Previews

Motorstorm Apocalypse

Hands-on: Shaking the foundations...

Being one of the first titles to arrive with the launch of the PS3, you could say Motorstorm was always in a prime position to make a big impact.

In the end though it was pretty presentation, a challenging but satisfying learning curve and downright dirty speed and intensity that kicked the franchise into the 'must have' club of the next generation of gaming.

Motorstorm Pacific Rift continued the trend of beautiful vistas and break-neck speed and added more vehicle and a customising options to boot. It was prettier and just as entertaining as its predecessor, but ultimately felt like a makeover rather than a full on sequel.

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The job then for the third child in the Motorstorm family, lovingly christened 'Apocalypse', is to blow the house down - and that image is actually more appropriate than you might think.

The end is nigh
Motorstorm Apocalypse is being billed by its creators as "The ultimate party at the end of the world". The clue is in the name, but this isn't the usual post-apocalyptic angle; the third in the series has racers speeding through an urban landscape as it falls all around you - and sometimes on top of you.

The setting is an abandoned city in the west of the United States which has been hit by a massive earthquake, forcing everyone to leave. Of course, when everyone else leaves, that's when the Motorstorm nuts decide it's time to turn up to the party, never mind the fact that the earthquake is still nowhere near finished.

This is how Evolution Studios has managed to create what game director Matt Southern calls "urban off-road racing", something which a dedicated council and slick highway maintenance operations should render impossible.

Nothing's off limits in Apocalypse though as we found when we were spit through the starting gate of our first race.

Ramming into the guy to our left, we force him off the road and leave him for dead. A small victory until we see a skyscraper cracking, bending, groaning and ultimately collapsing onto the road ahead. We slide to one side and make it through the gap left between the fallen building and an adjacent one that's managed to take some of the weight.

The race has only just begun; we're already boosting our way to cheek flapping speeds, a building has just toppled to the ground and now we can't see a thing thanks to the dust and debris it's left behind.

It's here we realise that Motorstorm Apocalypse is just as much about survival as it is about winning a race. There's more adrenaline in the opening seconds of this single pre-alpha race than there was in the last two games combined.

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There's no rest-bite either and with all the carnage constantly unfolding, you'll almost forget about the other racers and see yourself as going toe-to-toe with the city itself.

But that's not all you have to worry about. The doomed metropolis is still occupied by rioters (who don't like you and will throw Molotov cocktails and wrecking balls in your path) and PMC's (who don't like you and will open fire at every opportunity). Basically everything in this world is stacked against the racers, making this the most extreme sport in the world.

You'll be lucky if you manage to stay on the road as well; Soon enough the concrete gives way and we fall into an underground car park, which inconveniently starts to crumble as well.

And that's not all, Evolution gave us a quick and choppy look at some of the other levels we'd be racing in the full version, inclduing office buildings and even down the side of a sky-scraper as it falls. Insanity doesn't even come close.

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