December 19th, 2006, 23:43 Posted By: wraggster
If you're desperate to get your hands on MotorStorm, you might have considered importing the Japanese version of the game. Well I'm here to save you fifty bucks with a quick mental exercise.
First, power up your PS3, go into the PlayStation Store, and download that impressive MotorStorm demo that everyone has been talking about. Play it, taking note of a few areas in particular -- the title screen, with the rolling video in the background, the festival mode, which uses "tickets" to stand for racing events, the car select screen, which likes to keep you waiting while it loads up new car models, and so forth. Now (and here comes the mental part), close your eyes and picture that exact same demo, but with the following:
1. More video in the background during the title screen.
2. A set of six high definition movies under the movie section of the main menu. Included is a neat little look at how Motorstorm has progressed from an early demo featuring rough polygonal cars, to its not-so-final shape in the Japanese release, and a live action flythrough of Monument Valley, the setting for the game.
3. A bunch of additional racing tickets, some locked away until you've cleared the easier events.
4. An additional selection screen prior to some races that allows you to select a type of car. This allows you to, as just one example, drive a truck in a race full of motorcycles. I don't think I need to let you know what happens next.
5. A few additional effects to make an already pretty game even prettier.
Got all that? Congratulations! You've just imagined the final Japanese version of Motorstorm.
Based on its Japanese release (and I'll remind you that the version I'm writing about isn't the one that's due out in the West), Motorstorm is the most featureless racer I've ever played. There are only a couple of options, for adjusting the sound and screen and switching the motion sensor controls on and off. Missing are options for adjusting the number of opponents and track count, and such standard modes such as free run and time attack.
The game doesn't even have any form of multiplayer racing. While we knew about the lack of online in the Japanese version, there's no multiplayer what-so-ever, not even split screen!
Motorstorm also shipped to Japan with some of the glaring problems from the demo still in place. Load times prior to the start of a race can take up to 45 seconds. Car selection requires that you wait for new car models to load up, and you can't even see your car's stats on the selection screen (the stats are available in the manual). It's exactly like the demo, and is unacceptable for a final product.
The PS3 is software starved in Japan (since launch, there have been only two mahjong games, and I, the reigning mahjong champion of Northeast India, have no need for the digital variety), so I put up with the missing features and spent the weekend playing Motorstorm's racing events. And sure enough, I agree with the glowing impressions our boys in Europe have previously posted here at IGNPS3. The driving component of Motorstorm is a blast to play. You've never played a racing game quite like this, where the type of car you select can totally change the feel of the course, where the bumps and other obstacles that line the course are more of a challenge than your opponent racers, and where each lap can be raced on a different path. As I played, I found myself thinking that no two races are ever alike, and every race is better than the last.
Motorstorm is also the first real proof of the PS3's true technical prowess (Resistance provided just a few hints). The game manages to deliver sharp detail up close for the cars and tracks, along with distant views full of extraneous details, including lots of waving banners. And beneath all that is an impressive simulation of 20 cars interacting with the track. While a few shortcomings get in the way, including the occasional unfortunate camera angle during replays, a bit of slowdown here and there, and mud effects that need a bit of work, this is the most technically impressive game I've ever played.
And it will likely be even more impressive once Evolution Studios finishes up development. Motorstorm was clearly not ready for its Japanese debut, and considering how poorly non-Japanese games tend to sell in the Japanese market, we're not sure why Sony wasted the team's precious time on rushing the Japanese release. We look forward to playing the real version of Motorstorm early next year, and, based on the preview provided by the Japanese version, fully expect it to be one of the finest racing experiences ever.
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