Evolution Studios’ Motorstorm is one of the first, finest and most fondly remembered of launch titles for PlayStation 3. It’s a release designed to answer the question posed by each new console generation: what makes a game ‘next-gen’? With its robust physics engine and massive tracks, Motorstorm serves up a bold affirmative answer to this question, delivering an experience that could never have existed on prior console hardware. At the same time, the path to release was fraught with challenges that almost serve as a microcosm of the PlayStation 3 release situation itself. It was a success, however, with a trilogy of PS3 releases, plus PSP, Vita and even PS2 off-shoots.
Originally known as ‘Stampede’, Motorstorm was originally envisioned as a celebration of dirt racing featuring asymmetric vehicle battles, massive tracks and complex physics simulation with up to 48 vehicles in a single race. The goal was to create something worthy of the ‘next-generation’ label but there was just one problem – the next-generation platform it was being designed for was nowhere near ready and things would get a whole lot worse before they got better, and that’s where the infamous ‘target render’ from Sony’s E3 2005 press conference comes into view.
This now infamous showing blew people away at the time, promising a level of fidelity that seemed impossible – and that’s because it was. Phil Harrison famously took the stage during the show presenting games that were in-development via the use of bombastic trailers. Motostorm’s short trailer featured unbelievable chaos, physics and destruction as a herd of vehicles storm their way across the landscape. For the Evolution Studios crew back in Runcorn, England, however, what should have been an exciting moment for the team with the announcement of their next game, turned into a moment of panic when Phil Harrison himself suggested to the press that this Motorstorm trailer represented actual gameplay. It didn’t.