Evolution Studios, the creators of MotorStorm and, well, aside from that and WRC, not much else. But that’s OK, because they are good at it, there isn’t much need to go into other things right now, right?
MotorStorm RC, although still a racing game, is a large departure from anything they have done previously. While their other racing games have always been from traditional camera angles; Hood, in-car, rear, etc. This game is seen entirely from a isometric angle. Harking in games of old like Super Off-Road, and closer to the fantastic Rock and Roll Racing for the SNES.
So, with the change in play style, camera, and the shrinking of the MotorStorm franchise into a 5-inch screen (or, whatever size your TV is if you are playing on the PS3.) Does Evolution Studios pull it off?
The menu system used by the game was, at first glimpse, confusing and not my favorite part of the game. After some additional use and time to get use to it, it became second nature to whiz through them, quicker selecting a different car or another course to start. Everything in set up in a single row of selections, making a selection will zoom into the next screen, revealing another single row of things to select. Like I mentioned, at first it was easy to get lost in all the windows that have a very similar look and feel. But once you got use to the details of each new screen, it was easy to quickly back out of a game and zoom into a new track. They are fast moving and have no load times which was nice. I wish that speed and quickness was worked into the actual loading of the game.
While not a slow loading game by any means, when you first turn it on, it does take it’s sweet ass time to get to the actual menu screen. I get that companies want to display their mark on what they have created. And I’m absolutely fine with that for console gaming. When you sit down for a console game, you are getting ready to be there a while, it’s kind of common sense that this isn’t going to be a quick game. But for mobile gaming, they really need to get out of the mindset that having 3 logo screens, a load screen, the title screen and THEN the menu system is a good thing. Please, just show the title screen with your logos taking up a hefty chunk of that screen real estate and next go to the menu system. This is a MOBILE GAME, we as the gamer, are starting this up to have a quick lap in-between tasks. We don’t want to take up 6minutes just to GET to the game. Ya following me, Camera Guy?
With the games isometric and distant view, I can safely say that it wouldn’t work on 3DS or the original PSP, on the PS3 screen it does look a lot better though. I’m playing it on the Vita though, which is just a high enough resolution that it’s not a strain on the eyes to play. Although, after some time, it does start to get to you. Detail wise, it’s not a bad looking game. The tracks are all nicely textured, when you can make out the specifics on the tiny, tiny cars, they look alright too. That’s really the ugliest part of the game. Even though the PS Vita has a nice, large screen, the games use of small vehicles makes to point out details and at some spots, decipher the direction the car is going. They try to remedy this with a large yellow arrow over the roof of the car to denote it’s direction. This happens when the camera is at an angle that hides the car behind objects. That’s right, the dynamic camera angle moves in such a way that sometimes, a discomforting amount of times actually, the car is hidden by objects or ramps on the course. You can use the “aerial” camera angle to fix this, moving the camera at a taller height and lower angle. This is my preferred angle, even though it makes the cars even smaller.
It’s broken. There, I said it. I’m going to be completely blunt here. The audio is just broken. Several problems persist in the games sound; for starters, the music is Dubstep. I won’t hide the fact that I absolutely dislike Dubstep, but I won’t open that can of worms. Traditionally, racing games shouldn’t have music playing while you are driving, it takes away from the important audio cues such as competitor vehicles closing and other things. For an isometric racer that doesn’t exist so music is OK. I personally just don’t think Dubstep works here.
“OK, so, you hate Dubstep, so what? Just turn off the music, you baby!” Yeah, I get it, and I did that, that only revealed the messed up audio hiding underneath the loud, obnoxious music. The game sounds as if it was recorded using multiple audio channels, but the game is forcing everything through 2. On a few maps the game simply won’t play more then 2 sounds at any given time. What this means is that the game is trying to play all the sounds that should play; Your engine, the competitors engines, the skidding of your tires and theirs, but it only has 2 channels to play all that through. Imagine this. You’re listening to music, a single guitar starts playing. Then a single bass pedal from the drums. Typically, this would build with a tom, a bass guitar, symbols, etc. until the whole band is playing, right? Now imagine after the guitar and bass pedal start playing. The guitarist has to stop in order for you to hear to Tom.. then the Bass pedal has to stop so you can hear the Bass Guitar… sounds shitty right? That is exactly what the game does. You hear your engine and one other. Then for no reason you stop hearing your engine to hear a skid from someone else’s car, which then stops unexpectedly to abruptly hear your cars engine again!. Yes, it’s bad experience all around, I’m hoping it’s fixed with a patch.
Even with the busted ass audio, the terrible Dubstep and the sometimes eye straining graphics, the game is still fun to play. The game does bring back memories of Ivan “Ironfist” Stewarts Super Off-Road Games from the early 90’s. The Game offers 2 different control schemes with the ability to change the button layout of both. One is pressing left and right to turn left and right (how about that shit!?), and the other is to point the stick in the direction you want the car to travel, kind of like controlling the Warthog in Halo. With the camera angle, though, that control scheme just doesn’t feel right to me. Also, by default, the throttle and brake are attached to the right stick. For much of the game I played like that, but later bound them to X and O, just feels better to me, although using the other stick isn’t a bad experience.
There isn’t a huge amount of content in the game, you’ll play a handful of tracks over and over again, and there doesn’t seem to be any difference in performance from one car to the next. Obviously, the different types of vehicles;superminis, buggy,big rig, and such all have different feels to them, but within their own category the only difference is the look. The game demands precision! rubbing against the wall is a huge detriment to your speed and on several occasions it will flip your car, nose first into the wall, stopping you in place. I get that is likely what an RC car will do, but it’s a giant annoyance. And when you are first starting off, that nuisance is likely going to make you want to stop playing. The games cutesy demeanor is likely to confuse some players when they actually get their hands on it. Achieving a Gold medal in the later tracks is pretty difficult. But it is worth sticking with if you like racing games.
The game is a nice little departure from the studios previous work and it does show that they can do other things, although still a racing game, it’s of a different style which is far removed from their previous work, showing diversity in their abilities. The fact that the game is free on the PS Vita is definitely a plus. I would honestly say that if it was going for $10 I would be hard pressed to buy it. There are a few things that just don’t sit well with me about the game. The broken audio for one is a let down. and obviously, the Dubstep. Just because it’s popular now, doesn’t mean in 2years everyone isn’t going to be looking back and going “…Yeah, except for the Dubstep, jesus!” Especially since, I personally feel, it doesn’t fit with the actual game. Aside from those though, and a few minor flaws, the overall gameplay still works well enough to make this a good game to have, especially if you miss those old top-down view style racing games.
Final Score: 7