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I loved the first Motorstorm PS3, really didn't mind its lack of modes, tracks or local multiplayer, those wonderfully varied vehicles and death defying courses were more than enough for me.
To get a second helping in MotorStorm: Pacific Rift was an exciting prospect. I simply had one concern - for all their new features and modes they would leave the pure pack racing experience central and intact.
Pacific Rift gets you in the mood with a huskily voiced introduction that is a close second to the original's call to arms over the Mahabi dessert. Here we are introduced to an island rather than a canyon range and with it a variety of habitats in which to race. Earth courses are closest to the original and focus on hard gravelly land. Air takes this formula and adds an array of jumps and hops. Water brings the most noticeable new effect - water in the form of rivers, rock pools and water falls not only adds a hazard but affords the opportunity to cool town an overheating turbo. Finally, Fire brings the racers to the molten heart of the island - both accelerating the overheat gauge and offering instant death should you land in it.
This really is breath taking stuff - and to my mind unmatched for sheer glee.
Getting back in the saddle for the first time is like meeting an old friend. The same exhilaration as you pull away with the other 16 competitors (each in their own type of vehicle), the same battling for position, and the same peering into the distance to pick out the perfect route through the carnage. This really is breath taking stuff - and to my mind unmatched for sheer glee in any other game. Although in seconds you are battle tooth and nail with each other, the moment you pull off you are on the same side - one for all against the harsh unforgiving elements. A real overland Paris to Dakar rally moment.
Now, although I said I had loved the original MotorStorm PS3, there was one point which it was sorely lacking. A mode close to my heart, being of the 'having friends and family over for the evening' kind of guy. This was a total absence of local multiplayer. You had to get online to pit yourself against other human players.
Happily then, for all the bells and whistles, attention has also been spent on improving some basics. First of which is a two player split screen mode so you can throw down against others in the same room. It's an option many family gamers find invaluable, but also one that is increasingly neglected. Other improvements to the basic mechanics include more distinct vehicle handling and an instant restart option that gives the game that just-one-more-go addictive edge.
I love MotorStorm because of how it makes me feel when I play it.
For all this improvement though there is the slight sense of dilution what was a singularly focused idea. From the introductory movie, to the more varied tracks and cars - the game struggles to create the same sense of place that was key to the original's success. It may be with more play time that the island habitat coalesces into a more coherent whole, but the initial feeling is that of a disparate rather than a singular vision.
This broadening of horizons certainly makes this outing of MotorStorm better value for money. The variety of tracks, the multiplayer and the garage of vehicles you have won are elements most now expect as standard. That said, if you've not played Motorstorm PS3 it now represents good value for money - not only its reduced shelf price but the additional free (and cheap) tracks, vehicles and modes content that can be downloaded straight to your PS3.
I love MotorStorm because of how it makes me feel when I play it. I can't help smiling with glee as I plunge through the various tundra. The low barrier to entry and short time commitment needed make this a great match for my limited free time (what with a young family in tow). But when I want it to it also opens out into an all consuming evening festival of racing I can share with my friends.
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