|System: PS Vita, PS3|
|Dev: Evolution Studios|
|Release: March 6, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 544p|
by Josh Wirtanen
When I was a kid, I had this fascination with RC cars. Well, I should say it was the concept of RC cars that I found so fascinating. In practice, my experience with actually driving the things was mostly spent trying to figure out how to not keep running into things and getting stuck against walls. This is an experience that Evolution Studios hopes to re-create, for better or worse, with MotorStorm RC.
The idea here is to take several locations from the beloved MotorStorm series and let players race dozens of RC cars across them. The game's main event is Festival, where you will take on numerous challenges across these courses. For example, Hot Lap has you see how quickly you can take a single lap, Pursuit has you start in last place and attempt to overtake a set amount of opponents as fast as you can, and Drift has you prove to your friends that you have a bit of a rebellious side by using muscle cars to drift around corners. Scoring medals in these challenges will allow you to unlock new vehicles and advance further in the Festival. Of course, if you are too impatient to unlock all of this via gameplay, you can plop down a small chunk of change on PSN to unlock everything at once. Personally, this feels more like a cheap cash grab than anything else, as being able to insta-unlock the entire game takes away a lot of your motivation to keep working toward higher scores.
However, if you have friends that play the game, you will have motivation in another form: anyone on your PSN friends list who plays MotorStorm RC will have their best times listed on each track. This lets you know who is the best MotorStormer among your group of friends. Also, your friends' ghost data will also be present in the races, so you'll have a constant visual indication of how you are doing compared with them. It's a really cool feature that adds a ton of replay value, encouraging you to constantly try to dethrone your friends from the top spot.
Of course, if you get tired of Festival, there are a few other game modes to try in the Wreckreation menu. Time Attack has you select any course and vehicle you've managed to unlock and see how fast you can complete the course. Free Play allows you to set up your own race type, where you get to choose your game mode, course, vehicle, and even your opponents.
If all else fails, there's the Playground, which is an almost Tony Hawk-like skate park for you to freely drive your RC cars around. It's a nice diversion, but it definitely won't hold your interest long. I would have liked to see some sort of scoring element here that rewarded players for hitting ramps and doing things like attempting to sink a car in a dumpster or launch one through a basketball hoop.
Now, when I first started playing MotorStorm RC, I was a little disappointed that the game lacks the behind-the-wheel camera that would make controlling the cars much less difficult. Of course, that was a little silly of me, since this is an arcade RC racer rather than a racing simulator. In fact, the twin-stick controls mimic those on several actual RC controllers, and the various top-down camera angles are sort of what you would be seeing if you were controlling an actual RC car. While this makes the experience feel much more like a real-life RC experience, it takes a little getting used to.
In fact, in my own experience, I found that making some tweaks to the default control scheme made things feels a lot smoother. For example, if you play a lot of shooters, you might want to reverse the control sticks (left stick for acceleration, right stick for steering) to make things feel a bit more natural. Also, I would strongly recommend assigning a dedicated button to your breaks/reverse. (The left shoulder bumper worked for me.) Yes, it makes the controls less true-to-life (as real-life RC cars would generally have you use the same stick for acceleration and reverse), but, trust me, you'll take corners a lot tighter and will win more races this way. Unless you are already an RC enthusiast.
There are some touchscreen controls utilized in the Vita version as well. However, besides navigating the game's menus, you'll be best off completely forgetting they're even there.
The visuals are halfway decent. In fact, some of the landscapes and backgrounds are legitimately impressive, especially on a handheld. The cars themselves, though—which should be the main event—don't look as detailed as I feel like they should. This makes them stand out a bit against the highly detailed environments, which I suppose could be both a good and bad thing.