On one occasion, I finished a rooftop race without crashing once… and still came second. Other attempts were full of crashes, yet I won pretty easily. I know there isn't blatant rubber-banding because I did try stopping for 60 seconds just to make sure I couldn't catch up again. But there's no denying that you'll often find yourself between last and ninth over the first two laps, before suddenly emerging near the top 4 with a lap to go. You're crashing just as much, not doing anything better or worse, yet you're suddenly a contender. Most odd.
Fortunately, all the dissatisfaction that comes from racing the AI drones disappears when you take the game online, and it starts to get genuinely fun when you get in a big online race and start making some friends (and enemies). We've coveredthe betting mechanicbefore, but it works really well and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people hooked on an online experience.
If you have broadband, then you'll almost certainly have a great time with MotorStorm Apocalypse. In contrast, offline multiplayer isn't asentertaining as it should be.
While the split screen mode is a minor miracle in terms of what PS3 is doing four times over, the actual feeling of playing is too detached. Everyone is just trying (surprise!) 'not to crash', so there's little genuine competition and racing, at least until everyone knows the tracks inside out– which will take a long time and is hardly going to happen over the course of an evening'sparty.
Appetite for destruction
The single-player game manages to keepthe frantic action and destruction goingfor its entire 7-8 hour long story mode, which is a considerable achievement. But sometimes the constant barrage of explosions does seem a little forced. It's pleasing the first time you crash and see your car explode as the fuel tank ignites, but… every single time? It can look ridiculous, as a small prang sees you sliding gently to a halt before going up like the 4th of July.
There is some degree of recycled content as you start the festival again with a new character as they're all taking part in the same events. They all arrive on the island, they all race, they all leave at the end. But while environments are reused, the state of their destruction is at a different stage for each character, so the content is different if not entirely new.
One will see a skyscraper still standing, the next will see it fall, the last will race around its wreckage, although seldom in that order. It's interesting and impressively natural-looking, but diminishes the impact of each new track a little as you realise you've seen most of it before.
The soundtrackdeserves special mention because it was recorded at Abbey Road studios. You know, the place where The Beatles recorded their album of the same name.The idea was this: Hollywood composerKlaus Badelt (who scored Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest) would write the game's music, which would be recorded by an orchestra at Abbey Road, then the result would be handed to cutting edge DJs to mix before being put into the game. Great idea in theory, but the result isn't noticeably superior to Slipknot's Before I Forget and Curve's Hell Above Water from MotorStorm 1 and may actually put some players off.
Above: The London Metropolitan Orchestra... or Slipknot? The new game takes a chance on the former
Without wanting to get too down on the music, every loading screen features the same piece that goes from pleasant military-style horns to an annoying 'dramatic' swelland atonal orchestral flurry. Having to sit through this same annoying tone-setter every time only serves to highlight how long the load times actually are - and this is despite a mandatory install.