MotorStorm RC could be Vita's first PSN must-have
After the big-budget explodamageddon of MotorStorm: Apocalypse made PlayStation 3s buckle earlier in the year, I wouldn't have predicted Evolution Studios' next game to be a cheeky little downloadable racer based around teeny-weeny remote controlled cars.
But here we are: MotorStorm RC was announced this week as part of Sony's ritzy Vita Room showcase in some bright London swankhole much too cool for a person like me. It's a downloadable title being released in time for the Vita's European launch in February 2012, and Evolution Studios is looking to supplement it with at least six months worth of post-launch DLC.
The dual analogue sticks are used to control the speed and direction of the vehicle, much like the actual remote for one of these cars only without that bit of wire dangling out of the top. The Vita and PS3 have very different analogue sticks, though - I'm left wondering how difficult it might be to adjust if you get the hang of MotorStorm RC's feel on one platform and then try and pick it up immediately on the other.
Still, let's not try and run before we can walk, eh? There's no point in wondering about the exact minutiae of muscle memory impacting the leaderboard performance across multiple hardware configurations when I can't even take a bloody hairpin turn properly.
Even with the three relatively easy maps I was shown it takes a little time to get a feel for the basics. Playing MotorStorm RC feels, well, zippy - steering with the analogue sticks helps it stand out in a launch line-up comprised almost entirely of racing games, and the teeny-weeny engine noises sound particularly jolly, like your car is being powered by a couple of agitated bees.
There are eight different vehicle types, including buggies and big rigs, but I spent most of my time with the super-mini - which buzzes along happily when you're going down straights but has quite a wide turning circle. You've got to go into it with plenty of time, though it's still very easy to oversteer and end up with your bonnet smooshed into the wall.
Hot Lap events paint the racing lines of either your next medal or, if you've already bagged gold, three of your friends. If you plump for the 3G Vita model you can access and update leaderboards on-the-fly, and MotorStorm RC also includes the Pitwall, a social platform similar to EA's Autolog which makes it easy to check exactly what your friends are up to.
I also had a hard time with the default camera angle, and once the camera is zoomed out the game feels a lot more pleasant to play. I found it a lot easier to properly hit the apex of most corners, or maybe that's just because I spent my youth playing Micro Machines.
Lead designer Paul Rustchynsky told me games like Micro Machines and Mario Kart were a huge influence on MotorStorm RC, and the studio looked to creating a top-down view similar to Codemasters' classic 16-bit gem but decided to make it more isometric after players found it too difficult to accurately gauge distance.
Nothing here is really groundbreaking or original in the way that the games industry likes to report, but it looks to be good, simple fun - it gives you that earnest joy derived from a nice set of core mechanics that we all have such a hard time getting excited about. Evolution Studios is also hinting that MotorStorm RC is also going to be released at a very competitive price, and if it's low enough it could very well become a complete no-brainer to anyone purchasing a Vita next year - remember how everybody who picked up a 360 at launch simply had to purchase Geometry Wars? This could be like that.