The discount price isn't enough to make SnoCross 2: Featuring Blair Morgan an attractive purchase for even the most price-conscious consumer.
- Cheaper than most other bad budget games.
- Looks like a PlayStation game
- Plays like a bad PlayStation game
- Sounds like a bad PlayStation game
- About as much fun as a bad PlayStation game.
SnoCross 2: Featuring Blair Morgan hasn't had the smoothest development cycle. It was originally shown at the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo and was slated to appear on both the Xbox and PlayStation 2, with online play to boot. Since then the Xbox version has been scrapped, as has the online functionality. What did finally get released is a budget-priced PlayStation 2 game that's not a whole lot of fun to play. Even if you can get past the atrocious presentation and frustrating gameplay, there's always a new problem waiting to make sure you can't enjoy what little there is good about the game.
Racing options are limited to career, quick race, and split-screen modes, which run surprisingly well considering how poorly the game runs during single-player races. You start your career by picking your rider's gender and then outfitting your racer with some clothes and gear. If nothing tickles your fancy, don't worry--you'll unlock plenty of gear as you progress through your career. Next you get to purchase a snowmobile. There are a handful of unlicensed craft to choose from, each with slightly different attributes. If you have any cash left over, you can upgrade your ride's suspension, engine, tread, and skis. Like with the clothing, more upgrades and items become available as you win races.
Once your rider is all squared away, it's time to go racing. The career mode is divided into multiple series, which in turn feature both racing and trick-based events. The racing is pretty simple. You negotiate the winding courses and try to avoid obstacles while performing tricks to fill your boost so that you can beat three other racers to the finish line. Occasionally this is fun, but the other 80 percent of the time it's not. The races are far too easy, and you can win by 30 seconds even if you've fallen a dozen times. Even if your snowmobile has been upgraded, it controls poorly. Usually the game is rather forgiving, but you'll still have issues turning and landing your craft. The funky controls combined with broken physics make it an adventure every time you catch some air or hit a bump that you think should be a jump but stops you cold in your tracks. SnoCross 2 has some fun moments, such as when you've got a big lead and don't have to worry about every little crash, but these moments are short-lived.
Though the racing is far from good, it's much better than the trick attack events, in which you're still going around a course, but rather than trying to finish first, your goal is to earn the most trick points. Tricks are performed by pressing the circle button in midair and then a direction on the D pad. Some of the tricks are interesting, but you've probably seen them countless times in other games. For some reason madly pressing the circle button doesn't always activate a trick--until it's too late and the trick is activated right as you're about to land. Even if you do pull off a few successful tricks, it's a crapshoot as to whether or not you'll actually land them because you never know when your snowmobile is going to end up on its side, face-first, or upside down. The trick mode wouldn't be so bad if it were as forgiving as the normal races, but the CPU is tough, and you'll have to really practice to win even the amateur events.
The tremendously boring course design doesn't do much to improve either event type. Random piles of boxes, piles of lumber, and tugboats block your path; jumps lead you right into walls or off cliffs; and it's always annoying to think you're taking a shortcut only to find that the underground tunnel is actually a solid wall. Wile E. Coyote would be proud. Thanks to poor level design and the fact that everything looks the same, it's really easy to get turned around the wrong way. You can push the select button to warp back on the course facing the right direction, but it's still sometimes difficult to figure out where to go next. You might think that you can do better with the included create-a-track feature, but save yourself some heartbreak; you won't be creating any masterpieces.
It probably goes without saying that none of the courses are particularly interesting to look at. They're mostly devoid of scenery, and they're all pretty dreary. Occasionally there's something brown to liven things up, but for the most part everything's white or gray. There's so much fog on some courses that it makes San Francisco look like the Bahamas. Effects are almost nonexistent, with the only exception being some ugly rain and snow. The riders look decent and their trick animation isn't too bad. The snowmobiles look OK, though they don't show any damage and the snow they kick up looks pitiful. Even with mostly empty courses and embarrassing Nintendo 64-quality textures the game doesn't manage to convey any sense of speed. At its best the frame rate is erratic, and that's when you're the only rider onscreen; as soon as another rider gets near, the frame rate falls apart, which makes the game nearly unplayable. Unsurprisingly, the game's audio is terrible. Bland rock music with (thankfully) no vocals plays in the background, and the snowmobiles roar with all the fury of an electric mixer...set on low.
Even at the low price of $14.99 SnoCross 2 isn't worth a purchase. Snowmobile racing fans will be disappointed by the lack of authentic riders and licenses, and everyone will be let down by the poor quality of the racing, the ugly graphics, and basically everything else.