Thursday, August 27, 2009

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (PS3) Review

Welcome to Thursday night and a brand-new Playstation 3 review! This time around we're focusing on Motorstorm: Pacific Rift. As with most review with photos of mine, I'll be showing the rest tomorrow. Let's start this review off with a Billy Joel song reference.

They just might be the lunatics you're looking for.
All screenshots by SuperPhillip.

It's summertime, a time to sit back, relax, and act lazy. But why would you want to do that when you could be a lunatic instead? Hop aboard a plane to a mountainous tropical island, and race with other lunatics on rims of volcanoes, in lush jungles, and verdant plains. You can do just that with Motorstorm: Pacific Rift, the sequel to a game that received mixed reviews, the original Motorstorm. Does Pacific Rift offer a decent vacation package?

The single-player in Pacific Rift is called the Festival. Progression is done through earning ranks. Depending on how well you do at a given event, you are awarded a medal-- either bronze, silver, or gold. You earn points depending on what medal you were given. 100 for gold, 75 for silver, and 50 for bronze. Earn enough points, and you will unlock the next rank which features more difficult challenges than the last. There are eight ranks in all, and the highest rank is near-impossible with its difficulty. Most events are simply two lap races with fifteen other vehicles. These sometimes limit what vehicle you can use, but other than that they're your typical races. However, there are two different types of challenges to keep things fresh. These are Speed and Eliminator. Speed has you driving through as a set amount of checkpoints around the track before time runs out, and Eliminator counts down from fifteen seconds, and whoever is in last place when the clock hits zero, that player is eliminated. The aim is to eventually be the last lunatic standing. These special challenges have to be unlocked usually by wrecking as few times as possible or by completing a race in a set time.

Gentlemen, start your engines!

There are four distinct zones on the island you lunatics race on. There's fire, air, earth, and water. Fire tracks are home to lava, magma, and rugged volcano terrain. Air features courses based on high mountain cliffs where driving off spells certain doom. Earth tracks are usually very bumpy rides with mud and sludge to slip up unwary racers. Finally, water tracks obviously have a lot of water, rivers, and ponds on them. They're usually tropical in design. Each island zone has four unique races to them adding up to an impressive sixteen tracks in all. The tracks are littered with shortcuts, filled to the brim with multiple paths, and full of peril. Learning tracks is a challenge with all of the possible paths. Some tracks are very difficult only because it's hard to see what's ahead or the correct way to drive. It gets annoying wiping out by smacking into a small rock only because you couldn't see it. As for the sixteen tracks, they range from rides along a volcano's residence, through a former sugar plantation, along a cliff-side view of the island, and many more. Each track takes at least a minute to complete a lap offering for some hectic laps and close finishes.

The locales are lush and vibrant at this beach.

Some days you don't feel like riding a buggy. Then why not drive a big rig instead? There are eight different vehicle types in Pacific Rift. Each has their own pros and cons. Bikes are fast and corner well, but it's easy for the rider to get jostled off in a hurry. Buggies are great for uneven terrain, but they handle horribly when mud is involved. Go SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY with the monster truck. It's a force to be reckoned with, but it tips over rather easily. Each vehicle on each track has an optimal line, and it's up to you to find the one best suited for your vehicle. Each vehicle also handles differently as they should, so it's important to get a feel for each ride you hop on or into.

Speaking of handling, Motorstorm: Pacific Rift handles quite well. You use the left and right shoulder buttons as the handbrake and accelerator respectively. The game features a boost mechanic similar to a game like Excite Truck where if you hold the boost too long your vehicle with overheat-- or in Pacific Rift's case, explode. Racing through water will cool your car, truck, or bike down to prevent such a disaster. Of course, other disasters like crashing will most likely happen a lot as you get a hold of the controls. There's no penalty for crashing other than losing time and a place or three. If you get turned around, you can always press the select button to reorient yourself in the right direction.

No matter the time, it's always racing time.

The action during races gets hot and heavy. Opponents get more and more aggressive as the rank of your races increases. They'll try to ram you into walls and other obstacles. The AI is pretty crafty, but of course, you can be crafty, too. You can ram your vehicle into opponents, or if you're riding a bike or ATV, punch other drives off their rides. You don't have to be sorry-- you're a lunatic!

Lay the smack-down while you admire the scenery.

Multiplayer is all the rage these days, and Motorstorm: Pacific Rift doesn't disappoint with its brand of "wreckreation". You can play local split-screen with up to four players, or you can hop online play. Ranked matches put you against opponents of your own skill level, and it does an adequate job at that. You can also create your own custom races with friends and foes far away. Online is silky smooth with an occasional hiccup when things get crazy. Other than that, it's quite good. Online leaderboards compare and display your best times with others in either ranked or time attack modes.

Pacific Rift is a gorgeous game. Everything from the vibrant visuals to the silky smooth framerate creates an unforgettable package. It's so good, the developers left a photo capture tool for players to share their shots with others. If you don't like the game's soundtrack of rap and rock, you can utilize a custom playlist featuring your own music while you race. Just be sure to turn down the sound effects or you won't be able to hear it!

Pacific Rift truly is a marvel to look at.

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is a fantastic arcade racer for any Playstation 3 owner. It's packed with a lot more content, tracks, and settings than its predecessor, and it's just a more complete package and a more enjoyable experience. Despite a high difficulty and track problems, Evolution Studios has down a terrific job fixing what was wrong with the original and making a sequel that is one of the best racers any console has to offer.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.75/10]

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