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Demo Impressions: MotorStorm Apocalypse
by Tom Acres

The MotorStorm series has been one of Sony's flagship first-party franchises since the launch of the PlayStation 3 in 2006. When the original game debuted alongside the console, it wowed players with its truly stunning visuals and brutal off-road racing. In 2008, the sequel Pacific Rift was released and added some real substance to the solid groundwork of the original game, and introduced a new setting in the form of a tropical island. Now, having been through the canyons and the tropics, MotorStorm: Apocalypse is heading to the city space as Mother Nature wreaks havoc upon Earth with earthquakes and plenty else, creating the perfect racing environment. As the game nears release, I checked out the demo to see what we can expect from the third outing in the series.

The demo allows you to play a standard race with fifteen AI competitors and sit behind the wheel of either a super-car or a super-bike as you speed through the Mainline track. As with presumably all the tracks in the main game, Mainline is explosive to say the least. Starting in an underground train track, the landscape also sees you drive across urban canyons caused by the natural disaster that has taken place, as well as along some of the destroyed roads and bridges. As the race develops, the track suffers even more deformation as towers and bridges collapses, alternate routes become available, buildings explode and plenty else. All these effects look stunning for sure, but they also have a significant impact on the race in a way similar to Split/Second. You can't trigger these events at will, but they are no less stunning whenever they occur.

Actually racing in Apocalypse is pretty similar to the prior games in the series and I doubt fans would have it any other way. The sense of speed is still impressive, the handling is also still pretty forgiving and the turbo boost is still always available for you to scrape vital seconds off your lap times. At this stage there's little I can really say about the gameplay; in these standard race terms after a few races on the same track it seems just as fun as ever and will no doubt keep veterans happy both online and off.

What deserves more attention than anything else after my time with the demo is the stunning graphics. Textures on the track and the vehicles are all fantastic and everything is brilliantly detailed. The explosions, collapsing buildings, fire and smoke effects are all convincing and look like they were pulled straight from 2012. It's also well worth mentioning how impressive the 3D effect is in Apocalypse. Having spent time playing Killzone 3, Gran Turismo 5 and Super Stardust HD in 3D, it's easy for me to say that Apocalypse is by far the best 3D gaming experience I've had. Playing the demo in 3D, viewing the action through the first-person bonnet view as rubble and fire fly towards you is a truly adrenaline pumping experience. If you have a 3DTV, this might finally be the game to get you excited about the prospects of PS3 gaming in 3D.

The audio package seems equally impressive thus far, with a similar rock themed soundtrack as heard in prior games and plenty of impressive environmental sounds and vehicles crashing into each other. Just from the demo alone it's obvious that Apocalypse will give your home theatre system a serious workout.

Overall, my time with the demo has been positive, with plenty of impressive moments littered throughout what is only a very small portion of what fans can look forward to. The core racing is just as exciting as ever, whilst the new setting and stunning 3D look set to make Apocalypse one of the most visually breathtaking game on PS3. With plenty of online and offline modes promised, there's sure to be plenty to get excited about as the game's launch approaches.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse's UK release was delayed (due to the earthquake in Japan) from its original 16 March date to March 31st, and should be currently be on store shelves. Its North American release date is yet to be specified. Be sure to check our sister site SystemLink for updates on that NA release.

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- Tom Acres

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