Offline, you'll get the same options, of course; the ability to alter wheels, lights, exhaust, pain jobs, bumpers and the like. Sure, they're just cosmetic, but they'll help you look pretty when snapping photos and of course you can make a name for yourself by decking out your beefy snowplow in hilariously gaudy paint. That's something... right? There are also plenty of Badges for finishing first, for taking your first pic, for... well, lots of firsts, really. They don't have the meta aspect of Trophies, but they're definitely something to keep you racing if you're the completist type.
All the bonuses in the world won't do squat if the game itself isn't actually fun to play and this is where Arctic Edge truly does shine. Multiple paths? Check. Destructible terrain via horn honks to cause avalanches or driving heavy vehicles across ice bridges that lighter vehicles could normally use? Check and check. Vehicle-specific routes? Check. Huge jumps? Check. Exploding across the fin-eh, you get the idea.
This is exactly the kind of experience you've come to expect from MotorStorm, right down to the way individual vehicles handle. Snowpluggers replace their muddy variants from the first two games, and join snowplows and snowmobiles as new vehicle types, though that only means ATVs, bikes, buggies, rally cars and big rigs are most definitely back to mix things up. The same jostling for position, the same use of heavier vehicles to wreck others and the same careful use of the boost mechanic (augmented by the addition of deep snow in addition to water to help cool the meter faster) are all in play here.
The real key to it all feeling like MotorStorm, though, is in how the vehicles handle and how the tracks branch off. There are, as is made quite apparent in the later ticket races (and, yes, make no mistake, this is a MotorStorm game and things get incredibly tough toward the end, though with far less of the AI trying to drive through you than in previous games) a very obvious and ideal path for specific vehicles. Take a path into the mud with a bike or buddy, for instance, and you'll get to watch racers pass you by like you're... well, like you're driving in mud with a thin-wheeled vehicle like an idiot. Conversely, the lumbering pace of a big rig or snowplow can be mitigated a bit by destroying some of the alternate routes of lighter vehicles by driving over ice bridges. And of course there's nothing like leaving the pack nipping at your heels in a torrent of snow by blaring your horn while traversing a mountain pass, though these locales are usually revealed by one of the AI racers doing it to you first on an earlier track.
What's truly impressive is just how well bigBIG has managed to convert a game that was so synonymous with next-gen visuals and surface deformation (it doesn't exist here, by the way) into something that pushes the PSP hardware and still manages to look impressive. There's a gritty feel to things, necessitated by the PSP's graphics, of course, but the copious amounts of snow at higher elevations looks fantastic and the game runs as a fairly solid clip most of the time, replete with those big air moments -- some of which come with an accompaniment of fancy laser light shows on the sidelines as the petrol-and-otherwise-risen audience cheers you on.
The soundtrack, again, is also very, very good, with the Celldweller remix of MotorStorm mainstays Pendulum serving as the "title" anthem and backed up by the likes of Motorhead, The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, among others, effectively maintaining the high-energy feel of the previous games. That extends to the sound effects for each of the vehicle types, right down to the whine of turbo blasts and the warning blare of redlining when you do so.
At the risk of exposing my pure laziness, I'm also going to lump this PS2 version into this review as an addendum. There's not a whole lot to say about it as it's effectively the same core game, but lacks any of the online modes, making all the customization essentially moot, though it does have some extra reflective effects on the icy parts of the game and boasts the slightly inconsistent framerate (both versions are minor in their bucks of the normal 30fps), but has cleaner, higher-res textures to account for it. The lack of online really does hurt the longevity of things, though, and I'm merging the two reviews to better illustrate why the PSP version is the one to get... unless you don't have a PSP in which case the PS2 one is certainly no slouch.
MotorStorm: Arctic Edge, regardless of platform, is an entry that does the PS3 versions proud. They retain everything that made their multi-branching levels and different handling characteristics of each vehicle some of the most compelling off-road racing you can find anywhere, and they really are a racing game that everyone should try -- and yes, that includes you PS3 owners.