One could think of few development studios that have been quite as unfortunate as Sony’s Evolution Studios in recent times. The UK-based studio’s last game, MotorStorm Apocalypse was received well critically, but became a victim of the most unfortunate circumstances; its subject matter all to akin to the disaster that had affected Japan around that time, it was affected by numerous delays, purely out of respect, and even a cancellation in Japan. Most would agree then that they deserve a bit of success over there, and with MotorStorm RC for PlayStation 3 and Vita, it certainly seems they have achieved that.
A bite-sized take on the studios’ popular MotorStorm series, which debuted on the PlayStation 3, RC sees players take control of various, as the name aptly suggests, remote-controlled cars, as you take them around a series of tracks and events themed after the main series games’ settings. These settings include the vintage Monument Valley festival area from the first game, the sequel’s lush, tropical Pacific Rift setting, the PSP spin-off Arctic Edge’s icy peaks, and MotorStorm Apocalypse’s crumbling city.
The variation in tracks in MotorStorm RC is very impressive. Not only do the tracks look different and have a different style, they also handle differently too. The same car isn’t going to handle the same on Arctic Edge’s icy roads as it would on Pacifc Rift’s beach tracks, and you’ll have to adjust your strategy accordingly for the different settings, making the tracks as strategic as your driving. The different settings also do wonders for the game aesthetically, such a variety is infinitely welcome. The MotorStorm series has always been known for its stylistically different settings, and packing them all together in RC offers a wide visual variety ensuring the game’s looks never get boring.
Whether you’re playing the game on your PS Vita, or your PS3, the game looks fantastic – although you will notice some differentiation between the two games if you go from one to the other. Expectedly, the Vita version doesn’t look quite as crisp, with some of the track textures looking quite nondescript, particularly the ground textures. The Vita version is also prone to some stuttering as the framerate takes a hit in some of the more ambitious tracks, although it’s certainly nothing that detracts from the game’s overall quality. The Vita version also looks a tad saturated in comparison to its PS3 counterpart, the colours on which are stunningly vibrant. The Pacific Rift tracks in particular stand out visually, with the colours popping from the screen.
MotorStorm RC’s focus is very much on timing; ensuring you nail every corner with enough speed and control to grasp that extra millisecond that could see you go up multiple places on the leaderboard. With such a focus on perfection, an accurate control scheme is simply a necessity, and MotorStorm is a bit hit and miss in that department. When the controls worked, I was absolutely flying, and my name was firmly planted atop my friends leaderboard, but when they worked against me, I wanted to chuck my Vita/PS3 controller out the window and never see it again. Often the car will get thoroughly confused, and you’ll end up stuck, driving into a wall and driving your own head around the bend. The controls were very inconsistent, and the bad days were really bad.
Providing you get to grip with the controls, you’ll find a deeply rewarding racer here, full to the brim with content. There are 64 events in total, divided up between the four different settings, and these consist of multiple different race types, including hot laps (a.k.a. time trials), standard races, overtaking races – where you’re tasked with overtaking a set number of cars as quickly as possible, and drift events – where you’re tasked with attaining a set number of points as quickly as possible by drifting. The drift events seemed out-of-place in MotorStorm RC as the controls just didn’t suit the drift mechanics very well and they often became a chore.
You’ll want to persevere to get the best times you possibly can though; as well as offering three medal per each of the game’s 64 events, you’re also racing to better your friends’ times, and herein lies MotorStorm RC’s genius. In almost every event you participate in, the game will load in ghost times that your friends have posted to the leaderboards as lines that travel around the track as you race, giving you an incentive to not only obtain the best time to get three medals or to come first, but to make sure you finish quicker than your friend’s time. It’s a wonderful incentive to try again and again until you think you’ve done your best, and the instantaneous reloads mean that if you mess up, you’re never waiting to have another crack at it. It’s addictive gameplay at its absolute finest, and it really pushes home that one-more-go mentality that competitive sods like me have baked into our brains. You’ll never just be satisfied with getting the medals, that’s for sure.
If ghost times weren’t competition enough, you can also challenge your friends to beat a time you set, meaning you can rub it in their face when you beat their time, or utterly embarrass them by smashing a challenge they send you. All your best times are recorded on leaderboards for each individual event, as well as total times for each of the themed sets of events and an overall time that takes into account all your best times on every event. Not to mention the pitwall, where times from your friends will constantly updated, and it even gives you the option to launch directly from the pitwall. So if you see a time there and think “you know what, I could beat that!”, you’re only a button press away from launching that event. It’s clever on so may levels, and I really didn’t miss conventional competitive online multiplayer as the implementation of leaderboard focused competitive aspects is just brilliant.
Also included is the Playground, a hub area where you can try out all the different styles of cars, ranging from buggys to big rigs, which all handle very differently. The Playground can be used to get to grips with the handling of the various cars outside of a high pressure race setting. With basketball hoops to try to launch yourself into, a skate park area to try some jumps and even a mini football pitch with a giant football for you to play around with, there’s some good fun to be found there as well.
MotorStom RC is a must have for your PlayStation Vita, and a great game for any PS3 owners. To sweeten the deal, if you buy the PS Vita version you’ll get the PS3 version free, and vice versa, and at its low price it’s an absolute bargain. The astonishingly well implemented asynchronous multiplayer features, track variety and the sheer amount of content is staggering, and while the controls will take some getting used to and the Vita version is subject to a few technical hitches, you’d be positively stark raving bonkers not to pick this game up from the PlayStation Store. For Evolution, it’s the success the studio thoroughly deserves.