You know, I fell into a trap with Motorstorm RC. Being the nostalgic person that I am, I expected when I heard the name of the upcoming racer, we’d get something along the lines of racing remote controlled cars through massive environments, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids style. I got that, but I didn’t get nearly what I had really hoped; an actual Motorstorm game.
RC is clearly Motorstorm in name only. Instead of the franchise’s legendary changing environments with twists, turns and dangers around every corner, including the combination of frustration and hilarity when constantly crashing, RC is done from a top-down perspective. It’s as if you and some friends have actually thrown together all the junk in your backyard and made a race track out of it. This means you’re playing an old-school, arcadey racing game instead of one where you, well, actually follow the car.
If you’ve ever played a game like this, you know the biggest reason why this should make most gamers cringe: the controls.
There are two sets of control schemes for turning, in addition to having fully customizable buttons. One style has the left and right turns tied to the right thumbstick, and no matter which way your vehicle is facing, right and left will always be just that, right and left. The other, and the seemingly better option, has the car turning in whatever direction you’re holding the stick. This would be the way to go in order to avoid directional disorientation, if it wasn’t for the fact that it takes forever for a car to make a full turn. Regardless of which scheme you pick, you’re likely to be fighting against the game’s controls, losing entire races just because you can’t get the turns to work as you want to.
That’s the worst part of the experience. Thankfully, what the rest of the game has to offer is a bit better. Tracks are pulled from environments from each of the four games in the Motorstorm franchise: Monument Valley, Pacific Rift, Arctic Edge and Apocalypse. Although instead of the prospect of being awesome and actually driving RC cars through jungles or falling buildings, as I’ve mentioned, the tracks look more like you and some buddies threw a bunch of stuff together in a certain theme. Pacific Rift tracks don’t look much different than a carefully planned garden. Arctic Edge tracks are nothing more than snow shovels and snowmobiles all grouped together during the first snow of the season. Apocalypse tracks are as much industrial junk in one place as possible. Although the graphics on both PS3 and Vita are impressive, the tracks have a feeling that very little effort was actually put into them. Not only do they all look mostly the same, but there’s very little detail or distinguishing artifacts on any of them.
Gameplay itself is primarily found in Festival mode. You’ll be driving about eight different kinds of vehicles across four different kinds of races. Standard race is self-explanatory. Hot Lap tasks players with doing laps on certain tracks over and over again until you beat preset times. Drift races award points for more elaborate drifting around corners. Pursuit has players trying to pass a certain amount of other racers before a set time limit.
Each event has three challenges; gold, silver and bronze. These are usually split up into finishing certain events with faster times, racking up more points or finishing a race in a higher place. There are three challenges per event, four events per track area. If you’ve done your math, that means there are 48 total challenges across 16 different races. That’s quite a bit for the game, as you’ll probably be replaying races over and over to try to shave precious seconds off your time.
Of course, if THAT doesn’t get you to return, you could always look to the always-on leaderboards. The game will tease you before, during and after races if you have any friends that have finished races in better standings than you, or even tell you if you’ve passed random people from the Internet. The leaderboards are shared between the handheld and console versions, so that means twice the amount of potential enemies.
However, that leaderboard is pretty much the only form of multiplayer you’ll find. There are split-screen options on the console version, but there’s no local multiplayer via Near on Vita, and no online multiplayer either. Not even cross-play between the Vita and PS3, one of the big features Sony has been pushing for the Vita. This would have been the absolute perfect opportunity to implement it, but it’s nowhere to be found.
One of the biggest reasons the game will get downloaded is how inexpensive it is. Weighing in at only $9.99 on PS3 and completely free on the Vita, a lot of people will look into the game simply because the Motorstorm franchise, typically a full-price affair, has a cheap/free option. But I can’t help but wonder what would have come from the game if things were different. It’s nice that the game is offered at the price point it is, but there are other downloadable games on PSN and XBLA at the same price range that have infinitely more polish.
I find it simultaneously easy and hard to recommend Motorstorm RC. If you’ve got a Vita, you might as well give it the free download and see if the game is for you, but take caution if you’re thinking of dropping the 10 bucks on the console version. Oddly enough, although myself and many other people I’ve spoken to hated the game, there are a handful who think it’s fantastic. I feel the game has very little going for it other than the free entry level. A great idea and a potentially phenomenal concept are plagued by infuriating controls and handling, made worse by just how unfinished the game feels as a whole.