MotorStorm was a sweaty, dirty game. Outside of Call of Duty 4, Sony’s console-exclusive off-road racer was the number one reason to stay online. It was a hard and unforgiving bastard too. MotorStorm was also buggy and flakey. Load times would wind you up long before the occasional random collisions sent your car spinning through the air in tiny pieces, in lovingly realised cutscenes that made Burnout blush. They couldn’t be skipped. You got angry.
There’s room for improvement, which is good as it means MotorStorm 2 won’t just be a replay of the first game on a new set of tracks. Far from it. MotorStorm 2 is the sequel equivalent of a Swedish massage, the developer’s hands have spent the last 18 months thumbing out all the little issues and glitches that made MotorStorm a pain to play, then lathering up the results with a glamorous setting, new vehicles and a surprisingly deep destructible environment.
“We listen to gamers all the time, we trawl forums for opinions and we read every mail sent to us.” Says Nigel Kershaw, Game Director at Evolution, before describing the ideas process of approaching the sequel. “Our philosophy is to look at what people are saying in order to validate the ideas we’ve had as professional developers.”
Let’s start with that island. The new tropical world makes the dirt and dust of MotorStorm’s Monument Valley a distant memory and will offer some surprisingly original tactical treats for fans of arcade racing. Like most tropical paradises, MotorStorm 2’s island is a South Pacific volcanic burp, a stretch of land thrown up eons ago by nature’s gas. The result is a landmass with a variety of terrain. The northern area features a mountain range that leads to the dormant volcano - you can expect gravel and loose rock here - as well as the promise of snow at the Volcano’s peak. Going north, you visit a small community. South is a bay area and beach. Heading inland leads to the game’s jungle and swamps.
Best though, are the open stretches of beach that should offer multiple ways to race, with the soft sand and crashing waves tempting racers down different paths. What this island offers over the original MotorStorm is a variety of environments to race in. Water will be key, as your vehicle will overheat if you pump the nitro for too long, but splashing through deep water in the swamp or the crashing waves on the beach will cool the engine. It will likely come at a price though, taking you off the faster racing line. But if implemented properly, using water to cool your overheated engine could result in a Burnout-style constant nitro, encouraging racers to explore dangerous waters in order to stay ahead of the pack.