Motorstorm Apocalypse: waves of mutilation

, | Game diaries

Credit where credit is due: I’m supposed to write clever headlines for my diary entries, and instead I’m lifting this one straight out of the game. It’s the name of the course in the picture above, the one with the ferris wheel coming unhinged in the middle of a tornado ripping the boardwalk out from under my tires. I’ve got some problems with the presentation in Motorstorm, but borrowing a Pixies track isn’t one of them.

My focus so far is the single player campaign, and without much choice in how it unfolds, I haven’t had a reason to look ahead to what courses are coming up next. I did look at some of my stats though, and as I glanced at my course standings, the thumbnail for Waves of Mutilation caught my eye immediately. An offshore tornado? How could that go wrong? Sign me up!

But after the break, I’ll tell you why it’s only my second favorite course so far.

Okay, let me gush a little more about Waves of Mutilation. It’s got that eerie summer thunderstorm lighting, late enough in the afternoon that the sun is low in the sky, but still early enough that it’s dramatic how dark the skies are. Flashes of lightning reflect off everything, because the rain I can’t seem to capture in my screenshots is coming down in sheets, and apparently the lightning is packing quite a punch. On my second lap, it detonates a lighthouse, and it’s a bolt on lap three that sends the ferris wheel rolling across my path. Buildings collapse, ships ram the dock, and smaller boats are simply dropped on me. It’s chaos everywhere, but it also looks great, managing a cohesive tone some courses lack. I thought I’d end the night on that high point, but then I got distracted by a phone call and came back to find the next race ready to begin, so I gave it a shot.

The courses in Motorstorm are laid out in about a dozen locations (so far), with each location offering several variations. At the halfway point of the campaign, I’ve hit a few locations as many as three times now, but I don’t think I’ve seen the exact same variation twice, which means I haven’t run the same race twice. It’s not just a lazy run through the same race backward, or with a few shortcuts opened. It’s, well, it’s the apocalypse. Almost every time you return to a location, it’s worse than you left it, and the destruction mid-race is getting crazier. It’s that variation that’s starting to impress me even more than Frank Black’s coastal tornado.

My last race of the night sent me back to “Upper Bohemia,” a once suburban area I’d done a few laps on before. Things had shaken and shifted in the past, but I wasn’t ready for this. There wasn’t a big set piece, no out of control ferris wheels or tornadoes, just a course shaking itself completely apart. Precariously balanced buildings crumbled, then quiet, unassuming buildings had their altitude adjusted. Roads shifted, then shifted again. Sometimes a chasm opened across my straightaway, and sometimes the road split alongside me as Mother Nature decided to arbitrarily enforce a no-passing zone. It was impressive that things didn’t just break where I expected them to. Plenty of courses have obvious disasters waiting to happen, but Motorstorm is disabusing me of the notion that I know what’s coming next. Watching Upper Bohemia crumble around me has changed my outlook, I can’t take for granted that the boring location I visited on the rookie campaign is going to be as predictable in the future. As I write this, I’m trying to justify staying up just a little later to see what the next course has to offer. And maybe the next one. And maybe… maybe this campaign isn’t what I had in mind at the outset, and maybe I’ve still got reservations about its longevity, but I’m really starting to enjoy the ride.

I’ve got a handful of little things I know I want to talk about, but I’m not sure what’s going to turn into a full diary entry over the weekend, so I’ll make you a deal: come back Monday, and I’ll give you an Arrested Development joke.

Click here for the previous Motorstorm Apocalypse entry.

Wholly Schmidt wrestles PDFs into submission as the print industry collapses around him by day, and moves furniture to play Rock Band by night. He can’t tell you his real name, because he has almost all of his friends fooled into thinking he’s a grown-up.