Arctic Thunder

a game by Midway
Platforms: XBox, Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 9.0/10 - 2 votes
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Overview

You’re the ultimate athlete, willing to go the distance to win. It doesn’t matter what the terrain is, you’ll conquer it. Now you find yourself on the snowy plains just a few minutes before the race and you're riding your enhanced snowmobile, armed with the latest weaponry money can buy. You’ve got to guarantee that you’ll win, after all. If need be, you’ll take out the opposition without a second thought. The thrill and the danger excite you and pull you ever closer to victory. The other competitors look tough but they don’t have your edge. It’s time to show the world what you’re made of.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

To start the game off, you’ve got to decide what race you want to participate in. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that you would want to pick the icon saying "Race" -- the other options are great, but in this one you can acquire gold medals that will allow you to unlock special hidden features. If you’re a real fanatic and collect all twelve of the gold medals you’ll be able to finally unlock the super character that has had all of his attributes maxed-out. If you’re the kind of person who likes to improve your character, then earning points is the way to go. To get as many points as possible you’ll have to make sure that you steer your snowmobile towards as many ramps as you can. By jumping off the ramps you enable your craft to perform stunts by pushing various buttons on your control pad. The characters each have their own types of stunts unique to only them, so don’t expect to be able to use the same combinations for the every character. If you want to gather more points then you should do your best to win the race while also performing outrageous stunts. For every medal, whether it be the gold or just the bronze, you will receive additional points for improving character attributes or whatever. After you’ve acquired as many points as you want to spend, just go to the upgrade icon. On this screen you’ll be able to upgrade any character available as well as his or her sled. If you want, you can also choose to unlock new characters, courses and battle arenas for your enjoyment. For the best variety of characters and tracks you should choose to just spend your hard earned points on unlocking all the hidden characters and courses. Besides, if you win all the gold medals, you’ll have the best character available which makes it pointless to waste your time on improving the other characters and their sleds.

If you want to win you’ll have to use the power-ups scattered throughout the courses. You’ll find that most of these power-ups are used to blow up the enemy. One of my favorites is the grappling hook, with which you can snag the enemy and rip him off of his snowmobile. There are also power-ups used to enhance your speed and to protect you from attacks from behind. You should learn to identify the power-ups so that you can use them to your advantage. One of the better features of Arctic Thunder is how simple it is to control your character. You use the left analog stick to control movement and help avoid obstacles as well as the other opponents. By pressing the X button you can adjust your speed, and if you need to brake quickly you simply press the R2 or L2 button. These are truly simple controls that make the movement of the game smooth and easy. If you want to attack your enemies, you use the R1 or L1 to hit them with your fists. If you want to let loose on the heavy artillery, you’ll first have to snag a power-up and then use the triangle button to target your enemies. If you choose, you can change your view by using the select button and if you feel that you need a heads up display, just press your circle button. So, as you can see everything you need is right in the palm of your hand. Don’t go now, I’m not finished. I had a lot of fun with how the game feels and the movement of the character. Usually in games, I have to worry about what is going to jump out at me around the corner or annoying camera angles that disorient me. Using your heads up display, you’ll never have to deal with those problems ever again. So many elements add to the intense feel of the game, like the power-ups and obstacles, helping to lend a dramatic air to the game. Without the constant feeling that I could loose the race at any moment, I found I would battle harder for dominance over the other opponents. It kept me interested and entertained hour after hour with no sign of ever becoming bored. It’ll blow your mind and keep you coming back for more punishment.

Multiplayer

If you can scrounge up another controller you can choose to challenge your friends to fight in the battle arena. You use the battle arena whenever you’ve decided to take a break from the race and shoot your opponent into a bloody mess. You set the rules to either a time limit or a certain number of kills to determine the victor. Once the battle begins, race around the arena of your choosing while snagging power-ups to destroy the competition. Whoever has the most kills by the end of the battle is the winner.

