Sometimes a change of scenery can do a world of good. In a shift from the arid deserts of the original game, and the tropical climes of sequel Pacific Rift, Arctic Edge sees the MotorStorm series going through a cold snap. It’s a startling transformation, but it’s most welcome. Tracks are noticeably slippery in places, occasional avalanches will bury unwary vehicles, and you can cool down your boost meter by driving through deep snow. But the colour scheme is the most noticeable change: from boring, brown mud tracks to treacherous mountain paths caked in snow. It looks like an entirely new game.
But beneath the white blanket, very little else has changed. Sure, there are a couple of new vehicles, more suited to the inclement weather, but they don’t feel that different behind the wheel. Arctic Edge consists of the same modes we’ve come to expect from the series: races, speed events, time trials and online multiplayer, if you fancy it. Boot it up and you’ll see a bewildering amount of events to take part in, but there are only a dozen tracks, recycled with ramped-up AI and different weather conditions. Twelve stages is plenty, but the new snowy setting makes a lot of the tracks feel a bit too samey for our liking.
Early events are ridiculously easy, so easy we wondered for a moment if a glitch had erased the other competitors. It hadn’t – the AI gets a lot smarter as you rank up, making discovering shortcuts a must. Arctic Edge lacks much of the wow factor the PS3 games had, but it’s a lovely looking game for a handheld. That said, the smaller screen – and reduced resolution – can occasionally make navigation difficult, especially when using the outside view.
This may be the same MotorStorm we’re already familiar with, but the mere shift of hardware – to the PSP and PS2 – was perhaps the only change that was needed. MotorStorm is still a fantastic racing title, and BigBig have succeeded in recreating everything we loved about it. It’s fast, smart and relatively fairly gorgeous – easily one of the best racing games on PSP. Arctic Edge may not reinvent the wheel, but the change of scenery (and platform) has done wonders.
Sep 29, 2009