With Sony giving the PSP a much needed release line-up boost earlier in the year, PSP gamers have a lot to look forward to over the coming months. One of those games is MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, due for release before the year's end on PSP and PS2. We caught up with Richard Ogden, Game Director at BigBig Studios to get his take on if the game will be a cut above the competition and why the team chose to do something new with the series' debut on PSP.
VideoGamer.com: Why choose the Arctic as the setting and not something gamers are familiar with from the PS3 games?
Richard Ogden: I think firstly we made a conscious decision not to just do a port. We felt the PSP deserved its own version of MotorStorm. Doing a port would have been, maybe not the easy option, but not the most appealing thing, both as a developer and perhaps the games buying public. Initially we definitely wanted to look at something different, not just picking tracks from the other two games and porting them over. Then it was just a case of looking at what other typical environments do you get in video games. The jungle level and the desert level, they're done, so a snow level seemed like one of the most obvious to pick.
VideoGamer.com: What can gamers expect from the setting?
RO: One of the reasons it was appealing is that it immediately threw up ideas for other vehicle types, so we've got the snow machine and the snow cat - that's two new vehicle types. Plus there were ideas for different environmental events or gags, so the things we're putting into the game are triggered avalanches. So you're driving along certain hazard marked areas, you can then beep your horn or explode your vehicle, create a loud noise and you can have an avalanche crashing down the mountainside which can wipe out other vehicles.
VideoGamer.com: In terms of game structure, will the game resemble what's gone before or are you trying something new?
RO: I'd say it's fairly similar, so you've got the Festival mode, with races within it that you progress through. That's the main single-player experience, yeah.
VideoGamer.com: A few people were disappointed that Arctic Edge isn't being developed by Evolution. What would you say to those people to reassure them that this is going to be a proper game in the MotorStorm series?
RO: Well, I'd say Evolution hasn't done any PSP games and we've previously done two. We've always had quite a strong link with Evolution - prior to being acquired by Sony they were our parent company. We have pretty close links with them, we share code and what not, and we've been well aware of the MotorStorm games before they were even in the public eye. That close link allows us to talk to the game directors there and we can get code, so it's a very easy kind of relationship to utilise.
VideoGamer.com: MotorStorm on PS3 wouldn't be what it is without the massive environments and jaw dropping scenery. How are you going to live up to this level of expectation gamers have considering the huge difference in horsepower between the PS3 and PSP?
RO: There's some of that. There are some areas where you've got the face the fact that it's on the PSP, so in terms of performance, graphical fidelity, it's not going to look like the PS3 version. One thing that comes in there is the long draw distances, the massive vistas, where you're at the top of a cliff jumping off and seeing really far into the distance. One of the reasons we chose the Arctic environment is that it seemed to fit our plans for track design, which would enable us to close things in a little more in places. That's not to say that we don't have some nice distant views, but they're done in a little more of a cheating way.