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ups: Sled design; solid course design; plays at a good speed.
downs: Computer AI; touchy analog; limited choices at beginning.

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Sled Storm Review (PS2)
game: Sled Storm
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Electronic Arts
developer: EA Canada
date posted: 09:10 AM Tue Jun 11th, 2002
last revision: 01:09 PM Sat Oct 29th, 2005

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By Jake Carter

EA Big brings us another spin from a popular form of recreation. Where SSX takes snowboarding to the extreme, Sled Storm takes the snowmobile there. While not nearly feeling like a finished game, there is still a lot of game play here. With plenty to unlock there is a lot of replay value; you just have to choke through the lack of options in the beginning to find the real heart of the game. Even with all the problems it is defiantly better than Artic Thunder.

As you can see this is not titled Sled Storm 2--even though EA already released a game with the same title for the PSone. This is more of an upgrade than a sequel, taking the basic foundation and twisting the handlebars to represent a whole new style of game. Sled Storm mixes circuit racing with extreme trick performance. In order to succeed you will need to master both your racing skills and your in-flight abilities. Heart attacks and supermen are just a couple of the moves you will be busting out. You can chain various tricks together to get combo bonuses; the higher the points the more turbo you will receive. Accumulating a set number of points will unlock a new racer.

There are a total of seven tracks to race. Each one is large with twists and turns as well as many shortcuts. There are also some areas that are barricaded that only those with nerves of steel or a death wish should go through. At the beginning there is only one track to race. In order to proceed you have to place in the top three to begin with, but soon you will have to win each race to advance. In your way are five other racers determined to win the race. The AI for these racers is quite quirky. They will never be too far away from you. If you crash, they\'re on you. No matter what, you can never get very far away. It might seem as if you\'re ripping up the track and are about to lap someone, but if you fall two people are going to zip past you. If you never crash you are a shoe-in to finish first, so the only person you are competing against is yourself. It just so happens that five other players are on the same track. The biggest challenge is trying to succeed in the race while performing tricks to unlock both the next course and the new character. If you stick to trying to unlock only one or the other at a time, then it becomes too easy and makes the game too short

Sled Storm also allows you to race for pink slips. Once you win the championship mode you will then be able to compete in a race against a rival for ownership of their sled. You can only challenge a sled that is of equal or greater value. There is a catch; if you loose, your opponent gets your sled making you go back to the course in which you earned it and unlock it again. The courses that you will race on are randomized so you cannot race on your favorite track every time. This is an interesting way to play a snowmobiling game and is a welcome addition. This rival challenge is something to definitely work toward.

On the downside, the analog stick\'s response is way too loose. You will find yourself straying off course more times than you would do willingly. This uncontrollable overcorrecting makes it difficult to maneuver through the most vital parts of the track. Control should be the most important aspect developed for a racing game--not an afterthought. You could have everything else perfect, but without solid controls the game just cannot live up to its fullest potential. Those who played the PSOne version will find the trick system has not been changed. It\'s not quite responsive enough, but it\'s suitable to pull off combos if the conditions are appropriate to do so.

If there is any light at the proverbial end of the tunnel it\'s the visuals. Characters look extreme and they seem to fit the EA Big label. As for the sleds, they make the figures seem tame in comparison and definitely look like they perform. The one that you start out with looks and performs like the jalopy it is. As you acquire sleds of more power their look will also follow suit. Tracks are full of things to look at, and there is little pop-up. With all of the information being processed the game still moves at a good speed. Artic Thunder always moved as though it was chaos in a bottle. Sled storm is much more controlled. The audio is the generic formula often used in racing games now. Engines sound like snowmobile engines and fluctuate, as they should when climbing and airborne. Music is fast paced with guitar riffs and a heavy beat. Finishing the audio package is the voices of both the announcers and race participants. One announcer can be pretty annoying, but that is by design. I can live with the hair standing on end whenever his voice is heard.

Those who think about purchasing this game might want to rent it first. Overall the game is not so horrid that no one would want to play it, but it\'s certainly not fantastic either. Early frustrations can kill an otherwise solid game, even if there is something to look forward to. Sled Storm is such a game. Those who play this thinking they will get another SSX will be greatly disappointed. This is for those who walk the line between enjoying racing as well as performing aerial tricks. These will be the gamers who get the most out of this game.