Motorstorm Pacific Rift
PlayStation 3 from 14.99
The action gets underway quickly in Motorstorm and never slows up. It's easy to get going with the game and have fun from the start. Difficulty increases on a sensible curve with none of those sticking points that make you want to throw the controller at the screen.
This is a sizeable game with many involving and highly detailed tracks in four different environments; from misty mountain tops to baked volcanic circuits with rivers and pools of lava to jump over. Each location has a number of different lines to take some suited only to particular types of bike, car, buggy or truck so there's a bit of the free-roaming 'sandbox' feel to the game.
Fantastic you almost feel as if you need to wipe the mud from your eye after the start of the first race. Besides mud and water from spinning wheels, effects include mist, steam, heat vapour and the brilliant play of light and shadow through lush jungle scenes. It's a treat to watch slow-motion crashes, with the highly detailed vehicles disintegrating into lots of different parts, but you'll soon skip past this to get on with the action.
Suspension, steering and dynamics feel realistic enough, but the rest is fantasy. Wash wide and plunge off a cliff into the sea? Miss the landing and melt away into the lava? No matter what, you'll just be placed back on the track to continue your challenge. Jumps are utterly implausible you can even 'steer' mid-leap but overall, Motorstorm is too much fun for all that to matter one jot.
Off- and online
Computer-controlled opponents are aggressively dogged and will give you a serious run for the winner's laurels. Rival bikers will hit out to try and knock you from your bike a move that you can perform, too while four-wheeled opponents will push you off the racing line (and into a rock face if need be). Online racing worked well on our test rig and we could find ranked and unranked races to enter reasonably quickly.