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A throwback to such dusty, musty classics as R.C. Pro-Am and Super Off-Road, MotorStorm RC features miniature muscle cars, monster trucks, dune buggies, and other tiny transports on tracks inspired by atmospheric locales in Sony’s off-road franchise. The emphasis is on pure, unadulterated racing, with an engaging social element that has you issuing and accepting challenges from friends.
MS RC's simple approach gives you the choice of locale, event selection, and the challenge of beating seven computer-controlled rivals across each twisting course, all in the classic isometric viewing angle. That’s basically it. Races are often over within a minute, and while there are multiple event types within a region, the object in each is basically the same: weave through each course as quickly as possible to earn the medals needed to unlock new events and vehicles.
Each of the game’s four locales (Monument Valley, Arctic Edge, Pacific Rift, and Apocalypse) is home to 12 events, with each event having three medals to win. A first-place finish in a standard race will unlock all three medals, with other events offering slightly different objectives. “Hot lap” has you trying to set the fastest lap time, “pursuit” involves passing rival cars as quickly as possible, and “drift” has you power-sliding across corners to earn a certain number of points.
The vehicles you’ll unlock all sport different degrees of handling, from muscle cars that slip and slide to buggies that offer tight turning. Of course, all of the RC cars can be difficult to control if you’re used to their bigger counterparts. The zippy acceleration and lightweight feel makes trying to perfect each course a challenge, especially when racing on ice or with the high-speed sports cars.
While the title offers plenty of replay value for those seeking to earn all of the medals, the real drawing power of the game is the continuous updates you’ll receive from friends or by viewing the Twitter-like feed from the game’s “Pitwall.” You’ll receive posts on the fastest times in a particular event and the person who broke the previous record, giving you added incentive to revisit an event.
After each race, you can post your results on Facebook to confuse mom, dad, and Aunt Edna, or send out a challenge to your friends on the PlayStation Network. There are also online leaderboards, a time attack mode, and a playground option where you can spend some time zipping around a stunt park filled with ramps, bowls, and basketball hoops.
Another nice feature is the cross-platform support for the PlayStation Vita version of the game, which is available as a free download. Your save data and unlocked trophies are automatically stored in the cloud after each event, allowing you to resume progress on your platform of choice.
The PS3 and PS Vita versions of the game are very similar, so if you don’t care about having local four-player races or cross-platform play, you might as well save the $10 and jump on the Scion-sponsored free Vita download (while it’s available for North America). In addition to an exclusive car on the Vita version (the Scion iQ), there are a few other differences to keep in mind. First, some may find the controls to be a bit easier on the PS3 since acceleration and braking are mapped to the analog shoulder buttons (on Vita, you use the right analog stick by default). The PS3 game also has more detailed visuals, while the Vita game has longer load times in between races.
While MotorStorm RC is enjoyable little racer, there are a few drawbacks. There are only four camera viewpoints in the game, with the best being the aerial view, since it lets you see more of the track. There’s no behind-the-car perspective, so fans of traditional racing games might have a hard time adjusting to the action.
Though the PlayStation 3 version offers four-player simultaneous racing, it’s limited to friends and family members on the same system. The game doesn’t support online competition, which is a big disappointment, and there are no power-ups, turbo boosts, or car upgrades outside of new paint schemes.
Despite its limitations, MotorStorm RC is a great game that'll remind older gamers of classic RC titles of decades past. While it's not grand in scope (and we wish it supported online), its old-school approach is a pleasant surprise, especially as you realize just how easy the game is to pick up and how difficult it is to put down.
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