Motorstorm, the Mad Max off road carnage racing game with little rules is back, but should you bother jumping behind the wheel? We find out.



Following on from the console-launching original, Motorstorm Pacific Rift offers the same hardcore racing action as the first version. It's still mad capped, still as fast, and still as luscious to look at.

This time around the action, which sees you driving a range of vehicles as fast as you can around various tracks to be crowned champion racer, has moved from the dust bowls of the Grand Canyon to a Pacific island - hence the name - and the 16 tracks are based over four different areas: Earth, Air, Water and Fire, around the island.

As you can imagine the water tracks are down on the beach, the air up in the hills and the fire around an active volcano. Earth levels are set in the jungle.

The different areas all come with their own positives and setbacks and rather than a linear course, all the tracks have a variety of ways they can be completed depending on the vehicle you are driving. The lighter the vehicle the higher you should go, but just like the first outing, in practice it doesn't really work like that. You're just trying to stay in one piece.

Most of the vehicles from the first outing are back, so that means everything from ATVs to rally cars, buggies, bikes, racing trucks, mudpluggers and big rigs. Adding to the mix this time around is a monster truck that can climb, sprint and roll over any other vehicle in the way.

All the vehicles have different strengths and weaknesses so the bikes are super agile but one nudge from a passing opponent and you'll go flying. Likewise the trucks are mean as anything but unlikely to make the big jumps.

Rather than worry about damage it's really just a case of you’re fine or you’re not. Crashes, which all happen in slow-mo, see you reset back on the course and crashes cost you nothing but time and normally a couple of race places.

All vehicles have a boost mode to speed things up. Press the boost button for too long and you'll blow up, however this time around you can stop your booster from overheating by finding some water to drive through to cool it down: it certainly helps. To counter-balance this, however, drive through some lava and it will make it hotter. Ultimately you've got to use it wisely depending on the course you are on else you'll be exploding every couple of seconds.

Offline races see you battle 15 other AI racers; take the action online and you'll get to play against 11 others in casual or ranked games. For the home parties there is 4-player split screen action as well.

When the first version came out the graphics were stunning, 18 months later and the developers clearly haven't sat on their laurels. The Pacific island the game is set on is equally impressive on the graphics front, more so because it actually interacts with the action. Burn your way through a puddle or stream and your screen is drenched in water. Likewise dirt and mud have equal effects and by the end, on some courses, you’ll be wishing you had windscreen wipers.

Verdict

While on the surface Motorstorm is just more of the same, there are plenty of new elements here to warrant owners of the first version grabbing a copy.



The AI has been vastly improved so it's actually possible to achieve something if you have a faulty start, and the new tracks and scenery are stunning - it's just a shame you don't hang around for long to enjoy it.

Races aren't overly long, you aren't bogged down with customisations and car development and there are enough vehicles and tracks variations to keep it constantly fresh.

While this style of racing won't appeal to the F1 style driver, Burnout Paradise drivers looking for a bit of rough and tumble should definitely check this out.