MotorStorm: Arctic Edge marks the first time the series goes backward from the PlayStation 3 to the PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2. Like you’d expect from any backwards conversion, some of the game’s slickness is lost in the downgrading. But as ports go, Arctic Edge holds up well enough on PS2 for diehard racing fans to consider it.
The main drive of the game is Festival Mode, where players race motorcycles, snowmobiles, cars and even dump trucks across 12 different treacherous arctic terrains in a series of events. Some events are standard races against AI opponents and some are time attack or special route challenges. But the tracks themselves steal the show with various reversible twists and turns and terrain that actually affects the handling of whatever vehicle you’re driving.
Granted, the snow and the mud and even the vehicles themselves don’t look all that impressive on the PS2. The graphics are almost as bland as Arctic Edge’s PSP sibling. The pixels seem to get even more jagged when you try out splitscreen multiplayer in Wreckreation freeplay. Having both you and a buddy on screen along with three or four other AI opponents takes a huge toll on the frame rate.
The controls at least hold up well in the backwards conversion. The R1/R2 buttons makes you go, the L1/L2 buttons make you reverse, Circle is the hand break and X is the boost. You can also fiddle with camera angles and views using X and Triangle (and let’s not forget the taunt/attack/honk horn Square button) – but really, all you need is go, reverse, break and boost. Once you get the hang of a track and a good feel for what you’re driving, Arctic Edge turns into the kind of zen experience good racing games turn out to be.
Arctic Edge on PS2 also preserves the vehicle customization MotorStorm is known for. By completing track challenges in Festival Mode, you earn points to put toward vehicle upgrades and unlock cosmetic stuff like paint or sponsor decals. It’s not as much of a thrill because of the graphics downgrading, but it’s nice to have something to work toward in the races. Goodness knows it’s not enough motivation just to come in first in the normal races – most of the AI is so lousy that once you pass it, you barely have to work at all to maintain the lead.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge on PS2 may not be as robust as the previous PS3 versions of MotorStorm or as handy as the PSP version of Arctic Edge (what with the being portable and all), but it’s not a bad racing game to have around if the PS2 is your only option. Consider it as a stocking stuffer for the PS2 holdouts in your life who haven’t gotten around to next gen yet.
Oct 28, 2009