MotorStorm: Apocalypse on PlayStation 3 Hands-On Impressions.

With Split/Second they created a cinematic racing title with an interesting hook. Watching the environments crash around you was the game's selling point, in an overall package that didn't feel particularly well tuned. MotorStorm: Apocalypse is based on a similar concept, but is every inch more impressive; even in the pre-alpha state we tried it in.

Comparing the new MotorStorm to Split/Second reminds us of the comparisons that were raised between Dante's Inferno and God Of War III. Apocalypse's set-pieces are bigger, more detailed and much more unpredictable. The track we played was a fairly linear affair, but it was packed with startling moments of enormous scale.

The first straight had us tussling with a careering 18-wheeler, before we raced into a tunnel beneath an exploding lorry. There was plenty of variety to the track — with long out-door straights punctuated by dark, underground sections.

We got our first sense of MotorStorm: Apocalypse's scale as we took the first exit out of the twisty tunnel. Here we rushed past a number of looming buildings, before being prompted to press the Square button. This changed the perspective of the game's camera — zooming in on a building that collapsed into the road ahead of us. The collapse was stunning, with dust and debris obscuring our vision as we raced through it.

Next, a crack in the road saw us boosting into the air — as we landed on the seemingly safe road in front of us, the floor cracked and crumbled, forcing us into an underground labyrinth which just so happened to be on fire. We went easy on the boost as the flames began to overheat our nitro.

As we exited the tunnel, our boost cooled and we hammered back on the overdrive. We'd lost any sense of "laps" at this point, as the "track" was constantly changing. We pushed into a multi-storey car park, where the lighting flickered on-and-off.  Boosting out of the car-park, we launched ourselves off the edge of a fallen building, marking the finishing line of the track. It's at this point we noted we'd come in second — any sense of racing lost out to the sheer scale of the action on offer.

Later, we got a chance to check out the same track in 3D. It's one of the most impressive demonstrations of 3D technology yet. We're not ashamed to admit, there were a couple of times where we ducked out of the way when a piece of debris seemingly came flying at us. Our only concern was with how dark the game looked in 3D — this may have been a circumstance of the set-up we played the game on, so we hope it's easily rectified.

MotorStorm: Apocalypse surprised us. We're fans of the franchise and have enjoyed previous entries, but we didn't expect this to be quite so cinematic. Visually it's still early, and the frame-rate will need to be stabilised before release. But what we've seen is extremely promising, and we can't wait to see how other tracks vary.