In spite of these oddities, the driving is good fun, and the Festival doesn't limit you to standard races. Time Ticker races are a cool new addition to the series in which racers possess a point total that's ticking ever upward. Your total rises more quickly the better your position, which lends immediacy to the race, since you want to get in first--and stay there as long as possible. Even the usual checkpoint-based speed challenges seem more enjoyable in Arctic Edge, since each lap is completely different and may send you on a route that you may not be accustomed to driving in that particular vehicle. The larger array of vehicles, a host of unlockable goodies such as movies and drivers, and an in-game achievement system lend both variety and structure to the single-player experience, which are welcome improvements to the less interesting offline modes of the PS3 games.
In addition to the Festival's races, you can also challenge the AI in one-off races and Time Ticker events, as well as tackle courses backward, which will make you appreciate the care and precision that goes into creating them. If you want to test your skill and improve your times, you can set your pace by choosing a ghost to join you in Time Attack mode. Ghosts are visual representations of another vehicle's lap, and you can challenge yourself with your own prior attempts, try to beat the lap times of Arctic Edge's developers, and download other players' ghosts--assuming you can access Arctic Edge's online features. Currently, connecting to the game's online aspects is an exercise in frustration. Using four different Internet connections, the game locked and the system crashed in all but one attempt to play online, and other players are reporting the same occurrence. In time, these issues might be addressed, but for now, exercise caution: The advertised online play may not function properly for you. If you crave the challenge only other players can provide, six-player ad hoc mode is the safer bet. You may notice some collision detection quirks in local multiplayer, but they're unlikely to hamper your enjoyment of Arctic Edge's zippy races.
And boy do they feel zippy. The almost-in-control physics and impressive sense of speed are enhanced by a consistently smooth frame rate, even when the snow is heavy and the screen is crowded. This smoothness is an impressive feat, considering how attractive the game is. Some areas are on the plain side and the vehicles look chunky, but many courses are packed with meticulous details, such as hot air balloons floating in the distance, sharp-edged stalagmites, and splatters of mud and snow on the screen. Pretty lighting, an exemplary draw distance, and lovely weather effects make Arctic Edge a pleasure to look at. Its sound design isn't exceptional, perhaps because the licensed soundtrack, featuring artists like Queens of the Stone Age, The Chemical Brothers, and The Prodigy, doesn't hit the right spots in the way previous MotorStorm soundtracks have. On the flip side, the lively sound effects totally nail the wildness of the racing.
It's a testament to Arctic Edge's intricate tracks and energetic racing that its notable problems are so easy to overlook. Aside from its online issues, this is what you'd expect from a MotorStorm game in portable form, and the multifaceted courses and vehicle variety provide plenty of reasons to keep returning, even after you've completed the Festival. If you want to kick up some snow and dirt, this is a fun way to do it.