Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Bigbig Studios
by: Jim McLaughlin
Almost every generation of racing video games is captured in Motorstorm: Arctic Edge. Since I don't have a PlayStation 3, I'm a newcomer to the series...and is it ever fun! Playing this game has taken me back to when hypnotic soundtracks and splashy physics dominated; part San Francisco RUSH, part 4x4 Evo, part Test Drive Offroad...and 100% awesome.
I really wasn't expecting that great of a game. Very little hype and a crowded release window might have had something to do with that predetermination. Nevertheless, I picked up a copy and brought it home during my wife's work shift, and tentatively fired it up. My first surprise was the number of races available in the game's career mode:over 70 races across 12 tracks! The second surprise was the number of vehicles: a total of 24 customizable rides in 8 different classes (from tanker truck down to dirtbike and snowmobile). All of the vehicles handle uniquely, and none of them are boring.
The bulk of the game is pure racing, which is a blast - if a little too easy. Little gameplay quirks break up the monotony; things like being able to take a swipe at other racers if you're both driving open-top vehicles, or using temporary nitrous boosts. There's a reward system that grants stars for feats like staying in the lead for a certain period of time...these are used to unlock upgrades and specialty parts for your vehicles. Of course, most of this is lost in the plain fun of just hopping on the game and racing. Once you're done with the career mode, you can move on to Wreckreation - a series of time trials and online or ad hoc play. Everything loads rather quickly, and the controls are simple and work very well.
I am extremely pleased with Motorstorm: Arctic Edge. I dare say that it ranks up there with Burnout: Revenge and WipeOut Pure in terms of overall ease of use and pure fun factor. It's not perfect, and the price is just a little too steep for a casual portable title...but it's darn good, and the multiplayer support is top-notch.