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May 04, 2011

Apocalypse Precedes 'Apocalypse'


First, the bad news: Evil trolls hacked into Sony's PlayStation Network. These criminals reportedly got their hands on gamers' passwords, email addresses and possibly even credit card information.

This Sony apocalypse is precisely why I never buy anything through PlayStation Network or Xbox Live. I've always felt a Jedi-like intuition that hackers would someday crack the vault at one of those online networks.

If you're an online PS 3 gamer, you should definitely consider changing your bank, credit card and email password if it's the same as the one you use for your PS 3 online purchases. And obviously, keep an eye on your credit card statements.

Meanwhile, Sony shut down the PlayStation Network in order to rebuild its security system.

As a result, we PS 3 gamers haven't been able to play online, and that's devastating to new PS 3 titles that millions of us want to spin online.

Now the good news: One of those games is the racer "MotorStorm: Apocalypse" and it will be fun to play online after Sony clears up its mess.

I have played "Apocalypse" both offline and online (during critic testings) and it's nearly great, though not quite as appealing as the past few "MotorStorms."

The essential feel of "MotorStorm" is the same as in previous titles in the series, but the setting is urban, not the usual desert and mountain vistas.

In offline racing, incredible things happen. Smokestacks plunge down in front of your car, and you have to avoid them. And you must race across rooftops featuring ramp-jumping.

The tracks are cool. On one, you race along a long double-decker bridge that's fallen apart in places. So one moment, you're racing on the top deck, then suddenly your car falls down onto the bottom deck, and you must weave around an obstacle course of smashed cars and debris.

Here's my complaint. My cars, ATVs, Jeeps and trucks get stuck on some urban rot. (My motorcycles do not.) That is, I'll be driving fast, and then my car gets inexplicably stuck, at zero mph, stupidly wedged against a stray rock on the street.

You'd think that would make me lose a race, since other drivers whir past me. But in many races, I crashed or got stuck 10 times in one race and still won.

I even won races without using turbo gas. Fortunately, the game does get harder the farther you progress. But it's pretty easy for long stretches.

The real appeal is the online multiplayer, as is always the case with "MotorStorms." These online roads also suffer occasional, car-sticking debris. But the online mode is rad, nonetheless, especially driving spectacular, smooth and fast motorcycles.

I just implore online multiplayers to create unique passwords, and proceed skeptically with credit card information. A few weeks ago, you would have called me paranoid. I'd say, "prescient and paranoid."

("MotorStorm: Apocalypse" by Sony retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays fun offline and online. Looks great. Easy offline; challenging online. Rated "T" for crude humor, drug reference, language, suggestive themes and violence. Three and one-half stars out of four.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.

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