looking like a must own title. The plethora of custom game modes that will be available after launch is just one of the many reasons why you’ll be playing this game for months to come. Even if you’re only slightly into racing games, you may want to keep this one on your watch-list. During the release window of Q1 2011, you may be in for quite a pleasant surprise.