The game does punish you for blowing up or falling off the track with a hefty time bonus. We're hoping that balance is one of the issues being worked out for the final version, because you're going to have to become an expert to make it through, otherwise. According to the Sony representative we spoke to, the final version features a tournament structure that alternates between on circuits of tracks, and events centered around specific vehicle types. Everything from crappy little bikes to big rigs is in the game, though every track can't accommodate each type. As you play the single-player game, you'll earn tickets that unlock more vehicles and tracks: it sounds extremely straightforward. The whole thing culminates in the titular MotorStorm tournament, a race around a massive track, with any type of vehicle.
Online racing, which was not present at the event (they had only one demo unit up and running) will allow for 2-12 players at one time. While we just can't be sure if the game will be as fun as we hope it will - we're eager to see if it's the kind of game where you dig into the control and really learn how to play right. That's what we're hoping, and that's how it looks so far... and online is definitely an incentive to hone those skills.