Hands-On Preview: It's a storm... of motors!
While certain titles at the Sony booth aren't really doing the PS3 huge lip service, it is encouraging to see MotorStorm coming along so very well. Early videos seemed quite far-fetched and tricked out, and while they certainly were target demos, the game playable at E3 is certainly a fantastic prelude to what the game could be when it arrives.
MotorStorm allows you to jump onto muddy off-road tracks and compete against several other racers at the same time. The catch? Each of the racers are in different vehicles, meaning you'll see dirt bikes, big rigs, dune buggies, and standard cars. Each of the vehicles handles quite differently, and they each have obvious strengths and weaknesses, especially with the muddy terrain. A big rig is quite well suited for plowing through the mud and other competitors, but it suffers in the overall speed category. Conversely, a dirt bike will be able to speed along pretty good, but bigger vehicles can clock it quite easily (many collisions provided humorous driver launches ? one even happened in the air off a ramp). This vehicle dynamic certainly makes the racing quite unpredictable and entertaining, and it is not uncommon to see vehicles smashing into each other, flying over ramps, and being turned over ? all at the same time.
The AI of the computer racers is very good, and many times the competition would aggressively try and slam into anything that got close to it. The competition was able to keep up with the muddy terrain and sharp turns as well, even going as far as to take risks in order to leave others in the dust. The Sony reps said this was an area where special attention was paid, as they wanted the fun factor for the user to be enhanced by smart AI that challenged them.
Straight up, MotorStorm is looking graphically fantastic. Not only does the track feature real-time tire trials and great looking terrain, but the cars all accumulate mud on their models during the race. By the end of a race, your car will look as if it's been drenched and caked in mud, with this increase in debris affecting speed and performance ? most cool. There were some great blur and spark effects coming off of the track and cars, and these touches really added to the hyper reality of the racing.
MotorStorm was encouraging when compared to Gran Turismo HD, which while good, is just an enhanced version of an existing title. MotorStorm is showing that it really wants to look and sound good, but also do something gritty and different with the racing genre.