Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Review: MotorStorm- Arctic Edge

With MotorStorm- Arctic Edge, PSP gamers are getting exactly what the title promises; a Motorstorm game.

Featuring three versions of eight vehicle types, the drivable roster is nice for a portable title. Thrown into the usual mix of motorcycles and buggies are the exclusive snow plows and snowmobiles. They control different enough from the rest of the vehicles to warrant inclusion (aside from the whole “arctic” angle) and are a lot of fun to drive.

Vehicles are quite customizable now, so you can sink a nice chunk of time into making every ride in your garage look exactly how you want it to. Your rider, too, is slightly customizable.

But enough about that. Racing fans just wants to know how well the gameplay works and the answer to that is “surprisingly well.”

Except for the motorcycles and a few smaller cars, which can feel a little too slippery in the control department, Arctic Edge handles well. Each vehicle offers a slightly different feel, so finding the right ride for you is part of the fun. Each course, too, is made up of multiple routes best suited to the various vehicle types, so even the act of getting around the track offers lots of options.

And what about those tracks? They’re great. Crammed with 12 unique courses (24 if you count reversed), Arctic Edge is full of high jumps, tight corners, narrow valleys and edge-of-the-cliff straightaways.

Graphically, everything looks great on the small screen. The tracks move higher and higher up the mountain, so the atmosphere varies between rocky landscapes to muddy hillsides and on up to seemingly gigantic snow-covered chunks of ice.

A couple extra added features, like slippery ice, a boost cooling effect when driving through deep snow and the ability to cause an avalanche in certain areas, keeps the series decently fresh.

While the main campaign hosts a ton of regular races and special events, riders can also free-race and take the game online via ad-hoc and infrastructure modes. There aren’t a lot of people online, sadly, but when you can get a game going, everything runs smooth.

There’s also a ton of badges to collect for achieving various conditions, a screen capture mode and the ability to add any song on your memory stick to the already impressive soundtrack.

Despite all of this, I do feel the game lacks a little something. It’s hard to put into words, but the word “soul” comes to mind. This is, in my mind, the best arcade racing you can find on a portable, but I never really felt like I was taking part in some huge, insane racing event so much as tackling one track after the other with little pomp and circumstance.

Apart from that, there’s plenty here to keep racing fans excited. Lots of modes, lots of courses with lots of alternate routes, loads of vehicles and a ton of fun.

If you own a PSP and like to race, you won’t be disappointed. Big Big Studios have managed to almost perfectly recreate an experience for the portable market you could only have on consoles before now.

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