Graphics

It almost reminds me of Twisted Metal on ice. In Twisted Metal each character has some sort of odd diabolical past that makes him a complete freak job. Well, expect no less from Arctic Thunder. You can see just by looking at all of the characters that they were misfits of society right from birth. Hell a couple of them aren’t even human. On top of that the scenery of all the courses is something that’ll blow your mind. My best example is the course where you drive right through a nuclear power plant just as it begins to go through meltdown. Or you can even play at the White House as it has just been frozen over. Who wouldn’t love that? With all that and explosions to top it off Arctic Thunder can easily be designated as delicious eye candy.

Audio

You not only have great graphics and enjoyable gameplay but you can also really get into the terrific sound effects. You’ve got to love the bombarding sounds of explosions and the grunts of heavy-handed fury as you pound your enemies to pulp. Also for your personal enjoyment you can listen to appropriate feel-good music to help you dish out the punishment. It is an experience worth your time so sit for a spell and soak in all that Arctic Thunder has to offer.

Bottom Line

I had a lot of fun playing Arctic Thunder but I felt that it fell short of scoring in the nineties. It was a great idea to have some sort of point-based system so that it gave you something to strive for. Also, I felt that if it weren’t for the fact that collecting all twelve of the gold medals gave you that maxed-out character, I'm not sure I would have ever played the game in racing mode. The graphics and the sound effects also added to the overall enjoyment of the game. As I said earlier, though, the game really did remind me of Twisted Metal. For this reason I took a couple of points out of the score, sending it down to a still impressive 86. So, with that score, the game still is a great purchase for all ages to sit back and enjoy.

Download Arctic Thunder

XBox Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 2 Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Overview

You're the ultimate athlete, willing to go the distance to win. It doesn't matter what the terrain is, you'll conquer it. Now you find yourself on the snowy plains just a few minutes before the race and you're riding your enhanced snowmobile, armed with the latest weaponry money can buy. You've got to guarantee that you'll win, after all. If need be, you'll take out the opposition without a second thought. The thrill and the danger excite you and pull you ever closer to victory. The other competitors look tough but they don't have your edge. It's time to show the world what you're made of.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

To start the game off, you've got to decide what race you want to participate in. It shouldn't be a big surprise that you would want to pick the icon saying "Race" -- the other options are great, but in this one you can acquire gold medals that will allow you to unlock special hidden features. If you're a real fanatic and collect all twelve of the gold medals you'll be able to finally unlock the super character that has had all of his attributes maxed-out.

If you're the kind of person who likes to improve your character, then earning points is the way to go. To get as many points as possible you'll have to make sure that you steer your snowmobile towards as many ramps as you can. By jumping off the ramps you enable your craft to perform stunts by pushing various buttons on your control pad. The characters each have their own types of stunts unique to only them, so don't expect to be able to use the same combinations for the every character. If you want to gather more points then you should do your best to win the race while also performing outrageous stunts. For every medal, whether it be the gold or just the bronze, you will receive additional points for improving character attributes or whatever. After you've acquired as many points as you want to spend, just go to the upgrade icon. On this screen you'll be able to upgrade any character available as well as his or her sled. If you want, you can also choose to unlock new characters, courses and battle arenas for your enjoyment. For the best variety of characters and tracks you should choose to just spend your hard earned points on unlocking all the hidden characters and courses. Besides, if you win all the gold medals, you'll have the best character available which makes it pointless to waste your time on improving the other characters and their sleds.

If you want to win you'll have to use the power-ups scattered throughout the courses. You'll find that most of these power-ups are used to blow up the enemy. One of my favorites is the grappling hook, with which you can snag the enemy and rip him off of his snowmobile. There are also power-ups used to enhance your speed and to protect you from attacks from behind. You should learn to identify the power-ups so that you can use them to your advantage.

One of the better features of Arctic Thunder is how simple it is to control your character. You use the left analog stick to control movement and help avoid obstacles as well as the other opponents. By pressing the X button you can adjust your speed, and if you need to brake quickly you simply press the R2 or L2 button. These are truly simple controls that make the movement of the game smooth and easy. If you want to attack your enemies, you use the R1 or L1 to hit them with your fists. If you want to let loose on the heavy artillery, you'll first have to snag a power-up and then use the triangle button to target your enemies. If you choose, you can change your view by using the select button and if you feel that you need a heads up display, just press your circle button. So, as you can see everything you need is right in the palm of your hand.

