PS3 fans rejoice - the sequel to the excellent PS3 launch title MotorStorm is inbound, and, going by the two track demo available at Sony's recent PlayStation Day in London, it's coming along like a monster truck speeding down a pacific mountain. Funny that, considering Evolution Studios' hotly anticipated follow-up is set on a pacific island and features monster trucks. We put our foot down and parked up beside Nigel Kershaw, MotorStorm Pacific Rift's game director, to grill him on the off-road racing game to end all off-road racing games.
VideoGamer.com: Is MotorStorm more popular in the US than it is in the UK?
Nigel Kershaw: We tried to make it US centric, simply because we spent a long time writing rally games, as you know, that the Americans just don't get. There's a lot of things to rally games that we think by redressing it all up and making it beautiful and much more energetic and violent, that we could tap into that US market.
The sales are pretty much even throughout all the territories, which is great for us. The Europeans understand what we do and understand the type of games we make, and the Americans now have a taste of this sort of game with Motorstorm. It's not WRC but it's the spiritual successor to WRC.
VideoGamer.com: Is the off-road racing genre more popular in the US than in Europe?
NK: To some degree, yeah. It's an off-road racing game but the thing with MotorStorm is we wanted to make it great fun. It's first and foremost a game. The way we go about writing MotorStorm, with the whole player centric thing, the whole danger, the action, the monster trucks is just so people have a great time playing it and don't necessarily get hung up on what genre it's in. It's great fun, it's entertainment.
VideoGamer.com: Is MotorStorm Pacific Rift pushing the PS3?
NK: The first game pushed the PS3, this is pushing the PS3, our next game is going to push the PS3. It's not so much about pushing the hardware, it's about learning how to use the hardware in the best possible fashion. We're in the enviable position that we've already written a game that's been released and been very successful on the PS3. We've realised we've just scratched the surface of what we could actually do with the machine. And I'm sure next time around we'll learn a lot more from MotorStorm Pacific Rift.
What you're looking at now (PlayStation Day demo) is pre-alpha code, so it's starting to look quite nice, but I'm quite picky. This is nothing compared to what it's going to look like when it's released. But the look is only half of it. The power of the PlayStation gives us the ability to do a lot more interactivity with the world. MotorStorm was set in the desert. It was beautiful but there wasn't much there, that was the whole point why we picked it. And the reason why we picked a tropical location was not only could we paint a beautiful gameplay picture, we could also add a lot of interactivity to the whole world. So things like water, vegetation and lava, things like that, play a real key, central role in the gameplay. That's where the power lies. It's not just about making things pretty. It's making things interactive and pretty in a very different way. It's the first generation where we could conceivably go, hey let's put water in there and let you drive through water and have vehicles and bikes being swept away, about having vegetation you use that certain vehicles can crush but others can't, you just couldn't do this sort of thing before now.
VideoGamer.com: We hear a lot about the power of the PS3, but when it comes down to it, what can it do that the Xbox 360 can't?
NK: It's just a great machine. Now we've spent a lot of time with it we're starting to make it sing under the hood. Actually the first and second generation of games that we've seen on the PS3 are just people starting to learn how to make great games for it. It's a long race. Now that developers are starting to write their second or third game, they're starting to untap the power that's within there. It's a clever machine. Not as simple to write for as other things but there's lots of cool things you can do under the hood with it that's just great. Don't get me wrong, good gameplay is not just about visuals, but it really helps. It really helps selling it into a market.
It's also the fact that Sony is willing to take risks with things and do interesting things. MotorStorm was a launch title for the PS3 and we just came along with something brand new and different and they said yeah, run with it and go with it. It's not just about the power of the console, it's about the company that runs it. Will they be adventurous with the games that they make? You look at things like Home, even stuff like Echochrome, little quirky things that work really well and stretch the boundaries of what you can do with a console. And the whole connectivity, the fact that it's all online. There's just so many little things in there that give you as a games designer, so much more to play with. It's really good. I started on the SNES and it's only now that you can actually start realising things that you really want to happen in a game. Now it's like, oh I want to do this and I can do this, whereas before it was like, sod that, what ways can you make it look good. Now you can make it interesting, be really adventurous and creative and not worry too much about whether the machine is capable of doing something or not.