MotorStorm was the frontrunner for Sony’s PlayStation 3 bandwagon. Alongside Resistance Fall Of Man, MotorStorm was the offering with which to promote the power of the new system. Hammering home the message that the PlayStation 3 is the world’s fastest, most powerful console of the era. Developed by Evolution Studios, the title picked-up further intrigue with every outing. And now, 15 years after it debuted in Europe, it still proves to be a compelling experience.
The game itself is a confusion of racing genre convention that truly does mark the arrival of a bold, original idea. Players take to dirt tracks in one of a variety of vehicles types, ranging from bikes to trucks. You’re presented with a dozen opportunities for out-smarting opponents via the use of alternate routes, vehicle weight, jumps and boosting.
To begin with, the title provides a considerable challenge. Each vehicle type handles distinctively, and so each will take a significant amount of time to adapt to. Lighter vehicles are recommended to take higher routes, avoiding the deformable sludge below. Whereas heavier vehicles will maintain their grip on the freshly-carved mud. As one of the title’s unique selling points – and one which has been pushed-to-the-nines – the deformable terrain does work as promised; adding great effect to the level of detail presented in the title.
Once a basic-feel for the play has been established, including discerning use of the available boost, the title flows more purposefully. As with its’ intent it draws close comparisons to previous PlayStation launch endeavours, namely the WipEout franchise. Sony has always relied heavily on third-parties to bulk-out their launch day offerings. Virtua Fighter 5, Full Auto 2: Battlelines and Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight piloted the PlayStation 3 exclusivity scene, but the initial-spin has always been generated by a specific title. Contrary to popular belief this mantle didn’t fall to Resistance: Fall Of Man. It felt at home with MotorStorm. A visceral scene of petrol, mud and carnage create a beautiful collaboration of new console power and forward-thinking gameplay. Very unlike anything we’ve yet seen on the PlayStation 5.
However, there are limitations. The single-player campaign is the only option for solo play. Whilst it’s by no means short, there is relatively little intrigue after completion. Criticism weighed-heavy on MotorStorm’s back after having launched in Japan with no multiplayer offering to speak of, and no online functionality. Time transpired that allowed the studio to incorporate these features for the title’s European launch. However, due to this restriction, it often feels as though any multiplayer presentations – both offline and online – feel tacked-on. Lacking any coherency with the genetic make-up of a title so desperate to be noticed not for it’s ingenuity, but for it’s courage.
MotorStorm feels at home on the PlayStation 3, and carved quite a niche for itself. Not only did it truly represent the coming of a new generation of home consoles – something which any title representing the Xbox 360 at launch failed to accomplish – but it also pushed the graphical attributes of each competing system in this generation into totally separate distinctions. While MotorStorm was given a significant nod as to rivalling the Xbox 360’s best throughout development, at launch, the clarity of the visuals, the detail and the distance drawn was simply mind-blowing; even after having experienced the best the Xbox 360 had to offer. While there’s no question the Xbox 360 was able to push these qualities and similarly astound in-time, it had already begun to fall behind.
The title’s Soundtrack also excels. While many of the available tracks won’t be to everyone’s tastes, they do suit the progression of play rather well. Distinctive offerings from Sony’s back-catalogue include Nirvana, Queens Of The Stone Age, Slipknot, Primal Scream and Kings Of Leon; all in-line with the scraping and squelching of metal-on-metal, and rubber-on-mud.
MotorStorm appears as a finely-tuned, PlayStation-borne machine. Adept to attracting attention from its first wheel-spin to the crossing of its Finishing Line. Errors and glitches are frequent, yet forgivable, and the lack of speed in comparison to Wii’s ExciteTruck soon becomes forgettable. Accomplishing all of its’ primary objectives whilst carving its name in silky-smooth, thick, brown sludge, MotorStorm had pure balls, and enough brain just to carry out its mission. Resourceful, imaginative, innovative and entertaining till the last, even with 15 years under it’s belt.