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MotorStorm: Arctic Edge brings the top notch PlayStation 3 off road racing game to the PSP. Leaving the Desert and Island settings of the original games, we take to the slippery sub-zero tundra of Alaska. The video game racing maybe a little smaller but it's just as adrenaline fuelled. And of course there are multiple vehicles and routes through which to race, plus the new Snowmachine and Snowcat vehicle classes.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge on the PlayStation Portable sits towards the more fantastical end of the racing game spectrum, although it delivers this with realistic racing physics. It impresses by pitting motorbikes, cars, jeeps, trucks, big rigs (and now Snowmachines) against each other on the same track.
But rather than all battling for the same racing line, there is a separate route for pretty much every type of vehicle. The tracks have each been cleverly designed to provide a combination of mud, ice, snow, fire and tarmac to balance each race perfectly. Bikes for instance can often take the more direct route but are a little slower, whereas trucks have to go round the houses but can hit higher speeds.
As well as the varied routes, each course provides an exhilarating environment with a strong sense of place. Racing through the tracks you are aware that these are all created in a geographic location with real world limitations and a common palette of materials and colours.
This all adds up to a unique video game racing experience. The player is required to glide, slide and drift their way through the varied levels. At times it seems more like a surfing game than a driving game. This is no surprise as the team behind MotorStorm: Arctic Edge come fresh from success with the SSX snowboarding video games - of course their style of driving game would be as much about reactions as about staying on four wheels. And with MotorStorm: Arctic Edge's return to the Alaskan setting, the team come full circle to their winter-sport racing game roots.
It is this and the variety of routes available that make understanding how to handle the different vehicles key to success. Each MotorStorm: Arctic Edge car, bike or mobile handles differently and demands its own particular route. This means that players are more than happy to revisit old courses in different vehicles - often with surprising results.
For me, the thrill of heading off into the arctic wilderness with a pack of cars, trucks, motorbikes and snowcats was a special thrill. I was reminded of watching the Paris-Dakar desert races back in the day. Playing MotorStorm: Arctic Edge there was a real man and machine versus the elements feel that always made me want to compete in one more race.
Although diminutive in size, no-one should write off this handheld racing game. All the features of the PS3 version make an appearance on the PlayStation Portable and, played on the go, it seems all the more impressive.
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