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-
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.