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Review: Online verdict now included

We've added to our Japanese import piece our review of the PAL game's online mode. The single player game is prety much the same from what we can see but the Japanese game didn't ship with an online mode. Here's how it all works online...

Imagine the carnage of online mud-splashing racing with a colossal 16 players all scrambling round ramp-filled canyon tracks it a frenzied attempt to finish ahead of the pack.

Motorstorm is a great mud-mashing racer in single player, but one of the most attractive features of is the game is the 16-player online racing mode, which has been added to the European version of the game.

We dived online to check it out with fellow testers across the country and give Sony's servers a hammering. On arrival to the online mode, you're presented with two familiar options - you can either join of create a game.

Setting up a game gives you a fair few options - you select the type of cars that can be used, turn 'catch-up' on or off, select the time of day and the usual stuff. Then you dive into the lobby, which is definitely the most disappointing part of the whole online mode. All players names are listed, along with their current status (finishing race, preparing etc), and their rank. That's it.

There's no scoreboard to give players a sense of competition, you can't see what options the host is changing, there's no course map to show you what type of course you're playing next - nothing. When compared with something like PGR 3's online lobby, which shows you all of this and more, it's clear that Motorstorm suffers from a lack of information.

You also can't choose your car while waiting in the lobby for the game to start. This is done after the host has activated the race. This puts you under a 30-second time limit to choose your car, which is bad because the each car can take a while to load in. This means you can't browse through the vehicle and ponder your thoughts. You just take whatever comes up first. And you can't make your selection based on what type of course you're playing because, of course, you don't know.

These are just the finer points on of online gaming though - the difference between good and elite. So Motorstorm's online mode lacks these finer details but, gameplay wise, it works brilliantly.

Playing online is mental - you're all bashing into each other as a nearly a dozen cars, bikes and trucks all try to plough over narrow bridges and along small paths. It's carnage as racers split off down different routes, and five-car pile-ups occur when the course rejoins later. This is what we expect from PS3 and we've got it.

It would be even better if there were a points system, but there unfortunately isn't. That keeps track of your wins and losses, and you get no reward for coming in second or third - placing anything other than first counts as a loss. Harsh.

Motorstorm's online mode gives the impression it was rushed in at the last moment. It works well in-game but its functionality is minimal. It's a great laugh, just don't be expecting all the online menus and interfaces to be as smooth as a 360 Live title. Remember though, it's early days for PS3 online.

Japanese import review: When you win a race in Motorstorm, you know you've exercised some pretty admirable restraint. At first, you'll think, "Ooh! Look! Mad crashes, pretty explosions, open desert! I'm going to drive like a twat!" After a while, though, you'll realise that joyriding gets you nowhere. It's all about not crashing - it's the anti-Burnout.

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