Sled Storm Review (PS2)
Big Air! Big Tricks! Big Speed! Big Terrain! Big Competition! Just plain BIG! That is what we have come to expect from Canadian developers EA Sports Big! Well, I am here to tell you that they have delivered once again in their latest effort, Sled Storm. But, everyone wants to know. Is Sled Storm nothing more than SSX: Tricky on sleds? At first glance, one might think just that. I can see why too. However, once you get into this game, you will clearly see that Sled Storm is a game all its own.
Immediately upon starting up Sled Storm you realize that this is an EA Sports BIG! title. Everything from the intro movie, menus, courses, characters, and even sleds appear to be ripped strait out of the world of SSX. The detail up close in this game is quite remarkable. The characters have been treated with the same level of detail that you would expect from EA Sports BIG! You will also notice that two boarders from the world of SSX have also joined up with Sled Storm. Those being the wild Zoe and the mentally insane Psymon. I really do not want to dwell on the graphics, because quite frankly this is the part of the game that really resembles SSX Tricky. It is apparent that the two games share the same graphics engine. So basically, if you’ve seen Tricky, then you know what you can expect with Sled Storm. They are that close.
The soundtrack, while limited, is quite fitting. There a few licensed and original Canadian rock tracks. So, for those of you north of the border, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy the music this game has to offer. What I’m really starting like about EA Sports BIG! is the fact that they incorporate DTS 5.1 compatibility in their games. It really adds to the whole experience. You can clearly hear if you have sleds behind you and whether or not they are behind your left or right shoulder. This really helps you to decide which angle you want to take your next turn or corner at. The engine noise, collisions, wind, skids grinding over the ice, and all of the other sound effects in this game really come to live in DTS 5.1. You will not be disappointed.
I know I have compared this game quite a bit to SSX: Tricky, but this is where that all stops. The real difference between the two titles lies in the actual gameplay. Sled Storm is an arcade racer first and foremost. Everything else is second hat. This game is all about speed. It is a very fast paced game that suffers very little from slowdown. The way it controls may take a few minutes to get down, but once you understand it, you will realize that it is quite intuitive. You use X for your throttle, Square for speed boost, L1 and R1 to lean into your turns, L2 and R2 are for your tricks, and Triangle is used in conjunction with your tricks for variation.
Gameplay modes include Practice, Time Trial, Quick Race, Multi-player head-to-head, Championship, and Rival Challenge. Championship is where you will begin with a character and begin your way thru Sled Storm, opening more courses and more characters as you progress. Rival Challenge is a mode that allows you, once you have completed Championship, to race against the computer for pink slips. If you win, you get to keep their sled, if you lose well then, you lose your sled and must go back to Championship mode to regain it. Rival Challenge really is a lot of fun and adds a lot to the gameplay once you have completed the Championship mode.
When you start out, you are given a choice of 3 characters and one course. Each character starts out with a class 1 sled. To open another track you must finish in the top 3 and to unlock a new sled you must finish first. This is pretty much how unlocking the sleds and courses work all thru the game. To unlock new characters, you must meet certain trick point requirements. This is the ONLY similarity in gameplay between SSX and Sled Storm. Tricks are not required to get boost, however it doesn’t hurt. You do have the STORM meter, which is similar to that of the TRICKY meter, but to fill the storm meter you run over objects on the course.
Make no mistake about it, this game is tough! I will wager that you will not become successful in Sled Storm until you fully learn the course at hand. It is imperative in Sled Storm to learn the layout of each of the courses to become successful. These courses, as stated earlier, are packed full of shortcuts, which you must become quite familiar with if you want to finish ahead of the pack. The AI is tough. So tough in fact, many may feel that it cheats. I however, will be the first in line to disagree. I don’t feel that the AI cheats, it’s just that it uses the shortcuts wisely. There are so many shortcuts in this game that many will lead right into another and if you want to stay ahead of the other racers, I’d highly recommend you learn which ones to take and which ones to pass up. I say this because certain shortcuts will bypass others that would have saved you even more time.
All in all, this is a fun game that is easy to pick up, yet hard to be successful. There is no doubt that you will most likely become aggravated at some point in time. If you have the patience to work through that aggravation you will then see the rewards that this game has to offer.
Sled Storm is an arcade racer. I think once people get off of the SSX on Sleds mentality they will really begin to like this game. I cannot stress enough that even though these games look very much alike on the outside, they really are two different animals altogether. Sled Storm is a very fast, action packed racer thru some of the finest environments around. EA Sports Big has once again delivered the big air, big stunts, big hits, and big competition we have come to know and love them for.