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During development much was made of the technology being used to make tyres churn up mud and wreck the surface for rival racers, and I can’t help feeling that the reality here doesn’t quite live up to the hype. The interactivity between vehicles and courses is impressive – at one point I suddenly found the bike I was racing vaulting into the air after a truck driver’s error had turned a barrier into a makeshift ramp – but you never get the sense that your mud-splattering antics are leaving a tricky surface in your wake. What’s more, it’s clear that the swathes of mud left behind are simply flat-looking shader effects, not deformations in the terrain. It’s still great to look at, but not quite as astonishing an effect as we were initially led to believe.
That said, this is a storming launch title for Sony’s new baby. In the heat of the action, the thunderous rock and techno soundtrack blaring out, you’re not thinking about broken promises, excessive price points or all the media hype and bluster that has surrounded this most controversial of recent console launches – you’re just enjoying one of the most adrenalised racing games you’ve ever played. Think Colin McRae 4 meets Burnout 3 and you're probably thinking vaguely along the right lines. Motorstorm is a game that grips like there’s no tomorrow. I’m horribly, horribly tempted to dish out a nine in the box at the top of the page, and the only reason I haven’t is that I’m not sure that, with what’s still only a handful of courses, Motorstorm will have the staying power to match a Gran Turismo, a Burnout 3 or a Colin McRae (though the inclusion of online play in the European version certainly help. Sadly, the server wasn’t up and running at the time of writing). Still, as long as it lasts it’s an absolute blast. Were the PS3 slightly cheaper, Motorstorm would shift it like hot cakes. Even with things as they are, I suspect that – for some of us – it will instantly justify the expense.
The jewel of the PS3 launch line-up, and one of those titles any self-respecting gamer will lust after, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit it. Eventually the thrill may fade, but it’s hard to imagine a more exciting off-road racer.