MotorStorm: Apocalypse • Page 2

Richter grin.

It's hardly sophisticated storytelling, but from the prologue (Medal of Honor beach landing) to the epilogue (fleeing the final catastrophe on a bucking and twisting suspension bridge, Halo-style) it certainly takes you on a journey. Writing about F1 2010 last year, I remarked that "racing games are universally terrible at context"; chalk Apocalypse up as another step forward for the genre in this area.

Each race is a unique event and track, with your vehicle decided for you and a condition for moving on to the next. That's it. There are a few Eliminator and Chase variants thrown in but for the most part, it's straight racing on circuits. Many of these change dynamically through the race as quakes, explosions and collapsing buildings close and open the MotorStorm series' trademark multiple routes while serving up gob-smacking spectacle and physics chaos that eclipse even Split/Second's explosive gambits.

It's so eventful and free of repetition that the strict linearity of the Festival isn't at all unwelcome (except when you hit one of the rare but enraging difficulty spikes). It also helps that the no less than 13 vehicle classes – bikes, cars, buggies and trucks of every stripe – have all been created equal. Their strengths and weaknesses are finely balanced and they're all astonishingly quick from the off, with no grinding through slow models to get to the good hardware.

The handling is grippy, bouncy and a little unsophisticated – but MotorStorm never was about precise cornering or artful drifting. Its concerns are route and surface choice, physical jostling (you can barge to the sides), jumping and boost management. Boosting heats your engine to the point of explosion (as does driving through fire), but water butts and pools and even rain can cool it quicker.

When all hell breaks loose there is a little slowdown, but it's very well handled and almost seems deliberate.

Apocalypse ties boosting and jumping together with a new mechanic whereby you can cool your engine quickly by lifting off the throttle while catching air. This small but utterly inspired tweak turns the game into an intoxicating spiritual successor to Excitebike (or, um, Tiny Wings) as you seek to maximise speed by boosting from one ramp to the next in a series of graceful, weightless, rhythmic leaps, cornering in thee dimensions.

Given Apocalypse's reliance on show-stopping shock and awe, its relatively untechnical track design and handling, and the often capricious, crash-prone races, it would be easy to assume that Evolution's latest was playing in the shallow end. But the proof of any racing game's worth is in time trial, and Apocalypse is completely engrossing in this mode. Optimising a route for each vehicle class on each track is a game in itself, involving puzzle-solving as well as skill.

The superb Time Trial also shows how hard Evolution has worked on the online, open-ended half of its game, known as Weckreation. You can download up to three ghosts and race against no less than six; so you could, for example, test yourself against the world best time for that track, the best in your vehicle class, a friend, and your own times in your current class and two others.

Will you support Eurogamer?

We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.

Read the reviews policy

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

Jump to comments (76)

About the author

Oli Welsh

Oli Welsh

Contributor  |  oliwelsh

Oli was Eurogamer's MMO Editor before a seven-year stint as Editor. He worked here for a colossal 14 years, shaping the website and leading it.


You may also enjoy...

Supporters only

Comments (76)

Comments for this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

Hide low-scoring comments

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer Merch
Explore our store