Picks and pans: 'MotorStorm: Apocalypse' and 'Outland'
MOTORSTORM: APOCALYPSE Publisher: Sony System: Sony PlayStation 3 Price: $59.99 Age: Teen Rating: 3 1/2 stars "MotorStorm: Apocalypse" moves the series' rough-and-tumble racing action from the rugged natural locations of the first two games to a ...
System: Sony PlayStation 3
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
"MotorStorm: Apocalypse" moves the series' rough-and-tumble racing action from the rugged natural locations of the first two games to a nameless city stricken by an earthquake. (The game was originally to have come out in mid-March, but was delayed by Sony after the March quake in Japan.)
As usual for the series, players can choose from vehicles ranging from motorcycles to monster trucks (with a few new categories added this time) to take on the game's tracks. But this time, aftershocks crumble and change the courses, and the people who haven't left the city -- and the security forces sent to force them out -- are only too happy to harass the racers.
The new setting brings with it a story mode featuring several racing figures within the game's fictional extreme racing group. It's not great literature, and the motion comics that bookend each event are poorly animated, but the races themselves are quite fun and come in several varieties. Aside from the story mode, players may customize recreational races or take their driving skills online.
System: Microsoft Xbox 360 (Xbox Live download)
Price: $9.99 (800 Microsoft Points)
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
"Outland" combines a visual style reminiscent of "Patapon" with the exploration of the "Metroid" games and the polarity-based attack and defense of "Ikaruga." As a nameless hero tasked with defeating two sisters -- one of light, one of darkness -- who seek to end the world, the player explores large levels rendered in black -- the backgrounds are shaded and colored, and the hero and his enemies have colored highlights, but the majority of the world is in silhouette.
The hero starts out fairly ordinary but quickly starts gathering powers that allow him to expand his abilities and reach. The most important powers are those of light (blue) and darkness (red) -- once he has both these powers, the hero can swap between them at will to harmlessly absorb like-colored projectiles, activate like-colored switches and platforms, and harm opposite-colored enemies.