Cover art (North American version)
|Programmer(s)||John Harvey, Dean Stevenson, Andrea Schiel, Peter Doidge-Harrison, Mark Johnston, Ryan Cleven, John Harvey, Mark Johnson, Peter Doidge-Harrison, Gary Steinke, Yvo Zoer, Tom Heath, Stefan Postuma, Robert Bailey|
Sled Storm is a series of snowmobile racing video games published and developed by Electronic Arts and released in North America on July 31, 1999 and in Europe on August 11, 1999. It gained critical acclaim due to its original concept of being one of the first snowmobile racing titles. The series currently consists of two games, both of which are named simply Sled Storm.
The game features snowmobiles (referred to as sleds), stunts and fourteen snow-covered courses consisting of slippery slopes, inclement weather and treacherous cliffs. Six racers were selectable from the outset and two more were unlockable, each of which had different snowmobile handling attributes.
The game had purchasable upgrades for the riders' snowmobiles which can improve handling, acceleration, among other things. A trick feature was also implemented which was performed by using two shoulder buttons in combination with the direction pad. Whatever combinations of buttons were used would affect what trick was used. It was also possible to multicombo on higher jumps to gain an even higher score. After defeating the mountain races you can unlock the storm sled which is a thin, quick and agile sled capable of outracing even the fastest standard sleds.
Sled Storm offers two forms of racing for both multi-player and solo competition: Championship and Quick Race. Quick Race allows you to jump right into the game on any of the available courses unlocked during the Championship Mode. Players can choose their alter ego from a pool of characters, each with his or her own sled rated in five areas: top speed, acceleration, handling, stability and tricks. Once a player has found the appropriate character, he or she can set the number of laps (from two to nine), time of the race (day or night) and even the weather conditions (clear, snow or rain). Championship Mode involves competing in a series of races that can earn you money as well as open up additional tracks and hidden characters. Two types of championship racing are awaiting you: Open Mountain and the Super SnoCross. The Open Mountain Championship involves straightforward racing down alpine terrain as you try to finish first to receive a cash prize (which can then be used to purchase upgrades in such areas as treads, skis, brakes and spotlights). The Super SnoCross involves racing strictly for points as you string together tricks off the motocross-inspired courses. Earn enough points and you'll be able to unlock additional characters to play as.
Sled Storm also features a Time Trials mode, which has you racing as fast as you can in order to earn a spot on the leader board. Once players have finished the Time Trials, there are a number of customizable features to help tailor the game to individual preferences. After completing a few circuits, you'll be able to mix and match the unlocked courses to form your own custom championship. The AI can also be tweaked by toggling "Catch Up Logic," meaning the CPU-controlled racers will move faster once you pass them. Finally, the multi-player perspective can be set to either a portrait or landscape view to offer more or less of the screen while racing.
Players can also save unlocked characters, upgraded sleds and circuit progress using a memory card with one block free. The game includes support for the DualShock Analog Controller to offer both analog control as well as vibration feedback while racing. In addition, the included soundtrack features songs from the likes of Rob Zombie, Econoline Crush, Uberzone, E-Z Rollers and Dom & Roland. Once players are through thrashin' the slopes, they can pop the disc into a standard CD player and listen to the music.
The first game in the Sled Storm series was released on the PlayStation video game console. The extreme racing element of Sled Storm derived from an earlier Electronic Arts game called Road Rash (1991). While the environments and vehicles are completely different (motorcycles versus snowmobiles and the open road versus alpine courses), there are several similarities. Both titles rely on fast-paced racing with a number of hazards placed in the player's path and include the ability to ram opponents off the track. Both also feature cash prizes that allow the player to purchase faster vehicles. The courses were extensively produced as they contained many shortcuts and alternate routes to complete a level. They could be played with day, night, sunny, and snow settings to make each race experience slightly different.
Sled Storm significantly expanded on the number of features found in Road Rash and was one of the few racing titles for the original PlayStation to include four-player support through a PlayStation Multitap and feature split-screen action with more than two players.
