Thursday, April 12, 2007

VG Review: F1 and Motorstorm

Sony, for the PlayStation 3
rated E for Everyone (mild lyrics), $59.99.

Sony, for the PlayStation 3
rated T for Teen, $59.99.

The racing genre is one of the most dependable in video games, sure to always find a ready-to-please audience.

So it's no surprise that the PlayStation 3, still in its infancy, recently saw the arrival of not one but two racing games -- "Formula One Championship Edition" and "MotorStorm."

"Formula One," is, as you'd imagine, a detailed look at the world of F1 racing. A little too detailed, actually, for my tastes.

The meat of the game is the "career" mode, where you can rise through the F1 ranks by winning races. A great deal of emphasis here is put upon tweaking your automobile, as well as mimicking the real-life races as closely as possible.

For example, before you start a race, you have to run a few practice laps to fine-tune your car's specs. Then you have to run a qualifying race to determine where you'll start. As a result, you'll spend more time running practice laps than actually racing.

You can skip a lot of these early trials, and the races can be fun, so long as you don't bump into anyone or anything, but ultimately, I'm not enough of a Formula One fan to geek out over all the minutiae that's so critical to enjoying the game.

"MotorStorm" is more my speed. And I do mean speed, because this is a dizzingly fast-paced game, with no understanding of basic auto mechanics necessary to play.

In this off-road racer, you pilot a number of different vehicles -- MX bikes, ATVs, rally cars, even big rigs -- across muddy, dusty, treacherous terrain in the American Southwest. There's some background nonsense about it all being part of some "Burning Man"-type festival, but that's easily forgotten.

The game shows off the processing power of the PS3. The levels are large, with a variety of paths to take. Big vehicles leave deep ruts behind, which can impede your progress.

What's more, the track is littered with objects that, once tumbled into, don't somehow miraculously reassemble the next time around the track but remain where you left them.

Speaking of crashes, you can expect to be doing a lot of that in "MotorStorm." In fact, watching your vehicle violently fly apart in full HD is part of the fun. Thankfully, you rejoin the fray with an identical vehicle seconds later.

It's worth mentioning that both titles have some nice online features, allowing you to race a number of other players without much hassle.

Ultimately, I prefer the arcade-style simplicity, not to mention the outright violence, of "MotorStorm" over the obsessive detail offered in "Formula One." There's just something about catapulting yourself hundreds of feet in the air along a narrow mesa to take the lead that "F1," for all its verisimilitude, doesn't have.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007



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