What We Liked
Bikes, ATVs, Monster Trucks, Oh My! Go ahead, take your choice of two-wheelers, four-wheelers, big rigs that'll plow straight through anything, and anyone, on the track. They're all available. Not only is it a ton of fun to take each of the eight different vehicle classes for a ride, each one provides distinct advantages that you'll have to match to the course's variables. Want to zip around the track making quick cuts and turns? Ride your bike, weave through traffic, and avoid all contact. If you'd prefer to barrel through the track, hop into a big rig, just don't expect to pull off many hairpin u-turns. The more races you win, the more vehicles you unlock, including the monster truck class, which is every bit as fun as it sounds.
Zone Out: The tracks in Pacific Rift are broken into four zones: Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Each zone boasts a different set of challenges. You'll have trouble keeping your engine cooled amongst the Fire Zone's lava pits, just as you won't have much luck avoiding tangled vines and fallen tree trunks in the Earth Zone. The coolest touch might be in the Water Zone, where you regularly launch off canyons to fly through waterfalls.
2 Fast 2 Furious: Pacific Rift takes full advantage of the greatest word in racing games: "boost." Manage your Boost Gauge properly and you'll never be out of a race. Accelerate using the right trigger, then hold down the "X" button to launch yourself past your competitors. Yes, you should always keep your eyes on the road, but also make sure you check on your gauge from time to time. If your gauge fills up, it's no longer a simple matter of overheating, like in Excitebike. In Pacific Rift, your vehicle explodes into a ball of flames. Sure, it looks totally awesome when you explode, but obviously, it's not the best way to go about winning races.
Off the Beaten Path: It doesn't matter how you get to the finish line, so long as you're the first one there. The various paths you can take throughout each track helps up the replay value, which isn't always easy with a racing title. Another little trick that keeps each course fresh comes in the form of minor graphical flourishes -- if you or someone else on the course is using one of the aforementioned big rigs, they'll demolish certain elements of the track's terrain. Those changes, be it a flattened tree or busted down fence, will remain that way for the duration of the race.
Four Eyes: Split screen mode -- be it two player or four player -- will test you, your friends, and your supply of Pepto Bismol. Trying to follow the action of four different high speed races may make you a little nauseous. Still, it's nice to see a game not completely forget about the human element of multi-player competition at the expense of online play.
Twisted Metal: The crash penalties are like a commissioner Roger Goodell suspension: stern but fair. While you enjoy watching the flapping metal that used to be your vehicle splinter into pieces in HD graphics, you will lose more than a couple of spots in the race standings for flying off course. For those weaklings looking to cop out of a bind, you can reset the track at any point when you drive under 30 miles per hour. (We have to admit to using that feature a couple of times early on. And later on. And the last time we played the game before we wrote this review.)
Punch Out: When you're roughing it on a bike, you can ride up next to other racers and punch them. When you're rocking a four-wheeler, you can ram cars off the track. Not only does this add a goofy little mini-game to each race, it also provides a new strategy to stave off the competition on the homestretch.
What We'd Change
Take It Personal: There's not a lot you can do to distinguish your rider. Pick from a group of stock characters dressed in various rider garb like helmets, goggles and bandanas. After that, you can unlock more riders, but there's nothing in the way of customization. In terms of vehicles, it's the same deal: win races, unlock rides. But you can only make minor adjustments to each vehicle's paint jobs once you've added them to your garage.
Out of Control: The controls can be a little loose. When you lay on the toggle stick, the hyper-sensitive controls can make you feel like you're skidding around on ice. The issue is most glaring when you're trying to restart after a crash. Like most racing games, though, you'll get used to the steering the more you ride around.
Second Verse, Same as the First: The Trophy Case is where you can track all of your accomplishments within the game. While the second build greatly improves upon the original MotorStorm's replayability, it still lacks creativity. Winning 50 times in each type of car is definitely a time consuming challenge, but not necessarily a dynamic one. The new tests are welcome, but we'd like to see even more variation when volume three comes around.
Racing game enthusiasts will love the second installment of Sony's MotorStorm. Tons of rides, longer courses, shortcuts galore -- you'll never run out of ways to attack each course. There's plenty of explosive action -- and exploding cars -- but the core of the game is the race and Pacific Rift does racing right.
-- Reviewed by Paul Ulane, SI.com