Don't go now, I'm not finished. I had a lot of fun with how the game feels and the movement of the character. Usually in games, I have to worry about what is going to jump out at me around the corner or annoying camera angles that disorient me. Using your heads up display, you'll never have to deal with those problems ever again. So many elements add to the intense feel of the game, like the power-ups and obstacles, helping to lend a dramatic air to the game. Without the constant feeling that I could loose the race at any moment, I found I would battle harder for dominance over the other opponents. It kept me interested and entertained hour after hour with no sign of ever becoming bored. It'll blow your mind and keep you coming back for more punishment.

Multiplayer

If you can scrounge up another controller you can choose to challenge your friends to fight in the battle arena. You use the battle arena whenever you've decided to take a break from the race and shoot your opponent into a bloody mess. You set the rules to either a time limit or a certain number of kills to determine the victor. Once the battle begins, race around the arena of your choosing while snagging power-ups to destroy the competition. Whoever has the most kills by the end of the battle is the winner.

Graphics

It almost reminds me of Twisted Metal on ice. In Twisted Metal each character has some sort of odd diabolical past that makes him a complete freak job. Well, expect no less from Arctic Thunder. You can see just by looking at all of the characters that they were misfits of society right from birth. Hell a couple of them aren't even human. On top of that the scenery of all the courses is something that'll blow your mind. My best example is the course where you drive right through a nuclear power plant just as it begins to go through meltdown. Or you can even play at the White House as it has just been frozen over. Who wouldn't love that? With all that and explosions to top it off Arctic Thunder can easily be designated as delicious eye candy.

Audio

You not only have great graphics and enjoyable gameplay but you can also really get into the terrific sound effects. You've got to love the bombarding sounds of explosions and the grunts of heavy-handed fury as you pound your enemies to pulp. Also for your personal enjoyment you can listen to appropriate feel-good music to help you dish out the punishment. It is an experience worth your time so sit for a spell and soak in all that Arctic Thunder has to offer.

Bottom Line

I had a lot of fun playing Arctic Thunder but I felt that it fell short of scoring in the nineties. It was a great idea to have some sort of point-based system so that it gave you something to strive for. Also, I felt that if it weren't for the fact that collecting all twelve of the gold medals gave you that maxed-out character, I'm not sure I would have ever played the game in racing mode. The graphics and the sound effects also added to the overall enjoyment of the game. As I said earlier, though, the game really did remind me of Twisted Metal. For this reason I took a couple of points out of the score, sending it down to a still impressive 86. So, with that score, the game still is a great purchase for all ages to sit back and enjoy.

Overview

In the not so distant future... cities around the globe are under siege from a strange band of terrorists. These criminals rampage through city after city, unstoppable, racing one another to the edge of creation and back, riding, of all things, snowmobiles.

That's right. Snowmobiles.

Don't worry, there's a good game in here somewhere, you just need to dig for it. Just in case you're wondering, that little blurb up there was the entirety of Arctic Thunder's plot. There's not much else, as the rest of the game is an incredibly fast, uncontrollable race. Some of you arcade fans might remember Hydro Thunder, the arcade title that Midway launched a while ago, which pioneered the bizarre sport/destruction aspects of this title. Where Hydro Thunder was an arcade title with only nine boats, a few secrets, and only one machine gun, Arctic Thunder is out for the Xbox and has many, many, many different riders, lots of secret material that you can unlock in the point mode, and a host of radical firepower.

