Review: MotorStorm RC (Vita/PS3)
The MotorStorm series has always been well received on the Playstation 3, pushing the platform to its limits with stunning expansive landscapes and crumbling city blocks. Now that the games have touched all corner of the globe, Evolution Studios has taken the series in a completely different direction for their Playstation Vita debut, and as it turns out, it could be one of the best launch titles for the system.
NOTE: This review is based off the Playstation Vita release of MotorStorm RC.
Is it worth hitting the track, or should they have left this in the garage a little longer?
The first thing you’re going to notice about the game is…well, it’s not on store shelves! Sony is giving the digital distribution a big push for their shiny new handheld, and as well as full retail games via download, it also opens up the door for smaller releases, similar to the Xbox Live Arcade or PSN Downloadable titles. Motorstorm RC is available for the rather enticing price of £4.79, meaning that it’s potentially a good 80% cheaper than the games off the shelves, and for what you’re getting, it’s very good value for money. Motorstorm RC also is available for the PS3, meaning that you buy it once and can download it onto either device. The only real difference here is that you can play split screen races on the PS3, while the Vita version is restricted to lap time competition only.
Bringing together all the previous environments from the series including; Desert, Jungle, Urban Apocalypse and even the Arctic (from the PSP entry), not only have they shrunk the price, they’ve also done the same to the vehicles. The twist here is that you’re driving remote control vehicles through larger than life tracks, and it really evokes a Micro Machines feel. Instead of the traditional behind the car viewpoint, the camera is very high angle, though much more dynamic than the usual overhead racer.
Various game modes are on offer, ranging from straightforward races with seven opponents to pure time trials. A new pursuit mode has been added, asking you to overtake a specific number of AI vehicles in a given time. While the objectives may differ, it generally comes down to learning the tracks and just getting around as fast as you can. That is except for the drift mode that relies much more on getting a good line around the track to maintain your sideways motion. Many of the car classes have been taken straight from the console version including Monster Trucks, Buggies, Rally Cars, Big Rigs, Muscle Cars and more. There’s definitely a good selection, however it’s a shame that the motorbikes didn’t make it over as well. All the vehicles sound like their tiny counterparts, featuring high-pitched engine noises alongside a pumping techno soundtrack.
The main Festival career is well structured, giving you set vehicle classes and modes, asking you to attain gold medals on each to further unlock the better vehicles. There’s the usual time trial mode, as well as a ‘Playground’, offering you a wide space to mess around in, from a football pitch to half pipes and a dirt track. I wish you could have invited friends into the playground though, as it does hint as some untapped potential that Motorstorm RC could have had.
Controls are kept simple, really simple. Emulating driving a real RC car, the right stick operates your acceleration, while the left stick is for turning. It does take a few races to get used to, but means that your hands never need to move to press another button, though there is the nice feature of being able to tap the screen to pause. In terms of the directional control, there are two options available. You can either opt for the standard left and right, or you can use the stick to point in the direction you want to head. Hitting the Right trigger will respawn you, though if you’re having to use this, you’re not likely to be getting a record time. One issue I did have however is related to restarting races. To do this you have to move to press the Start button to then select ‘Restart Race’. Anyone who has used the Vita for a while will know that the Start button is a little fiddly, and I thought that a much simpler option could have been to hold the left trigger for a second or so, as this button is not used in the gameplay.
Things start to get interesting when Leaderboards are introduced, and Motorstorm RC incorporates these seamlessly into the game experience, giving you notifications a little like the Autolog seen in EA’s latest Need For Speed games, really ramping up the friendly competition on your friends list. Upon booting the game, you’ll want to check out the Pitwall, where recent times will be listed, allowing you to load straight into a race if you see that your time has been beaten. This is on top of the individual leaderboards that show up on every single event, allowing you at a glance to see where you place both amongst your friends, as well as globally. This does however come at the cost of true simultaneous multiplayer, meaning that you’re only ever racing against ghosts. In a way, I prefer this over just having the other, since it means you can be setting your times when you’re out and about, for them to be uploaded next time you sign in to the Playstation Network. Upon completing each race, you’re given the opportunity to send your time challenge via Facebook and Messages to your friends in an attempt to really rub their faces in it.
Powering through all the events will take you some time, and getting the Gold medal can sometimes be very tricky. However, this is a game you’ll be coming back to often to check your position on the leaderboards, making it the perfect pick up and play game. It’s been a long time I’ve cared so much about my leaderboard position, and reminds me of my hours and hours spent on the time trial modes of the original Moto GP titles for the Xbox, attempting to maintain my top 100 time. Friendly competition is always good, and Motorstorm offers this in bucket loads, always pushing you that little further to shame your peers.
Overall, this is the perfect racer for gamers on the go…just make sure your friends buy it too.