Growing up in the 80s, I was a big-time fan of Micro Machines. Remember that fast-talking guy in the commercials? Sold me every time. That’s why even though MotorStorm RC deals with remote-controlled cars, they’re small enough on my screen to get me all nostalgic for my Micro Machine collection. This new effort from Evolution studios manages to stay true to its arcade roots while delivering a satisfying and entertaining experience and a lot of bang for your buck.
Although the game doesn’t push either the PlayStation 3 or Vita in terms of visual capacity, MotorStorm RC has plenty of old-school charm and several nicely detailed tracks. I have a small issue with visibility, in that regardless of which of the four camera angles I use, I sometimes have difficulty keeping a close eye on my wee racer. It’s a little disconcerting whenever it goes under an overpass, for instance. But this really is a pleasant, charming graphical presentation overall.
To supplement those solid visuals, Evolution has implemented a good soundtrack that emphasizes the silly albeit highly competitive nature of the game. There are a lot of electronic and techno beats that fit the retro RC style perfectly, and the audio balancing is spot-on. In terms of sound effects, the developers took a mostly minimal approach, which sort of makes sense. I mean…all RC vehicles kinda sound the same, right? And there are no intense, crunching metal-on-metal impacts we get in bigger titles. But like the graphics, the sound works very well.
If you’re familiar with the series in question, you will likely recall the names of the four available arenas in MotorStorm RC : Monument Valley, Pacific Rift, Arctic Edge and Apocalypse. Of course, you aren’t actually taking little remote-controlled cars out on those giant tracks; these are much smaller versions of their full-size cousins. So for Arctic Edge, as one might expect, there’s plenty of snow and ice; for Pacific Rift, welcome a distinct jungle feel. I had hoped for a few more circuits, though.
The control is quite good, but it may take some time to nail down the exact combination of accelerating and decelerating that works best for you. Braking usually isn’t necessary and only hurts your lap time, but you still need to control your speed through the more complex turns of any given course. Furthermore, these diminutive vehicles can’t handle much abuse, and they’re quite light to boot. Therefore, they can flip over, get jostled around, and spin out relatively easily.
So you have to walk the fine line between aggression and caution. There are also four different classes of vehicles and perhaps surprisingly, each are quite distinct. Racing trucks aren’t as quick as the buggies, for instance, but the trucks have more weight and are consequently better around turns. This means that if you’re not performing particularly well on a course, you should probably change vehicles; it can make a drastic difference. And that’s great, because it means the various classes have a significant impact on the gameplay. You'll definitely want to experiment.
There are four event types: the standard Race, which is straightforward; you go up against seven other opponents and the first across the finish line after four laps is the winner. Hot Lap tasks you with turning the fastest possible lap, Pursuit has you chasing down racers (the faster you catch and pass them, the better), and Drift is looking for stylish driving with plenty of power-slides. There are three medals to be awarded in each event, and these medals are used to unlock more events and vehicles.
In total, you’re looking at 48 challenges, which isn’t bad, especially considering the cost of the game. Plus, the main appeal of the whole production doesn’t rest on getting those medals (that’s typically easily done, and it’s mostly only for progression purposes). No, the meat of this title lies in competing against friends online. Although there is no true online multiplayer, your best performances are recorded and compared against those on your Friends list, and you always want to beat their best performances, too.
It’s the same philosophy as the Autolog, which made Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit so damn addictive. You can even see the ghosts of your Friends on a course after completing the medal challenge, so you can gauge your performance as you drive. Hence, there’s going to be a lot of— “Oh damn, ‘insert Friend name here’ is ahead of me…how’d he get that far ahead?” Plus, given the fact that leaderboards can be accessed on either the Vita (when on the go), or on the PS3, you can always stay connected and always face new competition.
MotorStorm RC is well worth the $9.99 entrance fee. The sheer amount of content and high fun factor means you’ll be playing it for quite some time, especially if you have a lot of friends who are also playing. The control is good (if a tiny bit loose), the tracks are well designed and challenging, the different events mean you can always stay diverse, and the various vehicle classes do indeed have a major impact on your racing. I’m not the biggest fan of any of the camera angles (although I eventually stuck with the top-down one), and the production isn’t as slick as I might’ve expected, but…
The game is fun. Simple.
The Good: Nice track design. Good soundtrack. Solid control and significant vehicle variety. Plenty of bang for your buck. High fun factor. Fast load times. Topping your Friends never gets old.
The Bad: Not overjoyed with any of the camera angles. Steering can be a little iffy. No online multiplayer.
The Ugly: “I flipped over again…damnit.”