The game focuses on racing and gives it to you in three distinct styles. You've got the normal race mode, point mode, and arcade style. Arcade style gives you an arcade perfect translation of the game that plays just like the quarter eating machine you've come to know and love. Not too different is the race mode, which isn't very complex and pretty much lets you race any of the unlocked tracks and racers that you've got, competing to set a new high score. The point mode is one of the better features of the game, as it lets you race to gain points that you can us to improve your rider. In addition to that, you've got a Battle Arena, for two player versus action, and the Upgrade Shop, which lets you improve your racer and purchase new tracks and riders.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

First off, know that this is one of the most ridiculously simple games I've played in a long time. Put it in, start the race, and all you need to do is keep your finger on the accelerator. That said, this should be very easy for a brand new player to pick up, and veterans of Midway's other arcade titles won't have to deal with the tricky and unpredictable nature of the vehicles. The race starts off with a boost, to put you ahead of the other racers, but that won't be enough to save you. Aside from upgrading your character in points mode (which lets you race that same upgraded character in the normal race mode) you'll also need to learn the layout of the many tracks. There are eight of them to begin with and they're all hideously strange, full of shortcuts and obstacles, which can win or lose you the race. You'll see tracks like Alaskan Pipeline, the Haunted Forest, and a closed Ski Park.

The characters are likewise strange and unusual. First, you've got Agent 5, a secret agent beyond compare. Dirty McCurdy is a heavy biker, ready to brawl. Mai Zhou Lin is a deadly female acrobat and Ponzo is nothing more than a big ape. Each character has strengths and weaknesses, both in the power of their use of power-ups, as well as the speed and agility of their vehicles. These traits can be increased in the Upgrade Shop, using the points that you earn in the point mode. All in all, there are at least ten of them, perhaps more given that I haven't been able to unlock all of them myself.

Arctic Thunder uses a series of in-game power-ups to make the gameplay more entertaining. Invisibility makes you invisible, the snow bomb lets you lay down a path of mines, and the super attack is an incredibly powerful area attack that destroys everything around you. The atomic snowball is one of my favorites, as your character leans off the bike to toss it at enemies in your path. Given that it autotracks, it's one of the more useful items in the game. With eleven of the freakin' things, you're sure to have plenty of special items at your disposal during the game. One of the special items lets you perform a trick as you're coming off a jump, but they're chosen automatically and don't tend to have a specific trigger, other than the speed you're traveling, regardless of the fact that the book says that you can activate different tricks by holding down certain buttons.

While the gameplay is satisfying for a short period of time, it can be kind of frustrating given how quickly the game moves. It starts out at a quick pace, keeps that pace, and for short periods of time, goes even faster with the boost items. All told, you'll probably want to practice in the training mode to get used to the tracks and learn their shortcuts.

Multiplayer

Fortunately, since a title this vapid has to have something to keep you entertained, you can play alongside your friends on any of the gameplay modes using split screen but, sadly, not system link. This doesn't have much of an effect on the overall game as you can't unlock special items or gain more points by racing together -- there's no cooperative mode or extra secrets. It does let you race against your friends though and, in the case of the Battle Arena, you can participate in a deathmatch-like experience.

Graphics

Arctic Thunder gives you a lot to look at for visuals, with large tracks, high jumps, and a quick, driving pace. Although I wouldn't call Arctic Thunder stunning to look at, it is very flashy, thanks to what I consider a rather insane level design that always tries to present the most eye catching, clashing colors you can find in a game like this. The snowmobiles and drivers are well modeled and have good, semi-realistic movement for performing stunts and attacking other players. Each of the special items has an interesting appearance, save for the Rooster, which just generally turns everything white if you manage to get caught in it. The levels are designed well enough to appear interesting, although they obviously lack the complexity you'd see in an arcade title like Hydro Thunder. As an unfortunate side note, I saw quite a few clipping errors as I played, and more than one point at which the performance of the game stuttered as the Xbox tried to keep up with the game's demands.

Audio

There isn't much in the way of a soundtrack on Arctic Thunder and the game obviously hasn't been designed for its sound effects. They're good accompaniment and, thankfully, given the rather absurd and quick pace the game travels at, they don't manage to clutter your already distracted attention.

Bottom Line

Without any substance, story, or coherent sense of movement, Arctic Thunder does a remarkably good job of entertaining, packing every minute with a strange sense of mayhem and absurdity. It goes a bit too fast for its own good, but still manages to be entertaining, for at least three minutes or so. I'd counsel caution in purchasing this title, as, in my estimation, it is a fun little rental at best.

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