MotorStorm RC Preview – The Return of Micro Machines
Evolution Studios’ latest racer brings top-down arcade racing to the Vita, along with a host of social features.
Ah, Micro Machines. For a child of the ’80s, there was nothing better than waking up on Christmas morning to find stacks of the tiny scale miniatures under the tree only later to have them end up underneath the feet of a disgruntled relative after trying to reenact the booby trap scenes from Home Alone. And then, of course, there was the video game–an addictive top-down racer developed by Codemasters that was epic fun, particularly if you shunned the rules of personal space and opted to share a controller with a friend for some insane eight-player races. Sadly, the series has been out of action for some time, leaving our inner child throwing a tantrum worthy of a Super Nanny intervention while our older self got all serious with the likes of Forza and Gran Turismo.
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Fortunately, MotorStorm developer Evolution Studios is bringing a Micro Machines vibe to MotorStorm RC, which is coming to the PlayStation Vita and Network in time for the handheld’s launch next year. MotorStorm RC is an arcade racer with tracks based on locales from each of the franchise’s console outings, but instead of driving dirt bikes and trucks, you pilot little remote-controlled cars. There are 24 of the blighters to choose from, each with different handling characteristics and speeds, some of which will need to be unlocked as you progress.
In our hands-on, we checked out three circuits based on Pacific Rift, Arctic Rift, and Apocalypse, with environments consisting of sand, ice, and a postapocalyptic wasteland respectively. Immediately noticeable was the reduced scale of the tracks, which eschewed the multiple pathways of their console cousins. They still shared the same beautiful visuals, though, with plenty of details, such as shards of ice, rickety bridges, and plumes of dust, adorning them. Their reduced scale meant that corners were much tighter than we expected, and jumps were more frequent, but they were ably dealt with thanks to the distinct handling of the RC cars.
Unlike traditional vehicles, the RC cars had a very tight turning circle, making it possible to get through the tight hairpins and sharp corners. They controlled differently too, with acceleration handled by the second analogue stick, much like how a real RC car is controlled. While our job was ultimately to make it round the track in front of our AI opponents, MotorStorm RC relies heavily on social features to up the challenge. In each race you can see the ghost trails of your friends’ lap times, which propagate using the Vita’s SpotPass-like NEAR functionality, meaning you’re always given a fresh set of challenges.
There are leaderboards too, and you can manually send challenges to any of your friends, as well as post lap times to Facebook. While there isn’t traditional cross-platform play with the PlayStation 3 like in the upcoming Wipeout 2048, leaderboard data and challenges are shared between the Vita and PSN versions. If you’re playing the PSN version, you can also look forward to four-player split-screen, which–given the arcade handling and top-down camera views–is more than reminiscent of those hazy days spent playing Micro Machines on the Megadrive (that’s Genesis to those across the pond). Plus, if you buy the PSN or Vita version, you get the other for free, which is a great touch.
MotorStorm RC will be available on the PSN and Vita at the handheld’s launch next year. Keep your eyes on GameSpot for more soon.