Online is likely to be the only key change to MotorStorm prior to its European and American launches this year, although developer Evolution has said it may introduce new features via download.
"There will be enhancements, but many will be under the hood," product manager Matt Southern told Edge Online. "A lot of the changes for the US and Europe are legal or even cultural - things like the gestures are specific to each territory and their respective age rating guidelines." (In the Japanese version, released in December, the AI racers often wave 'colourfully' when you piss them off.)
Southern says that the main change, as previously stated, will be the addition of online - something the Japanese didn't miss especially. "It's a cultural thing, really, which we had to learn from Yasu-san [Japanese external producer Yasuhiro Iizuka]. The Japanese are used to new iterations of a game at a later stage, and are also less bothered by online multiplayer. The scores seem to have justified our decision."
And we can expect that multiplayer element to offer voice comms, incidentally, "either using USB headsets or Bluetooth wireless sets. "Currently we have 12-player; recently we had 15 but we've had to cull this. We're still hoping for 16 but we can’t commit to that right now," Southern added.
Some of the surprise at the Japanese release's slightness stemmed from the absence not only of online features, but also additional gameplay modes and even split-screen. What's more, split-screen won't be added to the Western release, although Southern's keen not to rule out the possibility further down the road - "the beauty of online consoles," he notes, "is that the game can change in the future and we can sit down with SCEE and say, 'Let's offer this for download - the fans want it'."
Ditto the idea of recording replays. "Not for the boxed launch," Southern says when asked about it, "but as ever we'll see what is being demanded by fans when we start to offer download packs. Remember, we were up against it with MotorStorm, even with the timescale we had. The ability to pause and rotate the camera was added really late - it was classic feature creep."
Although it did work out quite well, as you'll know if you read our Japanese import review. Watch out for a full European report on the game nearer release - whenever that ends up being. PlayStation 3 is still down for release in March, with MotorStorm among the first Western releases.