• Motorstorm: RC Review PlayStation Vita / PlayStation 3

    Realism. Motorstorm has traditionally been filled with turbo charged bikes and 16 wheelers, flowing lava and races set during the course of earthquakes. It has never been a particularly realistic series. That is, until now. The latest entry in the Motorstorm series takes its racing heritage from Micro Machines, Circuit Breakers and Mashed and as far as radio controlled cars are concerned, it is extremely realistic. You can picture the scene now. All the racers from Motorstorm: Apocalypse crowd round with little replicas of their off road racers. They huddle up in the racers' strip above their chosen course and battle it out in their downtime between the big boy racing. All with realistic miniature off road racing.

    Confusing Motorstorm: RC with a sub standard spin off is a mistake that should be avoided at all costs though. Motorstorm RC is in the limelight at the moment and for good reason. It is a Playstation Vita launch title exclusively available on the PSN. It is a PS3 game that utilises cross play: if you buy the game once then you can play it on your PS3 or Playstation Vita. Finally it is a fully fledged entry in an important Sony exclusive franchise that is available now for less than 5. There are bold sentiments behind this title; it represents a shot across the bow against the onslaught of cheap mobile phone gaming and Evolution Studios have made their shot count. The twinstick/physical button controls in Motorstorm: RC far outclass anything similar available on platforms limited to touch screen controls.

    Now that the formalities are out of the way, you start off in a concrete playground to learn the basics. There are two main control schemes on offer both of which are further customisable. Neither of them force you to use the touch screen or the accelerometer and both take advantage of the twin sticks on both the PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. You whip around a little course, try out a few different vehicles and then you are taken to the traditional festival structure that returns from the previous entries in the series. This time the miniature courses are set across the four previous entries in the series, Monument Valley, Pacific Ridge, Arctic Edge and Apocalypse and the theme of each game is borrowed wholesale for the individual events. You are able to race against seven other AI players, drive a hot lap, enter an overtake challenge or drive a drift challenge. You win medals and unlock more vehicles and stages. Motorstorm: RC is not short of content to work your way through.

    While there is no direct competitive online multiplayer the 'Pit Wall' is fully integrated into everything you do. As soon as you post a time on a course it updates and can be compared against all players, or those that you are friends with. This strangely competitive element adds to the one more go factor and plays across all other modes including time attack, 'Wreckreation' (a free play arena to do with what you will) and the playground where you started the game. As you unlock more medals you open up more of the conrete jungle to play in. It is an interactive title screen that contains its own hidden tricks and challenges that deserves to be well explored. All this content would come to naught if the core racing wasn't up to scratch. Thankfully though, all is well.

    RC racing is all about straight line speed. Cars tend to be light so grip in the corners is at a premium; the little cars pick up speed quickly and simply will not turn corners at top speed, exactly as in real life. There is the realism. Cars slip and slide and roll around the courses, all of which are excellently designed to take into account the unique properties of the miniature stars. The boost button is done away with and it isn't missed; the cars are quick enough that its inclusion would have made the game too hard to control. Jumps, cross over, berms and banked turns are all present but not overused. Even better, and perhaps as you would expect with a 'standard' car racer, you gain access to faster RC cars as you work your way through the campaign. Going back to earlier courses with your new vehicles completely changes the experience. There is a learning curve present here that you will have to get to grips with or you will fail often. Going back to previous courses to best your times, or those of your online friends demonstrates how a little time spent learning the nuance of the control system benefits you. Hammering the throttle will not always lead to victory and the subtle flow of acceleration through the corners becomes second nature.

    The package as a whole oozes care; hot lap races use arrows for gold, silver and bronze medals to show racing lines through the turns, the UI is well informative without being overbearing and, as long as you like dub step, the sound track is great. Graphically the title does need to be considered in two lights. The PS3 is naturally stronger, with a deeper colour palette with cleaner lines and better trackside graphical effects. That isn't to say that the Vita version is a slouch in the graphics department but there appears to be a noticeable difference in car models and track detail. It doesn't affect the way the game runs though as both play identically. Cross platform play also works perfectly, you can literally pick up and play on either system and all your progress will be updated automatically. One small niggle that can be levelled at the cross platform process is that the tutorials all reactivate themselves on the system that you have't been through them on before. A minor annoyance but one that sits ill at ease with the streamlined design decisions that have been taken in other areas.

    Motorstorm: RC is an almost unqualified victory and it deserves to be the success story of the Vita launch. Price shouldn't be a major issue when discussing games but it is unavoidable here. As the cheapest launch title available for the Vita it also offers one of the best experiences. Fun racing with a deep learning curve, tons of content and well implemented social features for less than a fiver. If this is the future of digital distribution that the Vita will herald (and drag the PS3 along with it) then bring it on.

    + Brilliant miniature racing
    + Excellent social features
    + Brilliant value for money

    - Cross play niggles
    - No 'direct' online multiplayer

    Developer: Evolution Studios
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
    Other Versions: N/A
    Version Reviewed: EU

    Score: 9/10