Preview: Motorstorm Arctic Edge (PSP)

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Platform: PSP (PS2 version coming also)
Players: 1-8 (Supports Ad-Hoc and Infrastructure)
Release Date: 9/29/09 (North America)
PSN Version

I’ve had the PSP version of Motorstorm Arctic Edge for a few days now, and so far I’d say that Motorstorm fans (and racing fans in general) are definitely going to be pleased with what BigBig Studios has done.

What’s Going On Here?
As we saw at E3 2008, a few of the more popular PS3 franchises are making their way to the PSP. After 2 incredibly successful releases on the PS3, Motorstorm is finally moving to the handheld, and this time the weather has an effect on the racing. Variations on the traditional vehicle classes are all there, including cycles, ATV’s, rally cars, and big rigs, but they’ve also included the “Snow Cat” and “Snow Plow” classes, which brings something new to a few of the tracks. Also added is environmental effects such as sudden avalanches, broken ice bridges, and three different racing altitudes.

Visuals
The framerate is extremely solid, and although the screenshots posted at the bottom of the article don’t convey it (in my opinion at least), the visuals are very well done. All of the shots included here are taken using the built-in Photo Mode, which has a fully controllable camera and is easy enough to use that even I could use it. The draw distance is great, and while you may see some geometry pop-in with more detail occasionally, this is seriously one of the better looking racing games on the PSP. They’ve even included snowfall and volumetric smoke effects in some of the races.

Of course, this isn’t a PS3, so you won’t see textures, lighting, or destructibility at the level in something like Pacific Rift, but they’ve scaled those features down nicely, and crashes still have a very satisfying feel. Also, all of the vehicles are customizable, and you unlock better customization kits as you progress through your “career.”

Control
One of my biggest fears with the PSP is that I’ll be forced to only use the Analog nub for control, but thankfully BigBig has allowed for both Digital (D-pad) and Analog (Nub) controls, and 2 choices for button configs. Control is great overall, and in my case the d-pad controls are a Godsend. Your vehicle still reacts to small bumps etc, but it’s about 50% less than in the PS3 versions. Motorstorm never really had complex controls, and they translate very well to the PSP.

Audio
Arctic Edge includes 20 licensed tracks, all of which fit the game extremely well. There isn’t custom soundtrack support that I can find, but so far the included soundtrack has been working great for me. Engine and ambient sounds are great, and the audio is excellent when using headphones.
**NOTE** The fact sheet sent to me says there’s custom soundtrack support, but in my Review Build I’m not seeing how to do it. I will find out before I do a full review though.

Everything Else
The game includes 12 tracks, all of which can be played in reverse. I’m STILL learning the tracks, and I’ve played for hours. The progression has been great so far, but has recently ramped-up on me a lot. Fans of the series will like the familiar feel, but may think that it’s too easy when starting out. Trust me, when you get to level 3, the AI becomes a complete bastard!

The online servers are not up yet, so I wasn’t able to try any wireless gameplay. The interface seems very straightforward, but I really can’t comment until I try it for myself.

I’m really enjoying it so far, and have already played for a few hours. We have another couple of weeks before the embargo lifts for a full review, so Mark and I should should have a great understanding of the entire package by then. Check out the screenshots below. Like I said above, I honestly feel the screenshots don’t do this game justice as when you see it in motion, but they still look pretty damned good.

Screenshot Gallery

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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