Reception and legacy
Sled Storm was met with critical acclaim upon its release on July 31, 1999. The game received an average score of 83% based on 24 reviews on the review aggregator Game Rankings. Alex C of Computer and Video Games gave the game an average score, although, he praised the game for having a "killer combination of brilliant programming and an idea fresh as a mountain stream." and also claimed that the "vehicle physics" and "exciting course design" made the game "totally absorbing, plus its great to watch.". Electronic Gaming Monthly was positive of the game and commented on how "the crew likes this game – even John, who has previously complained about how horrible Extreme Sports games are and how they all need to die." The game also received the Game of the Month and the Editor’s Choice Silver Award from the publication that same year. GamePro gave the game 4/5 and in the review claimed that "EA offers a user-friendly, high-action racing game for the winter-sports enthusiast who likes to stay warm and cozy." and concluded the review saying "If you like racing games, check this one out. It's low-maintenance winter sport excitement, with an extreme look and feel. Sled Storm takes snow business seriously!" Game Revolution described the game as "a pleasant surprise" and cited that the game "has plenty of big tracks, a variety of tricks and upgrades, and multiplayer support." and also explained how "The level design and character animation are also commendable. The levels are long and showcase a great variety of terrain and creative jumps" in addition praising the audio claiming "The sound effects are good enough to keep your heart pounding as you wind the turns." and ended the review saying "If you are a snowmobile racing fan looking for a snowmobile racing game, then Sled Storm is a must buy. Look no further, this game is for you." Nelson Turac of GameSpot awarded the game a score of 8.1 of 10 and praised the general aspects of the game saying that "the speed, control, and graphics seem to strike an excellent rapport with the gameplay design. The game runs at a crisp frame rate throughout the track, with never any slowdown (even in split-screen mode)." and later applauded the visual effects noting "The graphics overall look solid, and some lighting effects are rather impressive - notably in later stages when night racing becomes available (another challenge gamers must adapt to)." he also praised the audio saying "Their musical offerings blend in well with the game's intense racing mentality, while the sound effects and racer trash-talk seem adequate enough." and concluded the review by saying "For any gamer looking for a uniquely fresh adrenaline rush, Sled Storm makes for one very worthy purchase". Doug Perry of IGN awarded the game 8.0/10 and commended the game saying that "I liked this game from the beginning. It's well designed, smart looking, and realistic as they come." and also added that "From the slick, easy-to-access interface, to the muscular upgrade system, to the deep, well-designed courses, Sled Storm is addictive and fun."
Sled Storm is often recognized as the key title involved in popularizing the snow racing game genre. The idea of the player being able to compete in several different Arctic environments, not only with yourself but with several other players, and perform several different stunts and tricks has been a formula used in many games since. Examples include Ski-doo X-team Racing, Sno-Cross Extreme, Evolution Snocross, SSX and Arctic Thunder. The game is also arguably the reason that EA Sports Big was introduced in the year 2000 as several other titles were created around the design and gameplay of the original Sled Storm[vague].
Sled Storm included a soundtrack which could be played on a normal CD player.
- Rob Zombie – "Dragula (Hot Rod Herman Remix)"
- Econoline Crush – "Sparkle And Shine (Throttle Mix)"
- Econoline Crush – "Nowhere Now (White Out Mix)"
- Econoline Crush – "Surefire (Avalanche Mix)"
- E-Z Rollers – "Cop Theme"
- Dom & Roland – "Chained On Two Sides"
- Dom & Roland – "Thunder"
- Überzone – "Botz (Synthetik Remix)"
- Jeff van Dyck – "Sweet Baby"
- Jeff van Dyck – "That's Grouse"
Sled Storm for PlayStation 2
|Sled Storm for PlayStation 2|
Cover art (North American version)
|Publisher(s)||EA Sports BIG|
|Producer(s)||Steven Rechtschaffner, Kirby Leung, Scott Speirs, Jules Burt, Conor Lumpkin|
|Artist(s)||Terry Chui, Nicholas Tay, Tony Lee, Clint Hanson, Tristan Brett, Gordon Durity, Tim McKenzie|
The second game in the Sled Storm series was released on the PlayStation 2 on March 11, 2002. The gameplay this time around was more similar to SSX. The environments were more interactive than the previous game with a larger amount of shortcuts and alternate paths. An attack button, new to the series, can be used attack opponents in an attempt to knock them off their snowmobile. Again, like the prequel the characters had differing attributes which affect weight, acceleration, and other things. But the storyline for the characters was covered much more in depth. The trick feature in this game was more in extensive and contained a larger amount of possible tricks. It was accessed by using the top four shoulder buttons in combination with the direction pad. The trick meter not only increases the score like the original, but it also charges the newly incorporated "Storm Meter" (which must be charged by performing tricks).
