MotorStorm Pacific Rift roars off the starting line with a glimpse of the setting which surrounds this new intense off-road racing game. A luscious island full of sand, trees, grass, volcanic rock, water and so much more. As the intro states, it's a place "born from fire, shaped by the elements, claimed by nature and abandoned by man... until now."
No man is an island
The "now" is where MotorStorm Pacific Rifts dwells - there's no room for fear, regret or timid driving. This is full on, in your face racing that sprays you with its mud and dirt of authenticity. Evolution Studios' rampant racer is primed with energy, fuel injecting you into its world of danger and splendour.
Once you've picked your driver and his or her attire, you're enveloped into the festival of the MotorStorm experience, where bass heavy music, partying and fast vehicles are all the rage. Bikes, rally cars, big rigs, and even monster trucks are the weapons of choice across eight vehicle classes, and 16 tracks, separated into four different Zones depending on the predominant feature of the island they're on - Earth, Air, Fire and Water - is where the driving battle commences.
The island is utterly convincing, with lush waterfalls, vegetation that reacts to you, variable weather and light conditions, lavish vistas, beautiful sunsets, dusky beaches, vibrant forests and other environments that evolve races into unpredictable adventures.
A multiple course meal
Each course had its own hazards or benefits depending on your vehicle. For example, bikes will take full advantage of high ground and narrow spaces thanks to their speed, while water, mud and even relatively flimsy corn stalks become problems. On the other end of the scale, a monster truck can see you plough through most vegetation and obstacles, yet its weight and size will force it to fall right through rickety bridges and grind to a halt in anything but the widest of spaces.
Because of these factors, complimented by a wide variation of races (such as the tense and exhilarating Eliminator, where the last placed driver is removed after a repeated countdown, until only one racer remains), track type and routes, each lap can feel substantially different from the last. New short cuts are created as the heavier machines smash through brittle parts of the course and your opponents adapt to the changing requirements of the race.
All this and the incredible sense of speed helps MotorStorm Pacific Rift feel real. Rivals make mistakes and crash into surroundings, bigger vehicles will bully smaller ones, who in turn try to avoid being crushed. Tactics and judgment are as essential as quick reactions, and there's a wonderful sense of fairness in each race that can see you make up ground from a bottom 16th place to a leading position thanks to taking full advantage of your environment and vehicle type. And should you wish to add even more chaos to the mix, up to four players can race split screen, while 16 can go head-to-head online.
The drive of your life
Its spectacular driving dynamics are matched by some equally spectacular visual details which sees doors fly open, bits fly off cars, the elements spray and splash on your screen as much as they do on the vehicles themselves, and tracks explode into light before dimming when you first see them, subtly mimicking the effect it would have on your eyes if you were really there.
Compelling, and fun, MotorStorm Pacific Rift is a well rounded thrill a minute ride that will have you burning rubber, exhaust and many, many hours through its exhilarating gameplay and sparkling presentation. Evolution Studios has created another example of how to inject sheer passion into racing without sacrificing great gameplay. This is one ‘Storm you'll never want to end.