First, let me say that I like this game--enough that I'll definitely buy a sequel to it, and I won't need to rent it to try it out first.
However, I'm a sucker for racing games. After Grand Theft Auto-type, large-world, free roam and mission games, racing games are definitely my favorite--I can't remember one I didn't enjoy. But if you're not as enamored with racing games, there are a number of flaws to note with Motorstorm:
* There are only seven tracks. You're going to play them over and over and over. There can be different paths to take within a track, and in theory, the different vehicles you have to use--as different as dirt bikes and big rigs--necessitate taking different paths, but in practice, you'll probably find that mastering a particular path on a particular track will allow you to win regardless of your vehicle, so at about the halfway point, gameplay becomes more "mechanical" as you keep going through the motions.
* To deal with the above problem and make the game a bit more challenging, three tactics are used, with all of them being less than satisfactory to annoying:
- The weather and time of day is varied. This is actually a nice feature; the problem is that it just isn't done enough.
- A regular feature of the game is that dust and mud appear on the "camera". For some races, they're harder because so much mud splashes on your camera that you're effectively blindfolded for a few moments.
- The AI racers become extremely annoying. They're designed just to make the game harder as it goes along. If you imagine their actions being real world behavior, it's more like you're racing against a cadre of institutionalized mental patients:
The AI will usually perform the same relative to you for each race. If you drive like a grandpa through a couple laps, it will too, and then as you drive like a bat out of hell, using boost all the time for the last lap, it will too.
You're going to wreck--and explode--your vehicle a lot. For most of the race, it's easy to regain your position. But on the last stretch of the last lap, that doesn't matter, and guess what? (See the following.)
No matter how well you're doing or how far ahead you think you are, on most races, AI racers will come out of nowhere on the last stretch of the last lap, overtaking you and/or wrecking you so you can't progress. You have to come in first on most races to keep unlocking more.
Motorstorm often seems more like smash-em-up derby than a race. AI cars can constantly explode all around you, but regardless of how much they do this, even if you drive through the track fast and clean, AI racers will be on your butt in certain sections, especially on the last stretch of the last lap.
With the AI so focused on smash-em-up derby, higher levels are primarily harder because the AI tries to knock your vehicle into rocks, off of cliffs, etc. It will do this as if its the AI "driver's" sole purpose--as if it couldn't care less if other vehicles are blowing past, and even if you almost come to a complete stop, the AI will match your speed just to knock you into a wall.
* The music becomes repetitive. Of course, with the amount of hours you'll put in to complete this game, that's probably inevitable, even with twenty-one songs, but at times, it seems like the same five songs keep playing over and over. On a game like this, we should be able to load our own music to listen to--shouldn't that be easy on the PS3?
* The load times can be agonizing. Like some others, this is the first game I've played on my PS3. When the first track for the first race was loading, I was worried that my PS3 crashed already. It didn't. That's just how the races load.
* There is no offline multiplayer mode. I don't care much about that feature, but many do. Multiplayer is online only.
So, are there no positives beyond this being a racing game? Of course there are:
* The graphics are beautiful. I don't know if this is going to be unusual for PS3 games, but in comparison, it has actually made normal DVDs on my big-screen HD television look less than stellar to me. If part of the goal was to get consumers to check out BluRay DVDs, the PS3 is doing its job.
* Even though there aren't enough tracks or enough variation on those tracks, those routes are extremely well done. They're a heck of a lot of fun to race on.
* The range of vehicles is great. There are a lot of choices, they look good, and they handle well, with some nice realistic touches.
* The smash-em-up derby approach can actually be fun. The graphics for the wrecks and explosions are fantastic--you'll find yourself wrecking just to watch it. BUT, one of two things should have been done to make this better: either have a smash-em-up derby contest that's a different mode--NOT a race, and/or award points during the races for wrecking other cars than your own. For example, if you cause five other cars to wreck during a race, you get a position bonus (if you need it) at the end, so that if you came in second during the race but caused five wrecks, you get boosted up to first instead (of course, this should apply to all racers), or if you came in third but caused ten wrecks, you get boosted to first, etc. Each time you get wrecked instead would subtract the bonus points from one of the wrecks you caused.