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MotorStorm - updated hands-on

Whether you're just starting to use your new PS3 hardware or scouring eBay for a listing that isn't insanely overpriced, you might be wondering what's worth playing on the shiny new hardware. The sad answer at this point is "not much," but the system does have a few absolutely stellar titles to its name. One of these, strangely, is the demo for the off-road racer MotorStorm, which can be downloaded for free from the PS3's online store.

MotorStorm has come a long way in the past year. When we first saw it at the Game Developers Conference in March, it was little more than a leave-tracks-in-mud simulator, and its performance at May's E3 expo was underwhelming. We can't say what the full game will be like when it arrives early next year, but the demo is already one of the most enjoyable racers we've played in ages.

The one track you'll get is Rain God Mesa, a muddy, rocky plateau that rises hundreds of feet above the Arizona desert. The goal is a no-brainer; race around the edge of the fantastically dangerous mesa as fast as possible while rocking out to early Nirvana and trying not to be run off the track by the other competitors. To help you out, you'll have an unlimited supply of nitrous for high-speed boosts, which is vital for staying ahead. The only problem is that if you use it for too long, you'll explode in a giant fireball, which is awesome.

You'll get two trucks and two motorcycles to tear it up with, and each vehicle type makes for a drastically different experience. The bikes are much faster, touchier and more maneuverable than the trucks, and they enable you to do cool stuff like wheelies and Road Rash -style attacks on other riders (or rude hand gestures, if you're not close enough to punch them off their bikes). The downside of bikes, of course, is that you're a lot more likely to lose control at a crucial moment, and obstacles that larger vehicles just smash through often send you spinning into a crash.

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