Hands-onArctic Thunder

We hit the slopes with Midway's home conversion of its arcade racer.

One of the last titles from Midway's arcade division, Arctic Thunder, featured high-speed racing on snowmobiles with some hand-to-hand combat thrown in for good measure. The home conversion of the game for the PlayStation 2 has been significantly beefed up from its arcade counterpart, which is definitely a good thing. You'll now find 19 characters and sleds to choose from, as well as 12 available tracks. As far as gameplay goes, Arctic Thunder will feature race, points, battle, and training modes, in addition to the arcade mode. Race will challenge you to win medals, which will help unlock game secrets. Points will require you to score as many points as possible during a race. The points can be used in the game's upgrade mode, which will let you buy new sleds, tracks, and characters. In addition, it's possible to use points to upgrade the stats of an existing character. Battle mode places two players in a small arena littered with power-ups and lets you duke it out. The training mode will let you explore the various tracks at your leisure and determine the best ways through without the hassle of serious competition.

The game looked fairly faithful to the arcade version's look, faithfully re-creating the large tracks and all the various shortcuts and power-up effects. While the game played fairly smoothly in single-player mode, there were some frame-rate hitches, but they didn't hurt the game too badly. On the other hand, the two-player game looked like it could still use some work. While the game was fun, the frame rate suffered in split-screen mode and would bog down in the heat of high-speed combat, especially if any explosion-type power-ups were being used. Hopefully, the game can be smoothed out before its September release.

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