The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
As I tore through the dense undergrowth on a remote volcanic island with a giant monster truck tailing me, I realized that I was definitely in a race, but my heart wasn't racing. MotorStorm Pacific Rift is a bigger, better game than the original, but it is far from a turbo-charged, edge-of-my-seat, ass-kicking racer.
The greatest boon for Pacific Rift is the increase in the track sizes -- it's like night and day compared to the first MotorStorm, and there are time-of-day changes, too. The new tracks boast more mud valleys and ridge jumps, which ultimately equates to more diverse routes through a given track. Sometimes you don't always know where a road is going to lead, which can be dangerous if you end up taking your big rig into cavern-jumping territory tailor-made for high-flying and nimble bikes, but that's all part of the fun.
With this increase in size, however, comes an unfortunate side effect. In the first MotorStorm I enjoyed the unpredictable nature of the pack racing that the tighter tracks produced. You never knew if the person ahead of you was going to shred their ride into a million pieces right in front of you. While Pacific Rift does a good job with the AI so you're never really out of the race, this kind of frantic competition is lost since it doesn't take long for the field to spread out over the larger courses.
Perhaps more than anything, however, I wanted to feel a sense of drama from Pacific Rift, and that's largely missing. Sony added a nominal vehicular attack to the left and right shoulder buttons, which causes your ride to swerve into opponents. There are also ways to set your car on fire (and waterfalls douse the flames), but these additions lack the visceral punch this game needs via some wicked, heart-racing set pieces. On one track I barely noticed a collapsing house; I flew right by it like it wasn't even there, and that's a problem for a game in need of some spectacular moments.
As a racer, Pacific Rift hits all the gears -- it just lacks that extra one to kick things into overdrive.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
In life, you have to take the bitter with the sweet. Never was this old saying as true as it is in the case of MotorStorm 2. It had me breaking a sweat as I caromed down tiered mountain passes, keeping my barely in control dune buggy way past the red. Other times, the only thing red was my face as I screamed obscenities at the screen, cursing the big rig that just ran me off the road, a randomly placed rock, or the constant and overlong crash animations. The game has some of the most ingenious track designs I've ever seen. The complex, multi-path courses are pleasingly varied and challenging. It's too bad much of winning or losing depends on random chance. Because it's so easy to wreck and the AI is so aggressive, you often feel like a raft shooting some rapids ? if you happened to survive and place first, it's more because of random physics than your own skill. That's where frustration sets in, a feeling I felt far too often in Pacific Rift. Still, the best moments of this game are as good as it gets.