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MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Review

Written by Sam Lawrence | Friday, 15 May 2009 21:35

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So beautiful, just watch you dont fall off the edge.

Picture a beautiful secluded island with perfect beaches, wonderful rainforests, massive cliff sides and natural volcanoes. It's a wonderfully calming place, nothing to disturb its natural beauty. Can you hear the birds chirping? I can, it's beautiful. Now imagine getting into a Monster Truck and racing other people in Buggies, Bikes, ATV's, Racing Trucks and more just wreaking havoc on the island. Hmm that's funny I can't hear the birds anymore. If this sounds like your idea of fun then stop reading this review and go bye MotorStorm: Pacific Rift right now. No, seriously do it. For everyone else, you must be a much harder to please, so you'd better keep reading.

As you start the game you get this nice little CG video, skip it. You can't play CG, start playing the game. When you have your first race I think your jaw will drop at how good looking this game actually is. I just love the water levels; they have great water effects, lots of mud and some great views. Some things that might just catch your eye would be when your car gets wet or you drive through a lot of mud your screen looks wet or muddy. It seems to splash up onto your TV and just brings you into the game. The first time you crash you will want to sit there and watch it; they just look so cool and the rag doll physics of the ATV and bike riders just make you squirm a little bit. Oh did i mention that Motorbike and ATV riders can hit eachother? I dont think I did, well they can and its cool!

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Uh, oh!

The Amount of variety that can be found from only 8 classes of vehicle is amazing. The vehicle classes are Bikes, ATV's, Buggies, Rally Cars, Racing Trucks, Mud Pluggers, Monster Trucks and Big Rigs. You choose your vehicle class, then the design and colour. There are a lot of different designs you can have with different colours but none of these effect how the vehicle actually handles so that's about as far as the customisation goes in the game, which is unfortunate.

Since this is a racing game, the way it plays decides how good the game is. And that's why this game is so awesome. Each vehicle type handles completely different, so te excel you need to learn the intricacies of each vehicle class; its weaknesses, its strengths and the best path to take. Take the bike and the Big Rig as two examples; the bike has great acceleration, is quick to turn and has a high top speed. The cons are that you need to try and stay out of the mud and water, avoid other vehicles because you can be knocked off easier and avoid riding through foliage. The big rig on the other hand accelerates slowly, turns slow and has a tendency to drift, but where it exceeds is where the bike fails. Mud and water don't slow it down very much, it can bump other vehicles out the way easily and can plough through foliage much easier. Knowing the ins and outs of your vehicle of choice is one of the most fun aspects of the game.

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Feeling Hot?

Each track, or stage as they refer to them, has at least 2 different paths you can travel. Swapping from one path to the other can be easy or really hard and you need to find the perfect path for each vehicle. It's a game that wants you to remember where the mud, water, lava and jumps are. Other than slowing you car down or, if you fall in it, melting you, the water and lava play a more substantial role in the gameplay. You have a boost button, this is necessary to winning a race, with a boost meter. The longer you hold your boost the more you heat up; the two things that cool you down are time and driving through water. But if you drive near, next to or over lava your boost heats up quicker and cools down slower. Its real risk and reward. It might sound simple but it helps to add a lot of depth to the game. Something that was carried over from the first game was how the mud tracks that are made stay on the track and in the lighter vehicles actually effect the way you ride over the bumps, its a really cool little touch that can effect the outcome of the race.

Adding to that depth are the tracks, all 16 of them, that are split into 4 categories; the Fire, Earth, Water and Air zones. When progressing the Festival mode you unlock extra drivers, vehicle packs (designs and colours) and harder races. Each zone has its own races, each race has a selection of vehicles that are allowed; this is good because if forces you to learn the tracks and used different paths with different vehicles. The race types are just a straight race, an elimination mode where the person in last gets eliminated every 15 seconds and a checkpoint mode. Each mode can have objectives you need to beat such as only wrecking 3 times or beating a certain time. Moving forward in the festival mode means getting 1st, 2nd or 3rd and accruing points for each. After enough points have been earned, more races and harder ranks get unlocked. Believe me though, the higher ranks are hard; this is a game that will kick your ass. You have been warned.

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And who said a pile up doesn't look cool?

The online modes are to be expected, basic but functional. There are ranked and unranked races and voice chat is an option. There are 5 ranks for online racers. In all the races I played online I never had a problem. But what a lot of people are happy about, including myself, is that custom sound tracks are implemented in this game; ok, Xbox 360 owners, I know you have it in every game but this is good for us - SO BACK OFF! Also split screen is here in all its 4 player glory, this was sorely missed from the first.

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He could be in a bit of trouble.

This game is just plain old arcade racing fun! For those of you who enjoyed the first game this one is a much improved game, including the horrible loading times from the first. It's a beautiful game; and even though it has its problems, it's also what a lot of games have been missing lately, FUN, just good plain fun.

4-stars

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