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5 Reviews

MotorStorm: Arctic Edge

Review: Every bit as angry and loud as its big brother

MotorStorm and its Pacific Rift follow-up are some of the best-looking games you'll find on PS3. Pixel packed racing vistas, grids of psychotic opponents and the ever eclectic mix of vehicle-on-vehicle action make you question how PSP developer Bigbig Studios could ever hope to squeeze even a drop of their essence onto Sony's handheld. But they've done it - and Arctic Edge is angrier than a swarm of bees trapped in a jam jar that's been rolled down a hill.

Having games mags in the office tell us to "turn it down" is nothing new (we don't by the way) but when they tell us to turn down the PSP, you're laughing. From the moment the title screen pokes you in the eyes with its design agency-inspired funky pink interface the game roars furiously through those PSP peephole speakers. Plug in headphones and you won't hear two trains collide.

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Anyone who's played MotorStorm on PS3 will know that it's purely raw racing rather than dicking about tuning, upgrading, going for licenses and sticking to the racing line. Tracks aren't really tracks in MotorStorm. They're huge multi-terrain environments that would suit a first-person shooter as much as they do a racer. This element was the first thing we thought would be trimmed down to handheld size but Bigbig has surprised us again.

Each track has got just as many ways round it as each race has different vehicles. You'll be boosting along ready to drift into a tight corner only to go wide, slide off the track, plough through the undergrowth and find another route you didn't know was there. It's exactly the same as the PS3 version.

Arctic Edge has also got all the familiar track variations too. So a lighter vehicle might hit the ramp and fly over the main track to miss the monster truck and mudplugger pile up. But if you're a heavier kind of racer you could just stick to the trenches and drive over any ATV or quad bike foolish enough to get in your way.

The default control scheme has you using the R button to accelerate, L to brake and X to boost, which might sound odd but works quite well. We also found ourselves using the dpad more than the analogue stick, though this was just for comfort reasons rather than anything else. The feeling of a lack of speed is also present, but once you tune your thinking to the game it all makes sense. And you can still blow yourself across the finish line for giggles.

Content-wise you're getting massive value for money too. There are 100 events to compete in across the main single-player campaign. And because the tracks are massive, the fact that there are only 12 doesn't really enter the equation. These new tracks have been modelled on snowy 'Alaskan' landscapes so expect the likes of mountain passes, ice caves, ice bridges, bobsleigh tracks and other sub-zero hazards (including the odd avalanche) to traverse. The PSP version's got all the boosting of the PS3 series too (even if it is a little slower) and ploughing into snowdrifts will cool your jets.

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In another tip of the hat to the developer's technical prowess, each track is not only filled with numerous paths to the finish line, but there are also a number of weather conditions to battle. A new environmental setting (and game) also demands new vehicles and Arctic Edge sees the debut of the Snow Cat, Snow Plow, Snow Machine and Snowplugger. These should be your vehicles of choice for particularly snowy tracks as they have better grip. But all the usual suspects are in there and we found ourselves relying on the rally car. Each to their own though.

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