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March 3 2007
Motorstorm - PS3 Preview
Release Date Distributer Publisher Developer
23/3/2007SonySonyEvolution Studios
Offline Players Online players Price Anticipation
12-12$99.95
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Motorstorm is one of the best looking games, ever.
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Actual in-game graphics.

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Vehicles are stunningly detailed.
Motorstorm is a game which received massive press at E3 2005 due to a stunning movie showing plenty of thrills and spills. It was later revealed that that movie was only a target render of the game, but as you can see in the surrounding in-game screenshots, the final product isn't too far off that initial movie. With development of the game commencing in early 2005 it's remarkable what Evolution Studios (who developed the impressive World Rally Championship titles on PS2) have achieved in just over 2 short years. This certainly one of the biggest launch titles on the PS3.

Motorstorm is, as I hope you are aware, an off-road racing game. The game includes 8 large tracks which are split up into multiple pathways and levels - many of which are suited to one vehicle over another. Speaking of vehicles Evolution Studios have included 7 distinct vehicle classes in the game (ATV, Bike, Buggy, Racing Truck, Rally Car, Mud Plugger & Big Rig) with each class having 5 different styles to select from with a number of unique skins. Each of the vehicles has two camera angles. All the driven vehicles (Buggies, Big Rigs etc) include a third person and a first person camera while the ridden vehicles (ATV & Bike) have two different third person camera - one distant and the other almost over the shoulder.

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Another in-game screenshot.
The single player mode includes races with up to 16 vehicles on track at once which makes for some very exciting races when everyone is bunched within close proximity. Each of the 8 tracks - while predominantly based in desert locations looks quite unique with some wonderful effects in the backgrounds such as weathered flags fluttering, large screens showing the action and numerous taunts from one rider to another.

One of the key aspects to the racing in Motorstorm is that the tracks deform as you travel over them. If you travel through mud then you will leave tyre tracks, the next time you go past that section of the track again it will still be deformed, and affect the handling of your car. Each of the different surfaces, be it mud, dirt or asphalt, affects the way in which each vehicle handles. Mud Pluggers, for instance, are good on muddy surfaces, but not as fast as motorbikes on rock. In many tracks two surface types may be present at once - for instance it may be dry dirt on the high side of the road, and muddy on the low side - so choosing your line can greatly affect the result.

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Motorstorm's vehicles breaking up.
It must be said that after playing Motorstorm for some time I don't think there's many titles that provide as many 'on-the-edge-of-your-seat' moments. There's nothing like being stuck among a bunch of racers flying around the top of a rocky cliff with any number just looking to bump you off your racing line and over the edge to your doom - well, certainly painful delay as your car is reset back on the track. Equally exciting is the way the cars crash and break up into hundreds of pieces, in part thanks to the wonderful physics engine used in the game.

One feature missing which some people may be disappointed about is a lack of split-screen gameplay for two or four players. This is a single player game on each console. Fortunately though, there is plenty of online support with up to 12 players able to race against each other online and to add to the thrills full voice chat via both USB or Blue tooth headsets is also enabled.

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Collisions really are a highlight.
Much has been made of Sony's decision to use Blu-Ray as the media for PS3 - but with this game using a massive 18GB (and compressed at a rate of 2:1) it's already starting to pay dividends. Motorstorm looks stunning with wonderfulsurface deformation. The effects such as mud being kicked up isn't as good as the pre-rendered movie implied in 2005, however the developers have stated it was a deliberate decision to tone it down. The game runs at 720p and with a silky smooth frame rate (which is locked in at 30fps) this is undoubtedly one of the most impressive titles ever seen visually.

Audio is also heavily rock influenced. Bands on the soundtrack include Nirvana, Slipknot, Queens of the Stone Age, Wolfmother, Primal Scream, and Reverand Horton Heat to name a few. Unfortunately there is no option yet to import your own music into the game however the developers have confirmed that if there is enough demand this may be added into a future download. The game features 7.1 audio via HDMI as well as Dolby Digital support. Interestingly the developer are also introducing a technology dubbed 'Live-Fi' that presents all of the music tracks in the front end of the game as live versions. These have been cleared with the original artist and you can't get them in this format form anywhere else.

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Now that's next-gen graphics.
Following the games release we will see plenty of downloadable content. Not only can we expect plenty of new tracks and vehicles but rumours have also pointed to new game modes, or even a split screen mode. Naturally we can expect that there will be a cost for these downloads, but we expect them to be fairly minimal being a Sony title, and a game which will push plenty of people to use the Playstation Network.

With Americans receiving Motorstorm in a couple of days on March 6th we are now guaranteed this will be a Playstation 3 launch title in Europe and Australia on March 23rd. Motorstorm promises to deliver the thrills and spills promised. Here comes the next-generation folks!