MotorStorm: Apocalypse is the fourth game in the MotorStorm franchise, and it opts for a change in scenery by moving away from the natural environment settings of previous titles and is now set in a fictional city; which has many striking similarities to San Francisco (check out the bridge), and is in the midst of being ravaged by natural disasters, mainly earthquakes. The game’s tone is a lot darker and grittier than the past titles, due to the setting of the game, but it still features the trademark wild and chaotic races that MotorStorm is known for.
Thanks to clever track designs, the races in MotorStorm: Apocalypse are incredibly fun. The game does well to utilise the earthquakes and other natural disasters, like a menacing looking twister, to create a track that changes during the course of a race. Buildings will collapse right in front of your eyes; the ground will rise or disappear from under you, and create either a whole new path or an instant road block that will severely disrupt your race. Races include a constant barrage of flying debris, ranging from pieces of paper to massive construction material that can either be of help or a major distraction to you. And to add more chaos, the game includes locals who have refused to evacuate the city, as well as a private security firm called “Dusklite” who have been given the job of keeping order.
The locals and the security team are constantly fighting, and sometimes will attack you by either throwing objects at you or, in the case of the security team, shoot at you from a helicopter. All of this makes for some intensely crazy and gnarly races that proved to be incredibly fun to be a part of. I did find that the game tended to be very harsh and unforgiving when it came to crashes, as sometimes the slightest bump against the wall would result in the car crumpling into a fiery heap.
As MotorStorm games are off-road racing games, flares and signs are used to help the player keep on the track. These are vital and useful but I still found it hard to recognise the track when racing, especially in areas where the majority of the track was of a similar colour or had an abundance of small debris. It was especially frustrating on one of the tracks set on top of high-rise buildings, where failure to recognise the driveable areas resulted in me constantly falling off the edge of buildings.
The game does include some wicked tracks though, and different areas of the city, like the boardwalk (think Jersey Shore), downtown and skyline are represented. Each track has multiple routes, and finding the right path for your vehicle can give you an edge over the opposition. The tracks in the Skyline area can become frustrating at times, but was the most visually gratifying, and boasted intense and clever track designs. The track lets you drive at high speed atop high rise buildings as well as driving through them. The beauty of this game, and a feature I love about arcade racing games, is that even from near impossible situations, it was possible to pull off an unlikely victory.
The key to winning is the use of the boost. Boost can now be used to ram opponents, as well as a speed burst. Ramming opponents was a great way to take out the opposition, and it was thoroughly enjoyable taking out players on motorbikes and ATVs while driving a huge Monster Truck. For those who’ve played previous MotorStorm games, you’ll know that the game features clever ways of cooling down the car when it is overheats due to overuse of the boost. This time around players can use the air flow from jumps to help reduce the heat, which is a clever idea, as there’s now a reward for aiming and driving over jump ramps.
Festival is the main single-player mode in MotorStorm: Apocalypse, and features an actual storyline. You play through the events of the MotorStorm Festival from the perspective of three playable characters – Mash “The Rookie”, Tyler “The Veteran” and Big Dog “The Pro”, with each character representing a difficulty level. You begin with the Rookie’s story, which is the easiest then move onto the next story/level, and so on.
Simple 2D comic-book style cut scenes or “Motion Comics” are used to tell the story. The races are visually impressive, and that is why it was disappointing that the animation in the cut-scenes were very basic and weren’t very impressive. The Motion Comics really didn’t gel with the look of the game. Another disappointment was the lack of depth and plot to the storyline. The cut-scenes depicting narrative felt more like an intermission between the races.
Hardcore versions of the Festival races can be unlocked by finishing first in the Festival races; these races are more intense and harder than the ones in the regular Festival mode. It’s a nice addition for those who wish for more of a challenge. This race type was one of several in the Wreckreation mode. Here you can partake in casual races by yourself, against friends (the game supports four-player split-screen races) or challenge yourself against online opponents. In these races you get to choose the vehicle you wish to race in, which isn’t an available option in Festival mode. MotorStorm: Apocalypse includes all the classic vehicles from past games, as well as several new types such as the Supercar and the Musclecar.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse, like many newly released games on the PlayStation3 supports 3D. Personally, I found this game looked great in 3D, and was one of the few games on the market that utilised the 3D features well.
MotorStorm: Apocalypse is a game that plays and looks great, it ticks all the boxes that a MotorStorm game should, but unfortunately the storyline featured in the Festival mode is really weak. However, the most important area of the game – racing - is wild, chaotic and most importantly fun to play.