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It’s doomsday, so race away

This PS3 racing game, set in a post-apocalyptic world, excites and frustrates in equal measures.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2011 16:31 IST
Avinash Bali

Our first few hours with MotorStorm Apocalypse (MA) were full of bliss. As a racer voluntarily taking part in a post-apocalyptic racing festival, MA will push your driver to the limits, challenging him with aggressive racers and the forces of nature. The game’s biggest hook is its apocalyptic setting that not only looks cool but factors into gameplay as well. Since you are racing in a city ravaged by earthquakes, cyclones and tornadoes, the forces of nature can kick in anytime and change the rules of the game.

Transient tracks
Buildings will fall around you, opening up new routes or doubling up as gigantic ramps, while a nearby cyclone can fling vehicles all around the track creating a new shortcut that didn’t exist in the previous lap. You can’t comprehend the chaos unless you play it yourself. In addition to this, you even have a very unruly bunch of civilians to deal with who’ll constantly litter the tracks, throw Molotov cocktails at you or even try and shoot you down. While you can run over most of them, you must make sure your car does not soak up too up damage for that could cause it to overheat. And like previous Motorstorm games, overheating your vehicle will cause it to explode.

Increasing difficulty
You can spawn back into the race with the press of a button but you’ll lose precious seconds and on higher difficulties, this becomes a real pain in the backside. Speaking of pains in the backside, special mention goes out to MA’s crushing difficulty that kicks in after a few hours of gameplay. The career is split up into three sections — Rookie, Pro and Veteran. Gamers who even have a bit of racing experience will cruise through Rookie but as soon as you enter Pro territory, the difficulty increases significantly. Where you were once cruising to the finish line in first position, you’ll find it tough to even come in third. You’ll lose races many times because even a single screw up could lead to defeat.

RacingAggressive racers

Making matters worse are the aggressive AI players who are hell bent on annihilating your ride. This wouldn’t have been much of a problem if we could choose our weapon of choice, but for some reason, the game takes it upon itself to choose your ride. Why hand us a dirt bike when we’re racing against trucks? This is probably the game’s way of challenging us, but when you consider the fact that you’re up against hostile civilians, natural disasters and hyper aggressive AI in every race, the lack of choice is bothersome.

MA keeps up the frantic pace in its online mode where up to 16 players can bang it out for online supremacy. Like most competitive games on the block today, you compete in a bunch of races and winning them allows you to soup-up your ride and racer. You even have a bunch of preset perks to choose from which could make your car handle better, boost more or cool down faster. There’s a betting system too where you can earn some cash by betting on the best players. This allows newbies to rake in dough even if they aren’t playing well. The insane destruction from the single player campaign makes its way into multiplayer as well but unless you’re somewhere close to the first racer, you won’t witness it.

Visually, the game does not disappoint. There are a few low-res textures, but these pale in comparison to the grand scheme of things, like witnessing a cyclone throwing up shipwrecks across the same track you’re on. The cut scenes depicting the rather cheesy story are highly annoying and, thankfully, can be skipped. We did encounter a few slowdowns but overall, the frame rates held up just fine even during some of the more chaotic races.

MotorStorm Apocalypse is one of the most exciting racers we’ve played. Sadly it’s burdened by erratic difficulty, stupid gameplay mechanics and highly aggressive AI. This, more often than not, converts an otherwise intense and nerve-wracking experience into something a lot more frustrating. If you can somehow look past that, then this is an apocalypse worth experiencing.

Rating ***1/2

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