Motorstorm: Apocalypse hands-on

After that, we were learning the track, looking for the fastest routes through the carnage and getting to grips with the sideswipe combat mechanic. Finally, we were perfecting our line through the city, anticipating the scripted events and trying to beat our best times on the leaderboard.

It's been a while since we got that much gameplay out of one track, so while we were a little underwhelmed with the complexity of the course in terms of driving (we didn't need to touch the brakes), you can't deny the game already works on several levels, even at pre-alpha stage.

Above: The first straight, just before a huge lorry smashes in from the left

So what about all those people? The civvy residents may well have left the city after the first earthquake hit, but that doesn't mean it's deserted. Far from it. There are several rival factions fighting with each other for control over what remains of the city. To be honest, there'snot muchleft worth fighting for, but we wouldn't tell them that. The militants have guns and they fire at anything that moves – you included – from the ground and even the sky.

Other factions will attack you with Molotov cocktails and try to hijack your vehicle. These weren't present in the demo we played, and while it sounds like they'll have a big impact on the finished game, the bullets didn't seem to have any effect on us while we played. That said, if this track's anything to go by,it looks like there's never going to be a single second where there's not something to see, do or run over.

Above: Smoke, fires, collapsing buildings. It's a completely different game

The track we played was focused more on spectacle than driving technique, obviously to create as much of an impact as possible on first-time players,but we're assured the finished game will have all kinds of tracks to race on.

These will range from tight, technical traditional tracks set up by the MotorStorm Racing Association through to insane routes over the top of skyscrapers. At one point, you'll even drive down the side of a skyscraper as it falls. No matter what you might think of the changes, there's no denying that sounds friggin' awesome.

The game will feature four player split screen mode, which can now be taken online to face another 12 players, making a total of 16 players. The 16-player cap is something that's been preserved across all the MotorStorm games, but the split-screen/online hybrid is brand new and sounds great.

Above: The game plays very much like this looks. STUFF! THINGS! AARGH!

If all this sounds overly praising, then maybe, just maybe, it is. At this very early stage, we do have some reservations about the game. At present, we can't help but feel that Split/Second already did the exploding city bit, which undeniablyfelt a bit one-note after a few plays. Also, while the graphics have yet to be finished,it's all a bit grey and brown - andthe art design isunlikely to change now. Motorstorm is supposed to be a festival of racing, so to see it looking so drab and building site-coloured is a bit of a come-down.

That said, there's no denying even this one-track demo had some superb moments and the game is certainly taking a lot of risks adding the elements it has. We'll bring you much more on this when we get our hands on a more finished version of the game. And maybe we'll get shown thatskyscraper runat E3...

10 Jun, 2010