MotorStorm was a sweaty, dirty game. Outside of Call of Duty 4 Sony's console-exclusive
off-road racer was the number one reason to stay online. It was a hard and unforgiving bastard too.
MotorStorm was also niggly, buggy and flakey. Load times would wind you up long before the occasional random collisions sent your car spinning through the air in tiny pieces, in lovingly realised cutscenes that made Burnout blush. They couldn't be skipped. You got angry.
There's room for improvement, which is good as it means MotorStorm 2 won't just be a replay of the first game on a new set of tracks. Far from it. MotorStorm 2 is the sequel equivalent of a Swedish massage, the developer's hands have spent the last 18 months thumbing out all the niggles and glitches that made MotorStorm a pain to play, then lathering up the results with a glamorous setting, new vehicles and a surprisingly deep destructible environment.
"We listen to gamers all the time, we trawl forums for opinions and we read every mail sent to us." Says Nigel Kershaw, Game Director at Evolution, before descibing the ideas process of approaching the sequel. "Our philosophy is to look at what people are saying in order to validate the ideas we've had as professional developers."
Let's start with that island. The new tropical world that makes the dirt and dust of MotorStorm's Monument Valley a distant memory and will offer some surprisingly original tactical treats for fans of arcade racing. Like most tropical paradises, MotorStorm 2's island is a South Pacific volcanic burp, a stretch of land thrown up eons ago by nature's gas.
The result is a landmass with a variety of terrains, the northern area features a mountain range that leads to the dormant volcano, you can expect gravel and loose rock here, as well as the promise of snow at the Volcano's peak. Going north, you visit a small community, south is a bay area and beach, before heading inland to the game's jungle and swamps.
Best though, are the open stretches of beach that should offer multiple ways to race, the soft sand and crashing waves tempting racers down different paths.
What this island offers, over the original MotorStorm is a variety of environments to race. Water will be key, as before your vehicle will overheat if you pump the nitro too much for too long, but splashing through deep water in the swamp or the crashing waves on the beach will cool the engine.
It will likely come as a price though, taking you off the faster racing line. But if implemented properly, using water to cool your overheated engine could result in a Burnout-style constant nitro, encouraging racers to explore dangerous waters in order to stay ahead of the pack.
"Water is a significant new technology and has a big impact on driving tactics - now that we're getting to know the PS3 better we can add features like this and not have any performance issues," explains Kershaw. "Boost is affected by the environment in a few 'cool' ways now."
Welcome to the jungle
The jungle stages could be the most impressive. The central area of the map is likely to hide the most dynamic of the 16 tracks on offer, as they will feature fully destructible trees and foliage, if you have the right vehicle. The multi-route idea that made MotorStorm such a refreshing change is back in a big way, as Kershaw puts it, "this is the DNA of MotorStorm and you'll see even more of it in the sequel. The new island environment has been perfect for this type of gameplay".