When you think MotorStorm you think big cars, off-road mayhem and more collisions than an engine can rev at. Peep in the direction of Evolution Studios’ PS Vita/PlayStation Network title, however, and something far different than expected can be found. Sure, there’s the occasional bump, and driving definitely takes place off-road... but the vehicles are no bigger than a finger, shrunk down to Micro Machines proportions.
Inspired by the world of competitive remote control cars, MotorStorm RC takes the series in a new direction while retaining plenty of familiar elements. Races now take place between unmanned battery-operated vehicles, tearing through environments previously found in MotorStorm, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge and MotorStorm: Apocalypse. Rather than making big impressions on the ground, the tiny wheels barely move dust as they charge around the over-sized tracks.
The camera has been adjusted to an overhead position to convey the smaller scale more readily. Control has also been altered to a more befitting style in line with this: the left analogue stick steers the miniature vehicles around, the right accelerates and reverses with up and down respectively. It feels really smooth and you'll glide around corners with ease, though admittedly it’s slightly strange to use the analogue stick for speed regulation after so long spent hitting face or shoulder buttons to do the job.
As the laps — each only lasting around 20 seconds — are completed, encouraging guide arrows shoot around the course. These represent gold, silver and bronze medals to be earned through quick driving, simultaneously showing off the best paths and giving players something — aside the other vehicles, of course — to race against. Beat an arrow’s time to win that medal and it will disappear for subsequent laps, survived only by its higher-ranking brothers. After the first lap a new white pointer will also appear, representing the player’s own path on the previous pass. This, again, gives something extra to race against while also aiding improvements so that costly mistakes can be avoided the next go round.
In a similar fashion to Need For Speed’s Autolog, MotorStorm RC will also download ghost data from other players, whether they’re online-only buddies, real-life folk who are picked up via Near or random people with similar skill levels plucked from the wealth of the Internet. These ghosts can be transplanted in to give the impression that multiplayer races are always on-going, even when the system is not connected to a network consistently. Evolution reasons that this will make MotorStorm RC more accessible for portable play as little data transfer is necessary, which consequently means that connectivity does not have to be maintained for long periods of time.
Pay for MotorStorm RC on Vita and access is also granted to the exact same game as a download on PlayStation Network without any extra charge, then playable on PlayStation 3. Live cross-platform play between PlayStation 3 and Vita, as found in WipEout 2048, is not a feature employed here. Instead Evolution has opted to use an asynchronous link, wherein all data — ghosts, leaderboards, times — is shared between the two versions so that saved games can be continued either at home or out and about.
MotorStorm RC is a fun addition to the off-road racing series, a hark back to the days of Micro Machines and lighter racing experiences, that controls well and freshens up the franchise by taking it in a completely different direction. The cross-platform compatibility, while not featuring the full-fledged multiplayer that many would hope, is a cool prospect that will allow nippy times to be scored at home before heading out and showing off skills on the road. Having the game accessible on both Vita and PlayStation 3 for one single price point, the same saves shared between both, is certainly an enticing offer that should grease the wheels of purchasing intent.