Arctic Thunder first hit the console scene on the Playstation 2 a few months back, it tried to blend high speed racing with some weapon based action and power-ups. So I can safely say that the Xbox version certain outdoes the Playstation 2 version in graphical terms again, but what about the gameplay? Read on:
Are you ready for the ultimate battle on snow? You'll get proximity missiles, atomic snowballs, and snow bombs to use against your opponents as you battle your way to the finish line. If that doesn't do the trick, you've always got your fists for those up close and personal encounters.
Choose one of 19 different characters and sleds — each one giving you different capabilities — and prepare to wage battle on one of the 12 outlandish tracks — from the Swiss Alps to Atlantis. Master your snowmobile and perform any of the 62 different tricks, or lure your friends into one of the special battle arenas for a duel.
Installation, Settings and Loading Speeds
Installation is yet again just a simple case of putting the Xbox DVD-Rom into the Xbox DVD drive, the game loads in just a few seconds and you are basically ready to go straight away with no fuss at all. If you do feel like fiddling about though, you can change the controller configuration, vibration modes, and the sound options.
Level load times are pretty fast, none of the levels seem to take any longer than 10 seconds to load, which is pretty good going. The game begins with a short intro video which isn't of the best quality.
Gameplay & Controls
If there is one thing for certain, Arctic Thunder doesn't try to be realistic, instead what you get are players who can perform ridiculous stunts, compete on weird courses, pick up power-ups and use weapons against your fellow racers. As per usual with these types of games you start out with a small selection of riders who you can take control of. You can race in various modes as shown below:
As I mentioned above, there are a lot of items you can unlock so the points mode is likely to be the one part of the game that you will end up playing the most as it has something a single player can aim for. The game offers a lot of variety in its racing modes, and there are twelve different tracks, nineteen different riders and snowmobiles and then five battle arenas, the good thing is that most of them are locked up away from you at the beginning, this urges you on to try and unlock them by getting better in the single player games.
The course that you take part on range from haunted forests to underground lava pools, each area is filled to the brim, with power-ups, jumps, short cuts and moving obstacles for you to try to avoid. The ground crumbles beneath you, monsters come out of lava, and then you have to try to avoid all of that while being punched in the face by some of your opponents. The amount of obstacles you have to dodge and the rather crazy courses you take part in will be one of the main pulls in terms of gameplay for a lot of people.
The kind of power-ups you can pick up range from the basic, grappling hook which lets you pull back an opponents to mines and some massive explosives. These are all spread out across the courses and you are sure to pick up a hefty amount along the way. Be careful how you use them though as a slight mistake can push you right back down the pegging line in the race for first place. The controls are pretty easy to get to grips with, they are responsive and quick and there is no button overload like there are in some games these days.
So we've had to good, now what about the bad parts of the game. Well for a start, the game can fly along so fast and have so much going on at one time, that it can be hard to actually figure out what the heck is going on and where you are on the track.
I mentioned that Battle mode is a multiplayer game, well it isn't the only multiplayer game in Arctic Thunder, all of the players can compete in any of the races if they want to. There isn't any doubt that the multiplayer side of Arctic Thunder is a lot of fun and there are enough different course to keep players amused. The battle mode (the one designed for multiplayer) is probably the most fun you can have with Arctic Thunder so well done to Midway for the multiplayer parts in the game.
Graphics & Sound
Arctic Thunder is a mixed bag - there is a great feel of speed in the game, the frame rate never drops and is always high, but there are a few of the tracks, characters and textures that look as if they could have been done much better than they have been. The game is certainly colorful, with good use of the primary colors all over the place. So while the game won't be a benchmark title for the Xbox like Halo, its not all that bad.
Sound - hmmmmm well I can't say I wasn't all that impressed, there are the usual simple sound effects for the snowmobiles, a few player voices, but nothing stood out as being above average unfortunately. Something that should have been improved on.
I have to say I quite enjoyed Arctic Thunder, not as much as I hoped I would but I didn't end up hating it. The game has its moments, and some of the environments are very well done. But the main probably is that there is sometimes too much going on at one time, thus it makes it a little confusing as to what is going on. But in saying that, there are enough power-ups, secret levels and hidden characters as you could wish for in a game like this, and I am sure people will find it fun for quite a while.