MotorStorm RC Vita preview – taking things back to the NES days

Ever play the old RC Pro AM on the NES? How about Super Sprint or Super Off Road? MotorStorm RC for the Vita is setting its sights on replicating the feel of those very old games by translating the MotorStorm franchise into a miniaturized format. Instead of driving giant monster trucks across sprawling landscapes, you’ll be putt-putting along in tiny RC cars on the kinds of tracks you expect RC cars to be racing on.

We played three tracks, each “inspired” by a different entry in the MotorStorm series: see, the game contains sixteen tracks divided evenly amongst the first four MotorStorm games. However, what we’ve played doesn’t resemble MotorStorm in any way, really. There’s no boosting, which is a cornerstone of the franchise. The RC cars look like regular old RC cars and don’t hugely resemble their counterparts in MotorStorm proper (at least in the zoomed-out view during gameplay, which makes all the cars look the same). The tracks we played had no branching pathways, which are another hallmark of the series. In short, we’re not sure why this game even carries the MotorStorm name.

Gameplay consists of steering your car as you did in those old overhead-view racing games – since you’re not positioned with a viewpoint behind or inside the vehicle, you have to wrap your head around turning in opposite directions when the car is moving from top to bottom on the screen. The cars don’t move particularly fast, but then there are some seriously tight turns involved – as you you’d expect on a compact track that looks like it was built by RC enthusiasts. There are jumps, but they’re mostly cosmetic as you don’t really have to do anything to compensate for them.

Aside from the regular mode where you race against AI opponents, there is a time attack mode that features “ghost” arrows moving along the track, which represent gold, silver, or bronze medal runs on a particular course, and the mode is endless until you either beat every medal or get tired of it. It’s a good practice mode because it teaches you the ideal racing lines for a given track. As for multiplayer, well there isn’t any if you’re just playing on the Vita. That game will be playable on both the Vita and the PS3 (a single purchase gives you access to both versions, and your progress is saved across versions). If you play on PS3 there isn’t any online multiplayer, but there is four-player splitscreen local play, which could be a lot of fun. If you’re only playing on Vita, you can post your best runs to a leaderboard and then race against your friends’ ghosts, but that’s it.

MotoStorm RC honestly left us scratching our heads. It doesn’t look, feel, or play anything like a MotorStorm game and contains none of the series’ signature elements. We wonder if it was originally developed as a different property and then somewhere along the line got the MotorStorm name attached to it. It doesn’t seem like a bad game – we’re just not sure how much staying power it will have without multiplayer support on the Vita and with such simple mechanics. Perhaps if we see more than just those three tracks (which is a small sample of the total) we’ll get a better idea for how this game will (or won’t) fit into the venerated PlayStation-exclusive series.

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