What do you think when I say “Modern racer” ? Big bulky cars, racing around as realistic as possible. Handling like forks attached to pieces of rotating string by glue? I’ll spare you the details but my perception of a racer is not a realistic driving experience, it’s not Gran Turismo or Forza 3… it’s Motorstorm. Yep I said that. A ye olde launch title for the PS3 just so happens to hold a place in my heart, and now today I wish to share my love with you. On both Pacific Rift and Motorstorm One. There’s obviously going to be some comparison here but I want you to just take a sip of the true Motorstorm formula.
I didn’t follow the first of the series as closely as you might think, I saw it as a nice extra I would receive along with my PS3 and Resistance Fall of Man. (Which, coincidentally, was the last ‘Double-Whammy’.). Little did I know I’d be transported into funtown, in full muddy bloody great big 720p graphics. This was the game that showed off the PS3’s tech, long before Uncharted Drakes Fortune and long long before any graphical overlord you can think of today. Back in 2007, this was Crysis, except at two-hundred miles an hour and set in Monument Valley, a real life canyon of muddy great dirt tracks and steep cliffs.
The second Motorstorm, Pacific Rift, is set on a tropical island in the middle of nowhere and swaps the first game’s bog snorkeling for a round the clock juggle with elemental themed race tracks. You can dance in the light of lava, travel to the heart of the jungle and even defeat King Kong and a Tyrannosaurus Rex… well that last bit was my imagination but the tracks are definitely a lot more varied this time around. They added a lot of new gameplay elements into the mix too, water was one of the new features. It could cool your boosties down (will explain later) although could slow you down if the liquid was too deep.
Motorstorm’s formula just breathes with excitement and fun. It’s your standard racing game mixed with epic environments and vehicle classes. There’s trucks, cars, rally cars, bikes and all sorts of goodies to get your hands on. In Pacific Rift, there’s the added Monster Truck which might as well be an instant ‘make everyone else into a pancake vehicle. There are multiple routes on each track for each vehicle class. Trucks and big rigs should stay low whereas bikes and ATVs should stay up top. It’s all about height and size, it’s always thrilling just making the right turn as a bike, high above the cliffs, and landing ahead of a big rig down below.
Alongside these balls bearing vehicle classes is the element of surprise. Actually, more like excitement, there’s nothing like doing this just at the right moment. Some sort of odd chemical drifts down into your heart and sparks a chain reaction of pure adrenalin, pure gaming adrenalin. The heart of gaming, just stupid silly fun. That feeling when you get a four hit collateral on Call of Duty, when you dash across a ravine in Uncharted or when you battle a giant colossi in Shadow of the Colossus. Those moments become a core gameplay element of this game, and may I dare be so vulgar, it’s orgasmic.
So what is this thing that sets off the chain reaction that leads to an adrenalin orgasm? It’s a little thing called Boost. You old down X to release this gas out of the back of your vehicle, it lights your rear and sends you flying past your enemies. Using it at just the right moment, to mow down positions and gain ultimate speed, it adds to the whole hype. The hype of reaching the top of the boost meter, because if you old this magical button too long. You will explode. Your crashing metal corpse will fly flimsily in the air as your driver rag doll plummets to the ground. It’s almost ye olde ‘Burnout’, Crash Mode to be exact.
It’s a weird sense, just seeing your driver fall down and down and hit his head on a rock. It’s an even odder sense that in the first game, you couldn’t skip this whole little physics show and tell. You could just take a sip of your coffee, or tea, maybe even tie your shoelaces depending on how long the physics show lasted. It’s a problem that was resolved in Pacific Rift but pains me to this day, to have to search for something to keep my mind from drifting away from the action. You’ll crash a lot in the game, it’s natural, and it stops the pure naked animal adrenalin boosties you’re used to.
So it’s a bit like an old car, the first Motorstorm, it just keeps going and going and just stops every so often. It serves it’s purpose well and can be more fun than some top models sometimes… so if that’s Motorstorm One then surely Pacific Rift must be a Airplane compared to the first. Well, there’s more than just a change of scenery this time around, there’s more tracks, more cars, more features, more everything. It seems they just about did the whole idea of a sequel, improving upon the original in as many aspects a possible, but they missed something out.
There’s a little niggle in the back of your head, which urges you to turn to Motorstorm one and think “That was a lot more funner.”, don’t get me wrong Pacific Rift is a lot better than number one in almost every way. Except that is, on that simple raw orgasmic feel that it gives you. It’s a rush that no other game gives you, and it seems to have been slightly tarnished in the way of Pacific Rift’s new meaning of simplicity. The mechanic works well in Motorstorm one because of simplicity, a linear way through muddy huge canyons. Not exactly the prettiest sight nowadays, but it still works well. In Pacific Rift however, you have to constantly juggle the elements and it can be hard to just let that adrenalin sense into your blood.
I may sound a bit nutty in this whole article, and I haven’t exactly made the comparison I’d liked to have made. I could go into detail about Motorstorm’s soundtracks, both of which have just one or two good songs and the rest are awful. I could go into detail about the graphics, the presentation, everything. But I would have to dedicate an entire series to that. This racing series has remained my favorite racer of all time, it’s a testament to pure gaming fun and has a feel like no other racer. Others just see it as another muddy drive, I see it as a trip back to our own roots… and now I’m going to go check into a mental hospital.