The sequel to the PlayStation's first snowmobile racing game, Sled Storm combines the ability to perform aerial tricks with arcade-style racing down a series of seven snow- and ice-covered courses. As in previous games branded under EA Sports BIG name, performing tricks earns players points used to unlock characters and acquire speed boosts. The eight male and female characters have varying trick abilities and they each have distinct snowmobiles, or "sleds," individually rated in acceleration, top speed, handling, and stability. New sleds for each character can be earned by placing first on the majority of courses.
Modes of play include Single Race on any of the unlocked courses, Multi-Player for a split-screen challenge against a friend, Time Trial, Practice, Championship, and Rival Challenge. Championship is the primary mode in which players unlock courses, characters, and up to five classes of sleds. Each course is raced against five computer opponents in a series of three laps. Players need to finish in a specific position to advance to the next track or achieve a certain point total to unlock one of the characters (only three of which are initially playable). Once a character completes the Championship, the Rival Challenge mode is revealed.
Rival Challenge allows players an opportunity to win another character's sled by racing for it. If victorious in the one-on-one race, the player can add another sled type to a character's roster. If players should lose the race, they forfeit one of their character's sleds offered as collateral. To win back a lost sled, players need to complete the same objective in the Championship mode. The computer randomly selects the course to ensure an even match for each Rival Challenge. Players can toggle the number of opponents and laps for non-Championship races, and unlocked courses, sleds, and characters can all be saved to memory card.
Reception of the game was positive. Some felt it expanded on the original Sled Storm and contained enough fresh content to be a worthy expansion of the game. However, some criticized the game for its lack of innovation. The game received an average score of 72% based on 34 reviews on the review aggregator Game Rankings and the game has a normalized score of 73% based on 22 reviews on the review aggregator Metacritic. Scott Alan Marriott of Allgame ("All Game Guide" at the time) gave the game 3/5, which was a lower score that was awarded to the original PlayStation version, and considered the game offered "simple controls, fast action, and inventive courses with shortcuts so long they almost qualify as completely new tracks." and ended the review saying " Sled Storm may not offer an avalanche of features or a gust of realism, but it won't leave thrill-seeking players, especially those burned by Arctic Thunder, out in the cold with its high-powered action." Joff Brown of Computer and Video Games gave the game a favourable score and in the review noted that game was "Solid, fun sled racing", however, he also felt the game was spoiled by "annoying game mechanics" and claimed the biggest flaw in the game was "in the way it tries to help you." Martin Taylor of Eurogamer was quite critical of the game and even claimed the game "never becomes really particularly interesting or unpredictable." and further added the game gradually becomes "ridiculous and occasionally downright frustrating", he also criticized the design of the game saying that the environments of the tracks "would be more suited to a game like Toon Car" and that "The more sensible tracks have some irritating quirks". He concluded the review noting "What starts off to be a fun little arcade racer turns out to be a sadly wasted opportunity in the wake of far superior alternatives." Giancarlo Varanini of GameSpot cites how "Purists will undoubtedly become frustrated with Sled Storm's unrealistic AI and collision detection issues", however he later noted that despite the problems with games mechanics "it's still quite fun to drive through Sled Storm's unique tracks, which become progressively more insane as you go through the championship mode." he later claimed that "For the most part, Sled Storm looks a lot like SSX" and ended the review saying "Sled Storm uses the SSX formula well, and anyone who enjoys a challenging arcade-style racer should have fun with the game.". David Smith of IGN gave the game a more favourable review then the original PlayStation version and awarded the score 8.5/10. He noted in the review that "EA's artists still have the touch when it comes to interface design, and Sled Storm carries off its over-the-top personality pretty well." he also saw the multiplayer as "great", the graphics "looking very good, with environments comparable to SSX", good rider animation and a solid frame rate in single-player and split-screen." Although, there was criticism towards the gameplay claiming "isn't as integrated into the racing as in SSX", but he still felt the game was "great to drive." He later criticized the soundtrack claiming it "doesn't seem to have as complex a mix as SSX" but later claimed "still a slickly-produced package." He ended the review saying " In the end, it's still an evolution of the PlayStation game, rather than the revolution that was SSX. The EA Big treatment has certainly done wonders for what was already a good racing game, leading to improvements in the track design and lending the franchise a substantial helping of personality, but it remains something familiar done better, rather than something completely new." 
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