MotorStorm Musings (A Little Evolution)…

motorstorm_cover.JPG So, Evolution Studios has finally gotten its name on the lips of many US gamers who’ve wrapped their mitts around a SIXAXIS and taken MotorStorm for a spin. Granted, the game doesn’t look EXACTLY like the infamous ‘is it live or is it CG’ trailer shown at E3 last year, but it’s still a true ‘next-gen’ experience in terms of showing off the system’s power. I’m probably one of a few people who knew as soon as they saw the footage in question that the developer’s PS3 debut wouldn’t be anything but spectacular, thanks to their very first game, 2001’s, WRC (World Rally Championship) on the PlayStation 2…

WRC_cover.JPG That particular game was developed by Evolution and published in Europe by SCEE and Japan by Spike, but oddly enough, SCEA passed on the game. In my reptile brain, I’m thinking it’s since they already had a rally experience as part of Gran Turismo 3, they didn’t want to draw attention away from that game’s merits. It was eventually picked up by bam! entertainment and released with possibly the most generic cover “art” i’ve ever seen. Inside the case, however, the game was a major surprise, offering up one of the best rally games on the console. Where GT3 was a better looking game in terms of its indestructible cars, WRC’s cars got dirty and dented during events. The realistic headlight action on the night courses, stunning camerwork in the replay mode and more driving viewpoints (including two in car driving views!) kept that game in my PS2 for weeks as i went through each difficulty level.

Reviews for the game were excellent worldwide, but given the seemingly small print run and lack of marketing in the US, the game pretty much vanished into obscurity soon after its release. Overseas, however, the FIA folks were busy working with the developer on a sequel. Evolution followed that up with WRC II Extreme, a far better sequel that added more realism and improved visuals. Then there was WRC Arcade, a bouncy UK-only PSone title Evolution didn’t develop that was closer to Sega Rally in terms of gameplay, but true fans of the original game didn’t care much for it.

Neither game made it to the US, nor did the even more outstanding WRC 3 and WRC 4, but Japan got them. If you happen to own a Japanese PS2, you can probably snag all of these games from an importer like NCS or even hit eBay if you’re willing to grow a few grey hairs while hoping you’re not outbid. Having been lucky enough to play or see all of these games in action, as soon as I’d heard that Evolution was doing an off-road game for the PS3, I was ecstatic. I was even more ecstatic (and equally dismayed) when I found out that in 2005, Evolution did WRC Rally Evolved, a fifth entry in the series released only in Europe that truly pushed the PS2 to its limits. I suppose I could move to London just to buy and play the game, but I’d most likely be run over by a bus driving on the right side of the road while on the way to a game shop.
Which, painfully but happily leads us back to the game in question, MotorStorm: it’s brilliant. Short on the single player content, hard as hell, no licensed cars and sorry, kids… NO splitscreen whatsoever. But still, it’s brilliant nonetheless. Now all we need is for Evolution to make a WRC game that gets released here and I could die a happy man. Go read my review (er, once it’s posted later this week) and track down a copy of that PS2 WRC game while you’re at it…

About the Author