When Are We Getting A Next-Gen Motorstorm?

Motorstorm smashed its way onto the PS3 as a launch title way back in 2006. I’ll admit, I never played the original. I was a bit late to the party with getting a PS3, but I played the sequels, Pacific Rift, Apocalypse and RC. They were loud, kinetic, and everything I love in arcade racing games.

More than anything, Motorstorm was absolutely gorgeous. Pacific Rift really took advantage of the PS3 hardware to bring its stunning volcanic island setting to life. The game featured four different environmental zones and wickedly chaotic car destruction. They were great games, so why don’t we have a new one already?

The Motorstorm franchise was best known for absolutely outrageous off-road racing, boost so intense it could make cars explode, and phenomenal licensed soundtracks. Unlike most racers which had limited boost you had to earn, Motorstorm gave you an unlimited supply that could overheat your engine and cause your car to blow up if you used it for too long. Managing your boost was therefore key to winning races. Even mismanaging it worked, as exploding propelled your vehicle forward quite a bit, allowing you to edge out the competition at the finish line if you were just lagging behind. Exploding over the line at the last possible second as Tarantula by Pendulum screamed through my TV created a euphoric rush few other games have come close to.

The franchise leaned into this over-the-top action aesthetic to great success. One trailer for Pacific Rift even featured stuntmen driving out of planes on dirtbikes and dune buggies. Evolution clearly knew what these games were about – high octane, adrenaline-pumping carnage. Players had to weave through overgrown jungles, drive through cool surf to stop their engines exploding, slide in mud and dirt, and catch colossal air on vast mountain ridges. Pacific Rift was colourful, fun, and challenging enough to offer hours of playtime.

Apocalypse ditched the off-road setting of its predecessors and opted to bring the chaos to an urban setting. Races took place in a crumbling city that was collapsing in on itself during an earthquake. This meant that tracks would change part-way through a race in a mechanic similar to Battlefield 4’s levolution system. Instead of offering a choice between multiple vehicles as the other games did, Apocalypse forced players to use a specific one for each race. I really liked this change as it meant each race focused on a different play style – I couldn’t just smash through everything with a big rig, sometimes I had to dodge the bigger cars on a quadbike or speed past with a rally car.

It feels like the era of destructive arcade racers is behind us now, which is a huge shame. Split/Second was another game from the seventh console generation that featured huge track-changing destruction. It may have actually inspired Apocalypse, as it featured power plays, set pieces where a player could blow up part of the track to cause other cars to crash or have to take alternate routes. The game was centered around a reality TV show where people raced for fame and fortune, a bit like Death Race 2000 only with less pedestrian killing. Unfortunately, despite critical acclaim, the game was a commercial failure and Black Rock Studio was shut the year after the its release.

These games were all about spectacle, about curating absurd moments that were absolutely impossible anywhere else. They pushed PS3 hardware with astounding results. The combination of licensed soundtracks, gorgeous scenery, chaotic destruction, and speed created some of the most fun racing memories of my teenage years. I still regularly revisit Pacific Rim’s deadly island. Apocalypse is still fun, but I have a soft spot in my heart for Pacific Rim. Behind the menus of the game plays a series of clips that shows the festival that surrounds Motorstorm. Beach cave raves that make that scene from The Matrix look like a Sunday service. People fix cars and then shoot them off an aircraft carrier that’s been repurposed to house the denizens of Motorstorm. It offers a peek into what goes on when they aren’t racing to the death.

Another great thing about these games was they all had a split-screen mode. With Motorstorm it was up to four players. It was definitely hard navigating a collapsing skyscraper or skirting around lava pits with only one-quarter of a screen, but playing with friends made these experiences way more fun. The relative lack of split-screen racing games nowadays feels like another tragic loss from this time period.

If you’re wondering why the Motorstorm games were all PlayStation exclusives – including the 2009 Arctic Edge which released on the PS2, weird – it’s because Sony owns the intellectual property rights. Evolution Studios, the team behind the four PS3 Motorstorm games, was closed by Sony in 2016 despite the commercial and critical success of their games. The talented racing game team landed on their feet though and were acquired by Codemasters, the developers of the popular Dirt and F1 franchises.

So, the original team behind the games still exists, though just under a different name, and the IP is still intact, so Sony could hire them to develop another game, but they haven’t. This could be because Apocalypse was met with low sales. It was due to release in 2011, the same year the Tōhoku earthquake struck Japan. This was the fourth most powerful earthquake ever recorded and caused a tsunami that led to the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown. It would have been absurdly insensitive to release a game about racing through an earthquake just after one, so – rightly – the game’s Japan release was canceled entirely, which definitely hurt overall sales figures.

Perhaps as a response to this, the next Motorstorm game was Motorstorm: RC, a game about racing remote-controlled cars through small tracks, rather than taking monster trucks and lorries through highways or subway stations. It was a lot smaller in scope, but was still a fun little spin-off title. It’s one of the many games that will be lost forever once the PS3 store shuts down.

Motorstorm deserves a full-scale revival. Give us Pacific Rift 2 – or at least a trilogy remaster – and let us cut about an abandoned island while listening to drum and bass. I love arcade racing games, and as fun as it is customising a street car, there’s no substitute for punching rival racers off of their motorbikes while driving through an airplane graveyard. The Ps5 has proven itself to be a console capable of some stunning graphics, and I want to see my driver get boost exploded over the finish line in crisp 4K.

Next: Best Arcade Racing Games Of All Time, Ranked

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Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.

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