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Motorstorm Apocalypse marries thrills of off-road racing with end of world bedlam. A little indulgent maybe, but the quality and polish on display shone through even this most juvenile of videogames.
Motorstorm Apocalypse is utter pandemonium. Like the three previous Motorstorm titles, Apocalypse revolves around a series of off-road races with a multitude of different vehicle types and no set path from start to finish.
Where it differs is that as opposed to journeying through naturally hazardous lush rainforest or arctic tundra you find yourself in the middle of any number of cataclysmic events. - earthquakes, hurricanes and the occasional civil war.
Apocalypse is split into two sections; Festival is the main career mode and Wreckreation where you replay unlocked levels. A narrative strand loosely runs through Festival mode linking the events together and giving context to the destruction and chaos occurring during the races. The narrative follows one of three different characters who each have a different perspective on the events of the story and serve as the novice, intermediate and expert difficulty levels. It's told through a stylised motion-comic which, whilst aiding comedic interpretation, makes the more serious moments far less weighty. Despite this, the presentation does add to the rough around the edges feel that Apocalypse is keen to present itself with.
This tone continues into the gameplay, which forces you to carve your own path through the unfolding carnage. Suspension bridges buckle and swing wildly tossing competitors and debris aside like leaves in the wind. A suburban neighbourhood comes under attack from rioters and PMC groups leaving white picket fences replaced by shell craters and burned out tanks. It's all very Roland Emmerich, but Evolution Studios has maintained a polish and scale equal to the monumental events it portrays.
I'm trying a little too hard to be mature.
If I was in my early teens, Motorstorm: Apocalypse would be perfect for me. Videogames used to be a way for me to raise my blood pressure and experience the phenomenal without leaving my bedroom. As a tornado rips through a seaside resort, tearing up the boardwalk and yanking a Ferris wheel from its joisting my inner teenager sets itself free and 15 again.
My older self has a different perception of videogames. I don't crave Hollywood sheen and teenage kicks and while not an entirely somber affair my games need some narrative backbone to interest me.
Apocalypse has none of this, but as I flip my nearest competitor off the side of a building I find myself overlooking my grownup pretensions. Perhaps I'm trying a little too hard to be mature, but I'm not sure what else to do. It's no secret that I struggle to square gaming and my age. I often try to validate my gaming by only choosing mature and advanced titles.
It's easy to become embarrassed by videogames. It's still not socially accepted by everyone. I love videogames more now than when I was younger. Perhaps giving in and embracing Motorstorm Apocalypse is testament to that. I don't allow myself many guilty pleasures these days, I have a weakness for cheap wine and Kevin Smith films but that's about it, perhaps games like Apocalypse are exactly what I need to remind me why I played games in the first place.
Life's way of telling you you've wasted a perfectly good chunk of your youth.
Despite its adolescent design, Apocalypse is immaculately produced. The vehicle handling is grippy and responsive and the AI and track design are challenging and unpredictable (in a good way), very rarely does a racing game, especially an off-road racing game, get the combination of these qualities right.
Apocalypse isn't perfect though. It has a fairly deep online multiplayer with a progression system similar to Call of Duty. However, I only really dabbled with this after finishing the campaign mode. There was little reason to keep play it because of those scripted events, no matter how awe-inspiring they were.
I'll be the first to admit that I often tend to over-think gaming, but the simple pleasures and unmistakable quality present in Motorstorm Apocalypse remind me that it's okay to like immature titles. Ultimately, games are about having fun and what could be more fun than driving a monster truck though an office block as an earthquake shakes the building apart? Nothing, that's what.
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