MotorStorm: Apocalypse review

  • Impressive destruction and set-pieces
  • Get in a packed online lobby and it's superb
  • Split-screen four-player mode is a technical marvel
  • Crash, reset to track, crash, reset to track...
  • Surprisingly dull offline gameplay
  • Three devices still can't show where the track goes

MotorStorm: Apocalypse is action all the way. It's packed full of collapsing skyscrapers and disintegrating bridges, with the driving experience built around turbo boosting, jumps and vehicular combat. But does turning your iPod up to max volume and listening to it for 6-8 hours automatically create a classic album you'll want to come back to again and again? Let's see what's underneath the rubble.

It's almost completely unrecognisable next to the original game that showed us the potential of Sony's new hardware back in 2006. The mud has gone. The explosions are bigger. Pedestrians throw Molotov cocktails at you. Now there's a sentence that would've sounded absurd four years ago.

Above: Looks strange, doesn't it? Better get used to MotorStorm's new bad boy image. Also, note the guns

But it's only one instance of the game getting more 'mature'. These same pedestrians can be run over and they fly around with ragdoll physics, occasionally clinging to your speeding vehicle before inevitably getting scraped off on a sheet of glass or pile of rubble. There's even some bad language in the new animated cut-scenes and the sense of humour is very dark, complete with a glass eye getting punched out. A woman's glass eye, too.


For the lads

But has it worked? Arguably, not as well as it could have done. Despite the mature content, the humour feels rather immature and the story scenes seems to be aimed at teenaged boys – lots of large-breasted women and adrenaline junkie colloquialisms. The gritty art design also grates a little. Looking at a street that's full of rubble, smoke and debris is about as pleasing on the eye as... a street filled with rubble, smoke and debris. Odd, that.

That's not to say that the apocalyptic setting is dull. There are some downright spectacular set-pieces scattered throughout the game, often on the final lap of each race. The cyclone on the 'Waves of Mutilation' track, in particular, is a shockingly powerful-looking hazard and having to dodge fishing boats raining from the sky is something that doesn't happen very often in videogames.

Above: Environmental effects like this twister look spectacular, although you can't get sucked up in it, sadly

In fact, the first of the game's three stories contains two or three races on the second day that work superbly and everything seems to click. The set-pieces are getting more and more spectacular and you're learning some advanced techniques like cooling your engines in the air. As you near the end of the second day of the festival and things start getting genuinely apocalyptic, you start to think that maybe the game's just going to keep on getting better.

But then you hit the end of the first story and the festival's over. Time to start again from the beginning with a new character. From that point on, it never quite regains that level of cohesiveness and, as a result, you start to pay more attention to the game itself. And then comes the realisation that the actualy gameplay boils down to little more than 'trying not to crash'. Hmmm...

That's easier said than done, mind, especially as the route you're supposed to take is often hard to discern between the thick smoke and piles of rubble. The game has not one, not two, but three signposting devices (chevrons, marked gates and strips of red lights) yet still you'll sometimes find yourself driving towards a wall with no idea why you're not on the track any more. It's also telling that the game's new side-shifting barge attack is actually more useful for avoiding obstacles than for attacking rival racers, which is a shame.

More Info

Release date: Apr 12 2011 - PS3 (US)
Mar 18 2011 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Racing
Published by: SCEA
Developed by: Evolution Studios
ESRB Rating:
Rating Pending
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Username231193 - April 11, 2011 1:46 p.m.

    I loved this game it was fun,it was great sparring with opponents under ground and on top or rooftops, it was like drivin in a movie sometimes, a really good racing game, ive played the first motorstorm but not paficic rift and have really enjoyed this 1
  • peaceful765 - April 4, 2011 9:33 a.m.

    Having so much fun with this title right now. Very thrilling races and excellent graphics. Much better than the demo but I am not liking the cut scenes. They seem like amateur flash animation to me.
  • philipshaw - April 3, 2011 10:08 p.m.

    Good review, never thought this was going to be amazing
  • totalweapon - April 2, 2011 8:02 a.m.

    i think somebody else should review sony exclusives as you justin tool seem to be a xbox fan boy.
  • flare149 - April 1, 2011 2:28 a.m.

    I was kinda worried about this. As a big fan of the Motorstorm series, it seemed to lose a lot of focus and seemed more of a mainstream cash in than something that would appeal to the "Lunatics Unite" crowd of the first two games. I'll probably rent it or pick it up at some point, but it just seems to be missing that flair that the first one had. I noticed it when the first few trailers and none of them had an awesome Pendulum theme
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - April 1, 2011 12:35 a.m.

    If I one day get a PS3, I'll get Motorstorm one for sure. I just thought it was really fun, and there isn't anything on the 360 which is as good.
  • Raiden145 - March 31, 2011 10:41 p.m.

    and then they compare ps3 to 3ds tsk 3ds is TRASH , although this game is awesome in 3d :)
  • HaVoK308 - March 31, 2011 8:50 p.m.

    Was looking forward to renting this.
  • Rhymenocerous - March 31, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    I think I still prefer the original Motorstorm. No nonsense.
  • Pocotron - March 31, 2011 8:21 p.m.

    I'm calling you out Justin! A 7 for both Gran Turismo 5 and Motorstorm 3? Which both just happen to be exclusive for the PS3? BIAS! BIAS I SAY! No, just kidding, great review thar.
  • CharlieFockstrot - March 31, 2011 6:25 p.m.

    Not as good as Road Rash on Megadrive then. lolz
  • sleepy92ismypsn - March 31, 2011 5:28 p.m.

    I was planning on buying this but now I'm not so sure. I've never played a Motorstorm game and I thought this was going to be the best in the series. 7 is a good score but I know there will be plenty of 8's, 9's and 10's coming out later on this year.
  • Spybreak8 - March 31, 2011 2:09 p.m.

    "It's meant to be about the spectacle and the fun that comes from throwing around your little ragdoll rider around by overheating the boost and blowing him sky high." Hehe that reminded me of Flatout.
  • MJHAYLETT - March 31, 2011 12:10 p.m.

    Every Motorstorm game has been quote 'Crash, reset to track, crash, reset to track...' end quote :D
  • Robx - March 31, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    It's funny cuz all the "You'll hate" suits Burnout Paradise!
  • nedubis - March 31, 2011 11:51 a.m.

    Great review Justin. I got this yesterday and am loving it so far. I just love the handling and the risk/reward gamble with the boost. I also like the small additions they have made - like releasing the accelerator whilst in the air to cool down your boost etc. I have only played the single player so far - but have been enjoying it. The other drivers AI seems pretty good to me, I like how they have their own crashes and tussles etc. Looking forward to venturing online with it. Agreed about the story elements though - made me cringe
  • JayBeat - March 31, 2011 11:40 a.m.

    I cant see how it would still be fun after playing it heaps, especially when the racing is not the main feature. You can only see a building fall the same way so many times.
  • Cyber6x - March 31, 2011 11:35 a.m.

    Interesting.....I still might get this. I played the demo and I thought the controls were a bit sluggish but it was fun as hell.

Showing 1-18 of 18 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000