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Motorstorm: Apocalypse hands-on

They sometimes even hold onto the roof of your car for a few seconds, legs flailing around wildly as they attempt to hold on. And then they're gone, straight under the wheels of the next car. If we'd bought the game, we'd be looking at the disc and wondering if it had been put in the wrong box. This isn't Motorstorm - what the hell's going on?

As the name would suggest, the game is set at the end of the world, in a city not unlike San Francisco. When you start your career, the city is deserted (almost – we'll come to that) and the buildings are all derelict as a result of terrible earthquakes, but mostly still standing. As you race, more earthquakes occur and the buildings start to fall down. We're promised that there will be 'no cheap resetting' of buildings and that once they've fallen down, they'll stay down as you play through the career. Nice.

The career mode is set over 48 hours in the city and starts with a sprint up the beach from the Motorstorm carrier, which throws you straight into the action. We didn't get to see this bit, but we're told it's fully playable and introduces you to the action in the best possible way.

Above: Concept art showing how the interactive introduction will look

After this undoubtedly spectacular beginning, the game is broken into three sections, each of which has its own central character and difficulty level. So you'll start on Easy with the rookie who stole aboard the MotorStorm carrier, then you'll tackle the Medium events with the survivor. Finish this and you'll get to race as Big Dog, the veteran.

You have to tackle these difficulty tiers in order and complete them fully in order to progress to the next tier (boo!), although the game's lead designer told us that hardcore players won't mind having to play through on Easy as the spectacle will be so great early on, then they'll get races to really get their teeth into. We'd still rather have the choice, but if it's done well, I'm sure we won't mind a few popcorn races to take in the view.

Above: The start and finish line is suspended from a helicopter

We played a demo track which will be shown off at E3 for a good hour and it's surprising how much gameplay there was to be had. On the first playthrough, we were watching the scenery elements crumble away above us and gasping (no, really - it was a 'whoah' moment) as the ground fell away unexpectedly after a jump, sending us into a subterranean parking lot.

Justin worked on the GamesRadar+ staff for 10 whole years. Imagine that. Now he is a contributor, specialising in racing games, retro, and Sanic.