Saturday 23 September 2005
PS3 mud-and-metal racer MotorStorm had a rough ride at its E3 showing, not least from us, but happily the Tokyo Game Show version feels a lot closer to that original, thrilling target footage.

The visuals are slowly but surely catching up with the notorious E3 2005 movie, with great lighting and some truly obsessive right-down-to-the-sprockets modelling on the various vehicles. More importantly, though, the physics feel as heavy as they should, and you really get the feeling your wheel-grips are churning for dear life as you tear up the desert tracks.

Every bump, incline, or chunk of metal bashed off one of your opponents has an effect on the wheels of your vehicle, so rather than just wailing on the accelerator we really had to wrestle it around the track - positioning the wheels to land from a jump as well as possible, decelerating (!) into tight corners, and boosting at just the right time. Yes, there's boost - all the vehicles we tried are a little on the slow side normally, being more stock racer than muscle car, but the boost can rack up truly arcade-ridiculous speed.

Above: See that slumped man at the bottom? We don't think he's sleeping

The trick, of course, is knowing when to use it - go flat-out too much and your car will overheat and, ultimately, explode (the developers have obviously used every excuse they can to get things blowing up and showering the track with scrap metal). Use it too little, though, and you'll fall behind the AI's aggressive pace - so it's a matter of short, regular bursts in moments when all four wheels are just about on even ground.