MotorStorm: Arctic Ridge (PSP) Reviewed

motorstorm-arctic-edge-20090602040322082_640wThe Original Motorstorm for the Playstation 3 had a rough road heading to it’s release date.  With footage from the 2005 E3 that looked simply too good to be true (which it was..) and being pushed from it’s original release date a couple times.  It was finally released in March of ‘07 to positive reviews, even though it never reached the graphical quality of the “tech demo” that was shown in 2005, it was still a very good looking game that featured some pretty fun and intense driving and a game play style of it’s own.

After a “somewhat” sequel (Pacific Rift.) This PSP version was announced, and after some delay…finally released for you’re playing pleasure.  Put into the hands of a different developer for the PSP, Motorstorm has made a transition from console to handheld like Tim Robbins from Shawshank Redemption (Crawled thru a quarter mile of shit and came out clean on the other side!.) The other developer in charge is BigBig Studio and they should be proud of what they did with this port.


The controllers are bass-ackwards for a racing game, but can be customized.  The default setup is different then most racers for the PSP.  I immediately changed them to what I’m use to from other racing games on the portable device.  After that change, it was pretty straight forward.  X to Go, Square to Stop, Right trigger to Nitro, etc etc.  Initially, I was worried about the weight of the cars feeling too light.  While I still think they feel lighter than the cars in the PS3 versions, it’s not really that big of a deal.  I would have preferred the cars to feel more like that of there big brother counterparts, but the quicker response and turning isn’t a problem.  It does make them feel more like toys and less like hulking vehicles, though.

The nitro feels different too.  While it does the same thing as before, where you will press and hold the button until your car heats up too much and eventually explodes.  The point of ‘sploding is far longer then previous games.  In the PS3 counterpart, holding it over the alarm for more than 2 seconds caused an explosion.  on the PSP, holding it over 3-4 seconds causes your head to splode.  While I guess I can understand why they may have done this (colder environment.)  it still feels too easy to abuse the boost.

As the game goes on, the difficulty does increase.  In my early courses, it felt far too easy to win, and multiple crashes in a single lap would still result in a victory.  After your first 10 races or so, the A.I. becomes more aggressive and the game does get harder to beat.  The one thing I wish would have been kept from the Big Brother copies was the feeling of doom at every turn.  The sense that you are about to fall off a cliff, or crash into something over a jump you can’t see yet.  That feeling never truly materializes.  While the course design is very good and fun to play, that sense of dread isn’t quite there.

Let’s get back to the course design.  I have to say that I’m impressed.  many of the courses on this version are more fun then that of the original.  lots of twists and turns.  Although they missed the sense of “Im gonna die any second!!” they where able to keep the vertigo of “Where in Gods name am I going!?"  and it’s great.  Many tracks don’t even feel like they should be courses.  They feel like you and a bunch of friends randomly said “Let’s race! right here!.. trash can is home base.. GO”  You know?.  when you’re a kid and make up stuff.  That’s how these feel, but you find your way around and get a route that you are comfortable in.  Many courses feature ice bridges that will collapse if too many cars use it, so on 1 lap it’ll be there, and the next it is gone, or if too many cars go based an unstable snow bank and you’re left in the dusk, an avalanche will come crashing down on you.  While the avalanches are a cool touch, it’s gone the next lap and is pretty much a non-issue as it rarely catches you.

The driving mechanics that skewed the Motorstorm series from the pack apply here pretty well too.  Each class of vehicle has a route that best suits it.  Like big heavy trucks should stay low and in the mud, while motorcycles should go high and stay on hard surfaces.  Which not only makes you think about which routes to take, but can add a bit of reply value to the game itself.  Sure, you played all the courses.  but have you played them all taking different routes?.  Something that also applies to route choice would be if you use Nitro a lot.  if so, should you find a route that has large amounts of water or snow drifts?.  Why is that important?.  because water and high snow levels will cool your engine faster and allow for more boost usage.

