What could possibly be enjoyable about a racing game which sees you gloriously thrash the field for 97 per cent of a race, only to be shoved straight into a tire barrier six agonizing yards from the finishing line? And not even by a malicious human competitor, but through the seemingly entirely random behavior of a computer-controlled one? Life is spectacularly unfair at times.
Well, if it was just about any other game, the answer would be “to hell with it.” But this isn’t just any other game. This is MotorStorm, Sony’s hi-def, high-octane posterchild for PS3 gaming, and thankfully it’s a game of extremes - the excitement is intense, the frustration at times, is unbearable. Yet that nervous tension is merely the by-product of a game which will push you right to the edge. Believe us when we say you’ll slowly grow to love the rapid onset of pad-smashing fury. You’ll take it as a sign of how deeply and completely MotorStorm manages to burrow under your skin.
You’ve seen those slightly weird late-night shows of “alternative” festivals set in vast deserts, right? MotorStorm’s premise is a bit like one of those. It’s a huge desert racing festival, complete with arenas in the distance, multicolored flags flapping along the sides of canyons and helicopters hovering trackside - presumably to transport crushed competitors’ bodies to hospital. It’s made up of a series of events which you need racing passes to enter. By completing a set of races you gain the next pass, and so on. It’s simple, there’s nothing you’ve not seen already, yet it suits the stripped back racing on hand down to a tee.
So you’ve got dusty, wide open spaces, ramps, even bigger ramps, a demon boost and a field of big rigs, motorbikes, rally cars and buggies. That sounds like a recipe for balls-out joyriding, Burnout-style, but to approach MotorStorm with “drive like a maniac” mode engaged is to miss the point. Sure, the levels of carnage are among the finest and most brilliantly sickening ever seen, but the object is to win races. So while the crunches and explosions look great, you’ll want to stay well clear of them or else your hard-fought-for pole position will disappear in a tailspin.