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reviews >> playstation 2

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: EA Sports BIG
Developer: EA Games
Year Released: 2002
Players: 1-2
ESRB Rating: Everyone

Visuals 9
One of the best looking PS2 games I've seen in a long time. Sharp textures, great car models and no jaggies. EA did good on this one.
Audio 8
Why in the hell are there only 3 music tracks? And it's not even randmoized! Decent engine sounds.
Gameplay 8.25
It really hurts this game when you can offer only three main courses, and do slight vairations to them ala Ridge Racer to make it seem like there's a lot more to do. There are more environments rally drivers go through than ice and snow, jungle terrain and a desert landscape. The cars drive pretty well, but the powersliding could have been more refined. I like the idea of the "Shox Zones", and I hope we may see something similar to that in another game sometime in the future.
Replay Value 7.5
There's basically a championsip mode and not much else other than some multiplayer support. There's not even a time trial. It's not a very long game in theory, but the difficulty will keep you playing longer.
Reviewer's Impression 7.5
This is probably one of the weakest EA Big entries simply because they didn't do enough to the sport to radically change it. There are the Shox Zones, but that's about it. Other than that, it's a pretty standard rally game.
Overall 8
Shox is an interesting game to try, but there's just a huge lack of options, modes and even environments to keep this game going in the long run.

When I heard this game announced a few months back, I was under the impression that it was going to be on the Gamecube as well as the PS2, and I held out a long time waiting for that version. But in usual fashion, dedicated GCN gamers get screwed out of another rally racer. But then I tend to forget I have a PS2, and I really need more games for that system so for $20, it seemed like a try. My experience with Shox has become a love/hate relationship. The first copy I bought was defective. Never have I bought a brand new game and find out it was defective. It's happened with used games, but never with new ones. It's also funny that it was the first time I bought something from Circuit City, which that leaves a very unfavorable impression as well. At least the return policy was painless. So after getting a second copy, the game finally works, and so the swears begin.

Shox is pretty much typical racing with a twist. Under the EA Big line, you may expect some over the top racing like Freekstyle or SSX Tricky, but Shox really doesn't turn the world of rally racing on it's ear, other than the Shox Zone feature, which is pretty innovative compared to other arcade racers. The Shox Zone is a specific area in which you need to drive as fast as you can to earn a lot of cash. Based upon how fast you clear the area, you'll recieve a bronze, silver or gold ranking for the zone. If you get a gold ranking for each of the 3 zones in the race, you'll unleash the Shoxwave, which fattens your wallet even more. If you race with a specific car (it will display it on the stage select) and get all 3 gold Shoxzones, you earn a platinum rating, and unlock a special car which comes in handy. On top of getting the cash, you'll need to place a certain average for the level to progress, and a 1st place average for a trophy. And about the cash, you'll need it to gamble or buy a new car.

To earn cars, there's a couple of ways you can go about it. You can gamble for it, or buy it. In most cases, you'll gamble since it costs a lot to buy the car. When you gamble, you'll have to go on a one on one duel with a CPU racer, and beat it to win the car. Lose the race, the gamble will be halved and you have to race again. But winning the cars seems a bit unbalanced. While you do race in the same cars, the level of difficulty seems different between cars. Some you don't even have to try (which is good, since you won't waste money or time), but then some are ball breakers. The one I had the worst time with was the 2000 Impreza, which took me at least 20 times, maybe more to win. But the 2002 Impreza was no real task at all. What gives? The whole game seems like that. Some stages seem easier and some seem harder, and the AI opponents are way too aggressive. This leads to swearing. You may want to ask others to leave when you boot up this game. I can turn an E-rated game to an M one so easy.

The graphics are suprisingly sharp for a PS2 game. It finally seems like developers have found the anti-aliasing capabillity that was so hard to tap into the PS2. I really never saw any jagginess in the whole game. The texture work is pretty well done, but you can tell it's a PS2 game. They seem a bit washed out and not as detailed as a GCN game. The cars are pretty good looking, and the cars can take some pretty realistic damage modeling, but you can't trash them nearly as much as you could in Rally Fusion. The framerate is fast and smooth. The game flows like a Ridge Racer V- like rally.

The sound is adequate, if not repetitous. All the cars tend to sound similar, and strangely enough, like angry bees. The music only has three different tracks, one for each environment, and that can grow old rather quickly. It's decent techno, but there could have been more of it.

Shox, in a odd way, seems to be one of the weaker EA Big offerings. I did end up playing it more than Sled Storm, but it lacks the intensity the label represents. It is fast, and it does have some new ideas, mainly the Shox Zones, but when you compare it to Freekstyle or the SSX series, Shox seems like another entry into the crowded racing field. Arcade fans will want to give this a shot, but it's harldy the rally sime the world's been waiting for. If you want some depth in your rally experience, try Rally Fusion, V-Rally 3, WRC or the new Colin McCrae Rally 3. Personally, I would like to give WRC a shot. Shox is far from terrible, but other than the Shox Zones, it's racing that most of us has been all too familliar with.