MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is the third title in the highly successful MotorStorm franchise. The game moves on from the desert tracks of the original MotorStorm, and the lush green environment of its sequel, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, and as the name suggests, is set in the snow or, more precisely, the frozen mountains of the Arctic.
While the first two titles were released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 console, the series shifts gears with the latest incarnation making its PSP debut, complete with a new developer in Bigbig Studios.
It wouldn't be a MotorStorm game without some gnarly tracks, and Arctic Edge doesn't disappoint. There are a total of 12 tracks, with each being able to be raced in reverse. The tracks all have interesting names such as Anguta Glacier, Widow Maker, the Chasm and Vertigo. The setting may be in the Arctic mountains, but there are still the good ol' dirt and mud tracks, as well as the snow covered ones. The tracks look fantastic, and the specks of mud, rain or snow splattering against the screen as you drive is a nice touch. I personally enjoyed the snow tracks more, just because it's something new, and found those tracks to be challenging and fun.
Adding some more spice to the races is the addition of collapsible ice bridges and avalanches. The fragile ice bridges can be brought down by driving over them with the larger vehicles like the Big Rig, while an avalanche can be caused by the honking of the horn. Both disasters can be used as an advantage to take out rival drivers, but it can also backfire and end up with you at the bottom of a snow pile.
As you race through these tracks, you'll realise that each has several alternate routes to take. Depending on the vehicle you're racing with, a certain route might be more of an advantage than another, this becomes vital when racing on the harder difficulty levels, as the wrong route may be the difference between first and last.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge has up to eight different vehicle classes. These include the classic types such as the bike, ATV, Buggy, Rally Car, Big Rig as well as vehicles more suited for the new icy environment, like the Snow Machine, Snowplugger and the Snow Cat. There are heaps of vehicles to unlock within those classes by satisfying the required achievements like acquiring a certain number of Festival Points.
A cool feature is that the vehicles are customisable, some of the editable areas include the colour and type of rims on the wheels, exhaust type, paint colour of your vehicle as well as changing sponsor stickers. This allows the vehicles to have your personal touch. As you progress through the game, you'll be able to unlock other options, such as body kits for the vehicles.
There are two types of game modes for MotorStorm: Arctic Edge - Festival and Wreckreation. The Festival is where you'll spend the majority of playing time in this game. The aim here is to acquire points by winning races, which will then lead to unlocking and moving up in rank. The races start off easy enough, but as you progress through the ranks, you'll need all your driving skills as the events become quite a challenge. Wreckreation is the more casual mode, where you race against the clock in Time Attack, go up against other human players in Multiplayer or just do some racing on your favourite track in your preferred vehicle in Free Play.
Fans sceptical of the game's release on the PSP won't be disappointed as it does well to bring all the exciting, frantic and fast-paced racing action of the previous games to the handheld. Aside from the straight forward races, the game includes other race types, like the Time Ticker and Speed Races. Time Ticker was probably the most interesting and innovative race type in the game, where the aim of the race is to reach a certain score before your rivals, with the ticker counting faster as your position improves.
An integral part of MotorStorm is the Boost, for that extra "oomph" in speed. The game wouldn't be as chaotic without it. Of course, there's only a certain amount of time before the Boost will overheat and blow your car up and an innovative feature was the use of the environment to cool down the Boost meter. This can be achieved by driving through a thick snow patch or a river stream that runs across the track. I found this very useful, as you'll want to have your finger on the boost button, as long as possible for that edge over your rivals.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is an impressive looking game that is incredibly fun to play. It does a good job of carrying on the MotorStorm name in a handheld.