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First Impressions of Motorstorm: Apocalypse in 3D

The 3D live-action demo of Killzone 3 swept us off our feet – or at least made us feel like it with the help of a jetpack. But how do 3D games actually fair when it’s time to play? We picked up the controller on Motorstorm: Apocalypse, one of the few games Sony is actually demoing in 3D at its booth, to find out.

The fourth game in the Motorstorm franchise leaves dust and deserts behind in favor of skyscrapers and destruction. The premise: The Motorstorm festival is taking place in a fictional West Coast city that’s crumbling from the inside out, and you’ll race right through the heart of the demolition.

Right from the start of the race, you’ll skim through soccerball-sized boulders, dodge (or run over) pedestrians running for their lives, and that’s only the half of it. Entire sections of the course will collapse while you’re on them, leaving you to crank the wheel last minute to steer your badly dented supercar out of harm’s way.

Although we’ve criticized 3D in some fast-paced action games before, where it serves more to distract and nauseate than add depth to the game, the pace of Motorstorm remains sane enough that the effects never overwhelm. In some cases, the additional sense of depth actually makes it easier to navigate the quickly changing terrain, since you get a better sense how close that next hairpin turn really is, or when you’re about to slam up into the bumper of the SUV ahead of you. Even on collapsing freeways, the 3D serves to heighten vertigo and a sense of falling more than it creates confusion. Developers are figuring out how to use 3D wisely.

The Judgement-Day-in-progress atmosphere of Apocalypse not only makes a significant departure from the far-flung rural tracks from the rest of the series, it should nicely leverage the diverse selection of vehicles Motorstorm is known for. For instance, the supercar we ended up in tore through the remaining paved streets with ease, but choked up on some of the rough terrain and didn’t take too well to a good bashing – which is hard to avoid when the pavement is little crackling beneath your tires.

Obscenely long load times aside, which we hope isn’t a sideffect of 3D, Motorstorm delivers intense-but-digestible urban racing with a lot of the spastic character Motorstorm is known for. If you’re on the edge of springing for that 60-inch 3D goliath, Apocalypse and games like it might be the games that push you over the edge.

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