After dominating dusty canyon circuits and muddy jungle trails on the PS3, the MotorStorm lunatics jump platforms to the PSP and make their next stop in the Arctic Circle. Will this racer get your heart pumping, or just leave you in the cold?
MotorStorm's main festival mode takes you through a rising spiral of increasing challenges. Earning medals in each race rewards you with points, and as you reach benchmarks, you'll unlock higher ranks of competition. Some races also present additional challenges, such as completing races within specific times or maintaining a first-place lead, and completing those awards you with stars used to unlock extra events.
Ten-driver races make up the bulk of the experience, but there are a couple other variants, too. Speed races run you through checkpoints to keep a countdown timer from hitting zero and give you a great tour through each course's branching routes. In time-tickers, you're placed in a group of four racers and rack up points based on your position, with victory going to the first driver to max out on points. You can also set up custom races or boot up courses for time trials, and up to six can compete online. There's no replay function, but you can take photos of your gnarliest wrecks and share them with friends.
The courses in Arctic Edge take are designed around an assortment of polar settings; you race through muddy logging towns, slide over cracked glaciers, and dip through torch-lit caverns. There are 12 tracks in all, with multiple paths full of huge jumps and twisting half-pipes. The vehicle selection is composed of eight different classes, ranging from ATVs to big rigs, and Arctic Edge introduces speedy snowmachines and massive snowcats, both of which excel in powder-covered terrain.
Arctic Edge offers a fairly complete package, but the extreme nature of the series is just begging for a few more creative event types to add some variety to the main festival.
Arctic Edge does a great job of preserving the motorized mayhem of the PS3 titles. The crowded courses and rough terrain create a cocktail primed for explosive collisions, and crashing is part of the fun, since you respawn and get back on course with little delay. Boosting is crucial to success as you rocket through mud and over enormous jumps. You'll use your boost almost constantly, but knowing when to ease up is essential, lest you overheat and explode or smash headfirst into a tight corner. Part of the strategy lies in driving through water or patches of deep snow to cool your engine, but since the white stuff is everywhere, it can take a while to learn which patches are thick enough to do the job.
Handling in Arctic Edge is generally fast and loose, but varies greatly depending on your vehicle selection. Bikes and ATVs are easier to steer, while big trucks can simply muscle competition off the road. The large-treaded snowcats are easily the bulkiest of the bunch, practically requiring you to use the e-brake to navigate sharp corners. The smaller snowmachines breeze over snow, but the skis in front have a tendency to spin the vehicle around if you aren't careful.
In addition to massive jumps, Arctic Edge adds half-pipes and ice bridges to the extreme terrain, giving you chances to drive up walls or over narrow shortcuts. The fragile ice bridges crumble under the weight of heavy vehicles, but with enough speed, truck drivers can make it across and deprive rivals behind them in the process. For all the attention given to the freezing climate, however, driving on glaciers and ice fields doesn't have much effect on handling. So don't expect to witness any additional carnage from cars sliding out of control.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge is yet another surprising example of how much developers can get out of the PSP. With 10 cars on-track and a wide field of view, there's always a lot happening on-screen, and the exhilaration of driving through extreme conditions is augmented by fog banks, flurries of snow, and clumps of dirt. There's even a bit of terrain deformation as you carve deep ruts into the mud and snow.
The locations display a lot of character and attention to detail, with a wide variety of textures and background elements like flags and hot air balloons. The soundtrack also fits the franchise's fast and frantic pace, with selections from Prodigy, The Hives, and The Chemical Bros.
In all, MotorStorm has lost little in its transition to the PSP. Arctic Edge may not have the eye-popping HD visuals of its PS3 counterparts, but it continues the franchise's frenzied attitude, which makes for a great racer on the go.
Reviewed on Sony PSP.