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MotorStorm: Pacific Rift Review

January 20, 2009

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is the sequel to the well-received Motorstorm that launched with the PS3 back in 2006.

Let me get one thing out of the way right off the bat.

I am NOT an offroad racing fan. In fact, I’d go as far to say I hate offroad racers.

With that said. I loved Motorstorm: Pacific Rift.

Gameplay

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is an “offroad” racer. You have a selection of multiple vehicle types such as a dune buggy, ATV, racing truck, rally car, motorcyle, monster truck, big rig, and more. Each vehicle handles drastically differently and has it’s own pros & cons. The ATV handles poorly and is slow but as the name implies, does well on all terrain. The bike is quick but hit so much as a branch in your way and you’ll flip over the handlebars. What Pacific Rift does extremely well though is that it designs the tracks with the vehicles pros & cons in mind. Each course has many multiple paths that can be taken to get to the finish. Each path suits a particular vehicle well while it can be a terrible choice for another. Some will feature many water hazards while some may have huge jumps.

The controls are fairly simple. You’ll accellerate, brake, boost, and you can even side-swipe your opponents. The boost is a well-done feature in that you don’t have a boost amount per se but instead a boost temperature meter. You can boost all you want but if you overheat for too long, your vehicle will explode. However, if you drive through water, it will cool off your boost allowing you to use it longer or let the temperature drop down. Conversely, in the Fire Zone, if you drive over lava or extreme heated areas, your boost temperature will rise. Managing your boost is key to winning many races.

Note: For fun (and to earn credit towards a trophy), try timing your boost so that you overheat and explode over the finish line to win a race.

Speaking of Zones now:

The game takes place across 4 different zones; Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. Each of these Zones are designed extremely well and look absolutely gorgeous. I remember playing a race in the Air Zone, and I encountered a HUGE drop and I remember feeling a sense of almost panic like you would at the top of a rollercoaster. This is how well the levels are designed.

Within each of these zones there are multiple race types to compete in. There’s your typical 16 player races where you need to finish in the top 3 to medal. Then there’s time trials in which you need to reach checkpoints within a certain amount of time. Then there’s  a neat mode called Elimination in which every 10-15 secs the player in last place will be eliminated. This was a very cool mode to play in that if luck would have it that you crashed and fell into last place, you would be in great danger of being eliminated.

About my only gameplay gripe is that the collision detection can be frustrating at times. Sometimes you’ll think you have enough clearance at an edge and you’ll spin out or crash. It doesn’t happen a ton, but it happens enough to be frustrating at times.

Graphics/Audio

The graphics are very good in Pacific Rift. The game is extremely colorful. The land areas can be rich with lots of green and plantlife. The Fire Zone conveys a great sense of heat. The Air Zone has gorgeous clear, blue skies, and the tracks and vehicles in general have a great amount of detail. Not really anything to complain about in this category.

Pacific Rift features a good music soundtrack overall with a lot of fast-paced songs to get you into the intense races. The engine sounds, the boost overheating, all of the sound effects sound extremely well in the game.

Online/Trophies

Pacific Rift features 16 Player Online races which I must admit are EXTREMELY difficult unless you know the shortcuts in the tracks. There is a rank-up system which earns you “experience” based on how many races you play in, how you finish in them, etc. The online works well with no lag that I have experienced. It was fairly easy to find matches online.

The game is also complete with trophies which range from beating 5 races with each vehicle type, to online trophies such as finishing first in a race (very tough to do).

Conclusion

To reiterate, I don’t like offroad racers. Even more, I didn’t like the first Motorstorm. However, I downloaded the demo of Pacific Rift off of the PSN and I couldn’t get enough of the game (excellent marketing Sony!).  About the only thing I can complain about is the collision detection and that’s not a big enough issue to pass up the game by any means.

The tracks are designed near flawlessly, the vehicle balance is superb, and the environments are simply stunning to look at (wait until you turn a corner to be riding into the sun during a race). It’s really hard to find anything wrong with this game.

About the only thing I CAN point out though is that I haven’t played the game terribly much since I picked it up around very late October. I’m not sure if the game itself doesn’t draw me in until I start playing it or if it’s because of the flood of other games that were released during the holidays. One excellent quality of the game though is what I’ve experienced in time trials. If I finish a time trial or any race for that matter with just a bronze medal, I feel compelled to go back to earn gold. I don’t usually feel the need to do this in a racing game but Pacific Rift for some reason makes me want to. I enjoy the levels so much that it’s certainly not a chore either.

With all that said, if you’re a racing fan at all, you should get around to checking out Pacific Rift. It’s one of the better racers I’ve played recently and it’s extremely fun and engaging. While it’s not a must-have game, it’s very close and I highly recommend this title.

Great

Great

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