Back in 1999, Sled Storm bursted onto PS1 consoles as the first snowmobile game
on the market. Despite the lack of competition at the time, Sled Storm was a remarkably
fun and challenging racer, even though it had a horrible pop-up problem. But the
design of the game was rather brilliant, and a refreshing change of pace from
street racing or motocross. A year later, a couple other snowmobile racers hit the
market, as well as Midway's Artic Thunder in arcades. None of those games caputured
the same gameplay mechanics as EA's hit, and Sled Storm was the snowmobile racer
to beat for a couple of years.
Then flash forward to 2002, when EA releases: Sled Storm. Huh? I thought sequels
were usually denoted by a number or catchy sub-title. Already, EA has caused a
bit of confusion. The other part goes to the fact that the game looks almost like
SSX Tricky. As a part of the EA Big series, Sled Storm ditches the semi-realism
the first game had and trades it off for frantic arcade action. This didn't
strike me as a smart decision. But still, Sled Storm was still worth looking at.
And then when Target had it on sale for $9.99, well what the hell, why rent when
you can own for almost the same cost.
But you may wonder, is Sled Storm (2) worth owning? For many, no. It's not a
good enough sequel for everyone to go run out and by. While not a bad game, Sled
Storm's new direction may upset fans of the series, but may gain newcomers. Being
under the EA Big label means that courses are bigger, badder, trickier and more
irritating than the normal fare. Much like the later Freekstyle, Sled Storm's
courses are long. Very long. 3-5 minute laps long. I don't like this. To me, I
would rather have 10-12 shorter courses than these gigantic beheamouths. When
courses are so big that it takes 20 minutes to finish, I feel that playing a game
like this is a tedious effort, especially when you lose. The previous Sled Storm
had shorter courses, and mor of them. And they didn't feel monotonous as the new
ones do. While the courses show some sparkle, they also seem way over the top, and
almost trashy at times. It doesn't really fit with the theme for some reason. There's
also a lot of split paths, too. But some are actually longer than the beaten path,
which makes you question the logic of a "short cut".
Sadly, the main course of Sled Storm is the championship, which contains the
six courses. You can also gain other riders and race in time trials, plus gain
new snowmobiles, but really, that's all. I would have liked to have seen a freestyle
mode like Freekstyle had, but it's too late for could-have's. With such limited
gameplay, I feel that the $9.99 pricetag was well suited for this game. It just
seemed so empty.
The graphics are actually pretty good, but not phenominal. Lots of color and
weird landscapes is the order of the day, as well as some strange lighting in some
areas. As odd as it seems, a game with a look like this would be more at home on
the Gamecube, considering that consoles saturation of color. The framerate is nice,
and I believe is flowing at 60 fps. Character animations and models are good, but
nothing notable. As for sound, it seems like the game uses techno from places
unknown. Nothing memorable and nothing noteworthy. Seeing how SSX Tricky had a
great music roster, why does Sled Storm recieve scraps? And here's something that
will make a good piece of trivia, actor Matthew Lillard is an announcer in this
game. Perhaps that's why we didn't get licensed music.
While Sled Storm is nice to pick up and play every once in ahwile, it's game-
play package leaves a lot to be desired. But it still out does other racers in the
genre such as Artic Thunder and the recent Whiteout. If you need every EA Big game
or really love long courses, then Sled Storm may be for you. But for many, try
before you buy. It's not for everyone.