2008 was a great year for arcade racers. I bought Burnout and Midnight Club and Wipeout HD and they are all excellent. Pure and GRID which were good as well. But easily, the most fun I’ve ever had with a racer ever, is Motorstorm Pacfic Rift.
- Not Open World: I admire the open world design ambition in Burnout and Midnight Club. They tech is very impressive and both games look absolutely gorgeous, but it doesn’t fit arcade racers. First, there’s a lot of between race navigating that is a chore to do. Secondly, the races tend to feel more samey. Tracks that are designed to be racing tracks from the ground up just work better than using different slices from a larger open world.
- Vehicle Classes: The different classes of vehicles give the racing a completely different feel. It’s fun to try a nimble buggy or ATV in one race and switch to a giant semi-truck to plow through opponents and obstacles in another race.
- Great Core Racing: The jumps, bumps, bounces, skids, and crashes all feel perfect. The racing conveys the sense of speed, the sense of your vehicles weight, and the feel of the racing surface (rock and packed dirt, grassy and soft, muddy, or wet).
- Spectacular outdoor tracks and art direction: The pics say it all. I captured all the pics in this post using the in-game screenshot feature. More are available in this photo gallery
Compared to Motorstorm 1
To be blunt, when Motorstorm 1 came out, it had great attitude and racing physics, but it seemed like an overhyped tech demo. This game is exactly the same general game, but at the same time it’s far more polished in every way. It has the same overall formula, the same core graphics engine, physics, style of racing, vehicle classes (one addition), music genre and attitude are all the same from the first title. But it’s a much better game. Here are some highlights:
- Effects: The first game had cool dirt/mud effects, but that was mostly it. This game has awesome lava, smoke, flaming engines (when your car gets hot), fire trails, air flow effects, cloud cover at high altitudes, plus gorgeous racing streams and water effects.
- Populated Tracks: The first game had some cool tracks, but they were sparsely populated dirt, rock, and mud. The tracks this time around have much more stuff in them; they have more complex environments, more hazards, more buildings, more branching paths, and more secret tunnels.
- Sense of Speed: The first game often felt like you were racing in slow motion. I’m not sure what specifically is different, but Pacific Rift delivers a very satisfying sense of speed.
- Road Rash style Punches: From the bikes and ATVs…
- Great Trophy System: I’m not a big trophy fan, but when they are so well done like this, they really make the game more fun.
- Custom soundtracks: This is almost a hidden feature as it’s mostly unlabeled. Switch to XMB during the game, play your own music using normal XMB music controls, and the game will use that as the background race music.
- Photo mode: Tons of fun. Pause the game at any time during a single-player race or during a crash, position the camera, snap photos, export to the PS3 OS, and optionally copy to a flash drive or card.
- Split-screen Multiplayer: If you have a group of people over, local multiplayer options are a must for a video game.
- Simple core game: The racing is great, but the whole game is basically about racing as fast as you can around a track.
- Sixteen Tracks: The game has sixteen high quality tracks, which is much better than the eight that shipped with the first game. But I still would have liked to see more.
- Difficulty: The main single-player mode starts out easy and gradually gets harder and harder. Eventually, the new races are just so hard that it isn’t fun any more. I got over ten hours of single-player game time in, and I can always play old races or play free play or online, but I’d still prefer a campaign mode that provides a sense of progression and lets me keep playing at a more comfortable difficulty level.
Written by: Darrin
- Contributing Editor