MotorStorm was a launch title for the PS3 and was followed up by its sequel MotorStorm: Pacific Rim.
Both were very similar games which looked fantastic and provided terrific arcade offroad racing action. For the first time the series takes a hiatus from the PS3 and makes an appearance on Sony’s PSP and PS2 consoles. It also takes a hiatus from Evolution Studios and sees BigBig Studios take the reins (and co-developed with Virtuos for the PS2 version – not being reviewed here).
Thankfully the series doesn’t suffer in the slightest from the change of developer or change of console. Despite the understandable graphical compromises, Arctic Edge is still the same high speed, turbo boosting, mud plugging racer we have become accustomed to.
While there are still dirt, desert and mud tracks available, the theme this time around – as if you hadn’t guessed from the title – is snow and ice. This opens up the door for a whole new set of handling dynamics, environmental characteristics, vehicles and pitfalls.
In typical MotorStorm fashion, the single player festival mode – called “Wreckreation” has you advancing through the ranks all the while unlocking new events, tracks and vehicles. There’s ten different race types all up, one of the most fun being the checkpoint race, which, in old school arcade style has you racing from checkpoint to checkpoint against the clock, earning valuable seconds with each checkpoint you make - run out of time and you explode.
The secret to succeeding in MotorStorm is finding alternate routes to take –and there are plenty of them. Whether the route is quicker all depends on what vehicle you’ve chosen to drive. Big heavy cumbersome vehicles are best suited to the main drags where they can power through the mud or snow and the lighter rides can easily divert down narrow shortcuts. The snow and ice allows for new classes of vehicle to be introduced, the mudpluggers have been replaced with snowpluggers and the giant Snowcat replaces the Big Rigs on the snow levels. There’s also Snow Machines which are compact and fast but take some getting used to because of their slippery handling.
The controls are well mapped to the PSP with accelerate and brake on the right and left shoulder buttons respectively. X is boost, and the other face buttons deal with the left and right side-swipe at passing vehicles. Steering can be performed with either the analogue stick or directional buttons. Because braking slows you down too much, I find that most tracks can be successfully negotiated with acceleration and feathering of the boost feature.
The first tier of races are stupidly easy, which is a common tactic to get you into the game and build your confidence up, but the difficulty quickly ramps up and you’ll need to start really searching for those alternate routes and looking to take out the opposition when you get the opportunity.
As solid as the single player game is, multiplayer is where previous MotorStorms really came into their own. Arctic Edge has both Adhock and Infrastructure modes for up to six players. Not being able to investigate the Adhoc feature I headed online to see how well the game performed. Unfortunately, on no less than six separate occasions I haven’t been able to find anyone online! I searched and re-searched, I created my own races and sat there waiting for players to join, to no avail.
Whether you would have better luck than I did is anyone’s guess, but if you have a few mates with PSP’s living locally then you might want to convince them to buy Arctic Edge too if your desperate for some multiplayer action.
As for the soundtrack to the action itself, there’s some excellent music to be had here. The Chemical Brothers, Motorhead and Prodigy all make an appearance and in general they all compliment the game perfectly.
Ultimately, the MotorStorm hasn’t suffered a bit from the switch to the portable format, in fact it seems to suit it quite nicely. There’s plenty of race modes to keep solo players happy for hours on end, but the online multiplayer is obviously a hit and miss affair.