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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

BigBig Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

October 20, 2009

 

 

- Beefy amount of content

- Muti-path tracks with icy environmental hazards

- Slick (as ice) visuals and crunch-eriffic crashes

 

 

- Small screen can obscure some vehicles and pits

- AI offers little challenge

- Repetitive tracks

 

 

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Motorstorm: Arctic Edge

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

motorstorm arctic edge          motorstorm arctic edge

 

The original Motorstorm served as the Playstation 3's first original racing series, created to fill in the gap for Gran Turismo (which has still yet to make a proper numbered appearance on Sony's big black box). Introducing early adopters to slick visuals, destructible environments and slow motion crashes didn't quite set the racing genre on fire, but still maintained a respectable group of fans. It was only a matter of time when the budding newborn racing series would storm (sorry) its way to the PSP.

 

After having raced across twisting jungles and treacherous deserts, the masochistic men and women racers have decided to stage their next tournament on the frozen

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peaks of Antarctica. With 12 tracks spread across the mountain along with 24 vehicles and several modes of play, this portable race across the alps is quite hefty in content. You've got your standard racing matches, with 10 racers driving across the frozen tundra for a shot at 1st place. Finishing strong opens up more tracks and challenges, along with new vehicles

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and parts to traverse the frosty terrain in.

 

The tracks feature more twists and turns beyond a simple fork in the road; each of the multi-path courses feature both upper and lower portions, from snow-covered mountaintops to icy caves. A few environmental hazards, including a blinding avalanche that can swallow vehicles whole ramp up the intensity of these new tracks, while the new ice-clusive vehicles (again, sorry) such as ATVs, rally cars, snowpluggers and big rigs each have a handling advantage depending on the terrain, although it isn't so notable that it becomes necessary to learn. Also unnecessary are the unlockable liveries, decals, and other cosmetic additions you can obtain for your vehicles, but racing fans eager to pimp their rides (and racers) can look forward to the numerous aesthetic items to earn.

 

The move to portable racing hasn't caused Motorstorm to lose its momentum; as a casual racing series, the PSP is the perfect place for quick on-the-go sessions. Arctic Edge retains its Boost gameplay mechanic, which allows players to crank up the juice on their jalopies for an extra burst of speed; Abusing it too much, however, will cause your vehicle to overheat and eventually explode, which can hinder chances to place 1st. Handbraking, powersliding, and other tactics apply here, but you rarely have to control your speed to do well in these courses. Motorstorm is all about casual, extreme racing that never goes too Xtreme, and that's perfectly fine. The AI racers don't offer too much resistance, so competitive racers may be better off competing online. Once the dust settles, you can share snapped photos during the heated races thanks to the game's photo mode, which saves pictures as jpegs which can then be uploaded to a PC for bragging rights, or to capture a particularly brutal crash.

 

motorstorm arctice edge          motorstorm arctice edge

 

Speaking of which, the slow-motion, bone-shattering crashes are just as brutal on the PSP as they were on the big screen, giving players a few seconds to watch their customized rig explode into several pieces of shrapnel, or watch their masked racer ragdoll themselves into oblivion. The visuals extend beyond the brutal crashes, however, as Arctic Edges visuals are quite impressive, from mud and ice sticking to the camera, or an entire mountain of snow falling across the tracks, among many other little touches. There is a bit of sacrifice to be made for the smaller screen, though, such as a smaller amount of on-screen racers. The somewhat limited color palette can also cause a bit of visual obstruction, especially when driving through sudden gaps in the tracks. A more dynamic use of shadowing may have helped discern things, but developer Bigbig studios still deserves props for being able to fit what was originally a tech demo for the PS3's graphical prowess onto the PSP system. The soundtrack consists of the usual kind of rock music that's common in most racing games, with plenty of vocal performers that sound like they're trying to hit a baby with a cat. Fortunately, the option to customize the soundtrack with your own set of songs is available as well.

 

While Arctic Edge may not be the penultimate title to propel the series past its cult status, it still maintains the polished pedigree and crazy crashes that makes the series a well-respected franchise. It may not be the hottest racer in the portable market, but fans should definitely think twice about giving this tour de tundra the cold shoulder.

 

I do not apologize for that one.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(November 23, 2009)

 

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