Overall physics are pretty good.  But many times your car, again, feels too light.  when you hit a ridge or wall sometimes your vehicle, be it car or big rig, will fly WAY up and spin comically.  It’s annoying, and you’ll train yourself to start hitting the “car reset” button, because waiting for your car to fall back to the ground can be a long wait.  Aside from that, while racing.  Everything feels slick…. yeah, duh, you’re on ice, I get it.  I’ll give then that one.

Another addition are snowmobiles.  The Sno-mobiles are best in high snow areas.  But, honestly, I didn’t like picking them.  because typically, the routes I would have to take would keep me uncomfortably close to the large rigs that would just smash me.  it was annoying.

A Note to anyone running custom firmware. this game will not run on anything less then 5.55. Which has no Custom counterpart. This restriction is purely artificial, as the game doesn’t actually require anything specific in 5.55. It’s just a means of forcing you to upgrade away from your awesomely cool custom firmware. Because of this. I’m going to tell you that you can run this on 5.50 GEN B-2 firmware using a new tool released this past week. Look it up. I’m only tipping people off because I love the abilities that CFW’s (Custom FirmWare) bring to the PSP. And the fact that 5.55 is actually REQUIRED! It’s just restricted to that version to force people to upgrade for no other reason than to get them off CFW.


If you are expecting PS3 quality then… You’re a rahtard.  Seriously.  get back in your cave dum-dum.

If you are expecting it to at LEAST look decent then you’re in for a surprise, it looks pretty friggin’ good actually.  Car models aren’t off the charts or anything, but there detailed enough to know what they are suppose to be and are far from being an eye sore.  The texture work isn’t bad at all either are does add little details to the car.  You’re not going to get Gran Turismo detail or anything, but miles ahead of DiRT 2.  I wish the camera was pushed in a little closer to the back bumper, but that’s a personal preference in my racing games.  What really shines about the game is the environment detail.  Texture work on the ground is very good, and lighting effects and lens flares coming off of a lowering sun looks really good.  Shadows are static, but interact well with the car as it passes under bridges and cliffs and such.  The snow/mud trails that the vehicles tires leave look pretty good, but in some instances, the track being left is wider than the tire, and it looks a little funny.  These aren’t all the time issues, just once in a while.  The snow and rain effects in the game are REALLY good.  even looking better than some weather effects on the consoles!.  while the snow, if you look closely, comes down in patchy patterns, the overall effect of the snow isn’t flat and dull, it’s distance perspective as you drive through looks very cool, little flakes of snow will stick to your “screen” and make it a little harder to see.  Rain does the same thing, while falling doesn’t look as impressive as the snow, the effect it has on the screen as you drive into it is.  droplets form and slide off the screen opposite of the direction you’re turning, very cool!  There are some graphical glitches though.  some texture ripping, pop up can get a little bad sometimes.  it’s never a game breaker, but you’ll notice it sometimes in the distance.


Well, The sound is nearly identical to that of the PS3.  It’s pretty spot on.  of course the quality isn’t as high, but it’s coming from a portable.. what the hell do you expect.  Engines sound good, sliding around on the dirt sounds good.  There really isn’t a lot to say about this section expect it all sounds pretty good.

EXCEPT.. some of the soundtrack.  While most of it is good, there are a couple songs that I wish to Jesus and the Flying Spaghetti monster that I could remove from the playlist.  Especially this one that.. for 2 minutes worth of the song, is this annoying guy going.  “blah blah blah…..HERE WE GO!!”.  The sonofabitch says this like.. 20 times before the song changes.. oh. god I hate it.


I was really looking forward to a portable version of Motorstorm, the PS3 version took a little time to get into because it felt pretty different than many other racers out there, once I got into it though I thought it was a pretty solid game.  I was worried the Portable version would suck.  My worries weren’t unfounded, look at a lot of ports to the handheld.  They’ve been mediocre or down right terrible.  I’m glad to say that This is not one of those ports.

MotorStorm: Artic Ridge is a good game.  If you are someone who is hoping for a 100% authentic replica of the PS3 versions then… loosen up, or else this version will disappoint.  But, if you liked Motorstorm, and are wanting a good PSP racer, than look no further, this is a fine Racing game that shouldn’t disappoint anyone who likes high flying, crazy rally style game play.

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Final Score — 8.2

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