Support Andy, click to buy via us...
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is the follow-up to the original game, hastily released with the launch of the PS3. Four player local multiplayer, new environments and vehicles aim to bolster the experience that some found a little light on variety and challenge first time around.
Racing games, although sometimes seen as a sporting sub category, are a well established video game genre in their own right. They can feature a variety of driving styles ranging from the fantastical arcade racing focusing on thrills and spills, to the super realistic simulations that recreate every aspect of real life driving.
Although very much racing of the four wheeled variety, Motorstorm is unique in that the driver is required to glide, slide and surf their way around the varied levels. This is no surprise as the team were previously responsible for the critically acclaimed snow boarding game SSX.
New since the first game is the ability to race locally against up to four friends, as well as the extension of the challenge, festival and online modes. On top of this there are also new terrain effects (themed around the water, earth, fire and air courses) - with water splashes impressing most.
Again with a nod to snow boarding, the environments visibly and physically change as the competitors complete each lap. Grooves and mud patches develop in low lying land, forcing lighter vehicles up onto ridges and higher routes.
It is this changing course, and the variety of routes available that make understanding how to handle the different vehicles key to success. Over eight types can be driven, from motorbikes, sand buggies, jeeps, track cars, pick-ups, big rigs and the new monster trucks. Each vehicle handles differently and demands its own particular route round each course, something that gives the game legs as you revisit old courses in different vehicles with often surprising results.
The thrill of heading off into the wilderness with a pack of cars, trucks and motorbikes is something that drew players to the original, and will bring them back to this sequel. No game better creates that Paris-Dakar man and machine against the elements feel than Motorstorm.
The original was famed for placing its courses on perilous cliff edges that would send players into the abyss with even the slightest error. To race in Pacific Rift is to experience this knife edge experience drawn out through a varied island settings. Breath taking drops, misty mountain heights, wetland beachy tracks and jungle tundra stick to Motorstorm's formula while adding some much needed variety to the experience.
Motorstorm races are adrenalin filled sprints to the finish and as such don't usually take much over five minutes. The nature of the game and the desire of the player to improve their time (or podium standing) means that sessions often last a long time.
This is real just-on-more-go territory, and those that have the time to dedicate to the game are rewarded with new courses and vehicles.
Very young players will struggle with the precise left/right controls required to get around the track. This is a lot less forgiving than the likes of Sega Rally 360.
Those a little older and intermediate gamers will be both exhilarated and engaged by the experience. A few goes should be enough to connect with the basic premise that the right route through the terrain is key.
Experts will rise to the challenge (both locally and online) of perfecting their abilities with the various vehicles. Each course should warrant multiple plays as they hone their times and identify short cuts and perfect cornering.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: