MotorStorm Arctic Edge Review
Tuesday, October 20, 2009 12:39 PM
MotorStorm Arctic Edge brings extreme and frozen racing to the PSP.
Hey dude, do you like, dig loud music? Do you wish you were an adrenaline junkie heading for an early grave, careering around a danger-laden racetrack in a series of quirky vehicles? Do you love watching gnarly crashes?
Do you like, dig loud music? If you do, dude, you'd better be playing Motorstorm: Arctic Edge, because it's like totally the sickest extreme sports/racing hybrid ever, man!
For the rest of us who don't quite fit in with that niche (or are 'cool' enough to use the correct lingo), Motorstorm: Arctic Edge is initially an in-your-face eruption of noise and images from the very moment the title screen appears.
BAM! Select your track! BAM! Select your vehicle! BAM! Press the X Button to confirm! And so on. I've never witnessed a game that tries so hard to hold the attention of those people with short attention spans.
It can all be a bit full on, and that's before you've even started a race! However, once you've got accustomed to all this flashy sh*t, what you're left with is a frenetically satisfying pick up and play racer.
Half of this gameplay comes from the track design alone. Like its console brethren, Arctic Edge has taken the 'multiple routes to win' school of thought and implemented it successfully. Diversions and shortcuts are constantly offered up to the player, meaning that if you take too long making a decision, the only thing you'll be heading for is an icy wall, or even a sheer drop off a precipice.
Ascertaining the fastest route for the kind of vehicle you're in is an achievement that only comes with many attempts, and the twelve courses that make up Arctic Edge are all repeated enough in the campaign to enable you to find your ideal path.
The courses themselves are all thematically linked (unsurprisingly), but contain enough essential variation to mean that Arctic Edge is no walk in the park. They range from the easy-does-it 'Wolfpack Mountain' to the bloody impossible 'The Chasm'.
As you rank up, earning points, new vehicles and upgrades along the way, you'll find that the tracks will alter subtly to match the difficulty curve. This is evident in checkpoint races, where you're steered along a pre-determined route instead of a free-riding free-for-all. The initial races are easy, but in the higher ranks you're forced to swerve, skid and slide your way through uncompromising corners and over potentially crash-worthy jumps.
And that's before you've even hit the boost button. This burst of speed is pretty much a necessity in all races, and as soon as it's charged you'll find your relevant finger welded to the button throughout each playthrough. Be careful not to overdo it though, as this will lead to the untimely explosion of your automobile!
Driving through snow or ice water will cool your jets quicker than releasing the boost button but that still doesn't mean you can go hell for leather, as you will...you've guessed it... explode.
If you've ever felt bored with motocross, ATV or racing games sticking too firmly to their guns; never fear, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is here to please everybody! You can pilot automobiles from most extreme sports disciplines, and even ones that would not be normally seen in such events.
Giant trucks and caterpillar tracked snowmobiles come into play here, bashing almost every other vehicle to exploding point, and due to the failings of Arctic Edge (explained below) they become a force to be reckoned with in nearly every race.
My main gripe with this game is the inconsistencies in vehicle handling. The small snow buggies seem to drive like shopping trolleys, whilst the big tonka trunks glide around the track like a bloody ballet dancer.
The statistics given with each machine also seem a bit pointless as their actual performance appears to vary wildly depending on what track you select. Thankfully, once you've figured out which vehicles are race-winners and which aren't, you can still achieve wins aplenty.
Multiplayer is very competent, if slightly laggy online. Not that this factor dampens the fun at all. Moreover, with both ad-hoc and online modes (seemingly a rarity in PSP games) boasted there's potential for a limitless amount of competitive fun.
A last minor, very minor problem is that some of the 20 songs that make up the default soundtrack occur too often during normal races, and after a few days of play you really begin to grow weary of bumping into that same Pendulum track (for example). This can be adjusted anyway in the options menu, but as MotorStorm is such a complete package, it felt correct to nitpick as there honestly aren't many negatives to find in the actual game.
But in the end, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge will only be overlooked by people who're not prepared to tolerate the whizz-bang atmosphere of the extreme racing genre. But we advise everyone to cast aside their aspersions because Arctic Edge is a game packed full of content, well rounded and gratifying in both single-player and multiplayer modes. It'll never be taken seriously, but hell, it sure is