E3 2001 Hands-onSled Storm 2

EA Sports Big is reviving the Sled Storm franchise for the PlayStation 2, and we had the chance to sit down and play the game.

The developers behind SSX are branching out in a major way. First, they took up the developmental duties for NBA Street, and now they're knee-deep in the development of Sled Storm 2 for the PlayStation 2. After spending some time with the game, it appears as if Sled Storm 2 features a combination of the franchise's older gameplay mechanics and the trick-influenced thrills of SSX.

At its heart, Sled Storm 2 is a racing game. Each race takes place against three computer-controlled opponents on tracks that include a seemingly endless number of shortcuts. The shortcuts will lead you through houses, over death-defying gaps, and through several feet of powder. The trick system used for the game is pulled from EA Sports Big's other snow-blown racer, SSX. Pressing different combinations of the Dual Shock 2's four shoulder buttons performs tricks. You may perform superman airs, can-cans, tabletops, and many more. As you bust tricks, a turbo meter gradually grows, giving you extra speed on command.

The skis handle fairly well. Acceleration is accomplished with the X button, and steering is performed with the left analog stick. For particularly tight turns, the shoulder buttons may be used to powerslide around them. The skis realistically behave in a sluggish manner while barreling through drifts and deep powder and have better handling characteristics on the packed trails. Performing tricks is more a matter of timing than anything else. It's most important to make sure that the trick animation will be completed before your ski returns to earth.

Sled Storm 2 moves rather quickly, but its graphics thus far fall well below the standards that EA Sports Big set with SSX and NBA Street. Things are a bit grainy overall, and there are texture seams that show their ugly faces on a regular basis. The particle effects used to demonstrate the snow being kicked up are markedly inferior to those from SSX, and overall, it looks to be running on an entirely different game engine. There are just a few crash animations included thus far, and they seem to be triggered without any regard for the trajectory of the rider. Sled Storm 2 is still very early in development, so most of the problems should be corrected before it's released.

Very few details were released regarding Sled Storm 2, but you can rest assured that when we receive more facts, we'll report them.

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