STAFF REVIEW of Arctic Thunder (Xbox)

Monday, January 14, 2002.
by Stephen Cameron

Arctic Thunder Box art I really think that Midway staff members come from ?The Great White North?, why? Because they seem to make the best arcade-like titles from us winter folk, the previous Xbox title NHL Hitz 20-02 and now this one, Arctic Thunder. This game is a high-speed snowmobile combat game. Period. It doesn?t have a deep story, like in a stretched-o
lled soap opera. Now, at first glance you might say, ?What? Snowmobiles and rockets???Where I live, there are snowmobiles EVERYWHERE; it?s big business here, thus, making this game fit right in! The game has 19 sleds to choose from (which you have to unlock), and enough levels to keep you coming back for more. The first thing that hit me about this game was the way they make that snowmobile go REALLY fast, when you pick up the super boost power-ups (The green arrows). The controller starts vibrating, things on the screen get blurry, WOW! This was the first game that really gave me the speed sensation. Arctic Thunder is definitely an extremely fun title, and if you like snowmobiles and loved the Mad Max/Road Warrior movies. Then this game will make an excellent addition to your Xbox collection. Trust me.

When you get your friends over with four controllers?this game ?walks the walk, and talks the talk??EVERYBODY has fun, and that?s important in a good game. It?s hard enough to make the game fun for one person, but for 4 that?s a little harder, this game delivers. Its controls are very nice, and easy to get used to. There is no funky button pressing here. You pick up power ups at extremely high speeds, that go faster, or shield you snow machine, or grab another player with a big hook, pure fun here boys and girls! The menu system is very easy to get around; this probably comes from Midway experience at the arcade. But, unfortunately the game has it?s minor flaws. One is, the levels are a little hard to unlock (thank god for cheat codes). Second, you can slam into a wall at 150 miles per hour, and the guy is still on his machine. The controls are very easy and responsive, which is very important for a high speed game like this.

Now for the visuals?this game is a straight port from another platform, graphically. It?s not Xbox native. I?ve never seen the arcade version, but these visuals are not up to Xbox standards. Nothing wrong with that, but they could have thrown in some of the Xbox?s special graphical features, like bump mapping for the snow. NHL Hitz 20-02 looked a lot nicer in my opinion. You won?t say, ?Wow, Arctic Thunder has super graphics?, nor will you say ?They are horrible?, but they are just not using the Xbox?s fullest potential. The Xbox CAN do more a lot more! I imagine Midway?s got great looking Xbox titles brewing up for us in the near future that will remedy this. Overall the graphics are average.

The sound has a very obvious, but great arcade sound to it, which I think make this title what it is, an arcade snowmobile combat title. There is unfortunately no Dolby Digital 5.1 surround on this title; it would certainly be a nice feature to add in future versions. Think about it, passing another rider, while going really fast on the green power-ups in surround. The snowmobile sound itself is ok, not perfect but simply ok. But, when you are like me, and hear snowmobiles all day zipping by your house, you know what these machines sound like, thus becoming more picky. Overall the sounds are a tad below average.

I can?t say this enough, online, online and online would make this game sweet! Midway hasn?t let us down in the past, I know they are gonna crank out killer Xbox titles in the near future.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 5.0 / 10


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