Motorstorm has never been about depth or nuance. It's about going fast, learning the track and hitting that boost button at the right time. Get it wrong and you'll likely be mashed into the side of a cliff, wrapped around a palm tree or pulled down a canyon by your old, relentless foe - gravity.
Of course, that's when we were racing in wilderness. With every off-road terrain from dust and mud to snow and ice covered in the Motorstorm series, the team over at Evolution Studios must have wondered where to take the bumpy racer for a third showing on console.
An urban environment looked like the only uncharted land left, but smooth tarmac doesn't really provide the rough ride Motorstorm racers are used to. The answer, then, was to shake that nicely laid tarmac up a bit with a city-levelling earthquake. Obviously.
Make no mistake, this is the most reckless Motorstorm to date by a long, long way. If you're looking for fast paced, extreme arcade racing, it doesn't really get more ridiculous and over the top. The premise is simple: it's the Motorstorm racing you know and love, but at the epicentre of an quake in a West Coast, high rise American city.
Apocalypse is a game very much built around the value of sheer spectacle, and that philosophy is established right from the start. You're brought into the game with some slick opening credits set to a stylised animated sequence full of silhouettes of racers and buildings jolting to the ground. The accompanying music gives the overall package a late '80s US cop drama feel, but manages to dodge being dated with some 21st Century cinematics.
The cartoon style carries on throughout the whole of Festival - the game's main campaign. This includes the addition of a narrative played out in comic-book cutscenes - similar, but a heck of a lot brighter, than Sucker Punch's InFamous.
The storyline focuses on three characters who you'll take control of throughout the Festival; The Rookie, The Pro and The Veteran. The latter also features throughout, giving you tips and generally acting all tough 'n' whatnot.
Obviously, the trio represent three stages of difficulty, make the whole campaign feel a bit less faceless. The storyline tries to add a bit more background and personality to the racing too. (The little Rookie even gets himself into an awkward little crush of sorts). Ultimately, though, you're here to race - and will probably find yourself, like us, skipping to the action more often than not.
Truth is, once you're in the four-wheeled showdown itself, you won't care whose behind your wheel - characterisation, narrative and that obligatory love interest all go out the window. What does matter, as always, is the vehicle you're racing. New to the game are supercars, superbikes, muscle cars, hot hatches and choppers (as in the Easy Rider motorbikes, not the Arnie helicopters).
The stand-out addition is by far the superbike; its speed is immense and its handling is incredibly forgiving. You barely have to break, even around tight corners, as your rider leans right into the corner skidding almost on a pin-head. You could argue it allows for too many slip-ups, but the amount of control makes you feel like an absolute demon on the debris and it's definitely the most exhilarating vehicle in the game.
Other vehicles provide various amounts of driving pleasure. We still like the Big Rig, for example. It's supposed to be sturdy yet cumbersome, but it's actually quite pacey and its extra weight keeps it controlled through the corners. That's very unlike the ATV, which is incredibly floaty and light at times making it difficult to keep on track.