Score: 8.4 / 10
Sports has given rally racing the Big treatment and the result, Shox,
looks and plays a lot like one would suppose.
Iím tempted to say that it is Rallisport Challenge crossed with
SSX: Tricky, but that description would leave out about a half-dozen
game whose influence Shox wears right on its sleeve.
Normally Iím a sucker for originality, but Shox shines by
mixing some of the best elements of famous arcade-style racers into one
fast, attractive package.
it not being a rally game, the older title that kept coming to my mind
while playing Shox was Speed Devils for the Dreamcast.
These flashbacks were triggered mostly by Shoxís exciting Shox
Zones feature. These zones
are areas of the race track where the player's time between two points
is measured. Completing the
section at a certain speed earns the player a Gold rating, slightly
slower Silver, and so on. This
feels nearly identical to the speed zones on Speed Devils that had the
player trying to bust police radar at a certain speed when leaving a
zone. It was fun in Speed
Devils and it is fun here. As
an added bonus in Shox, players earn a Shoxwave for rating Gold in
successive zones. This
causes a cool shockwave to rave around the course.
As long as the player can stay in the area of the shockwave, he
or she earns bonus prize money. More
importantly, it looks incredibly cool.
Also like in Speed Devils, players can make wagers in an attempt to win cars. Unfortunately, unlike Speed Devils, there arenít any cool AI personalities to wager with. It is simply man vs. machine. More and more cars are made available to wager for as players finish first in different sets of races. These races range from easy to near impossible and their presence accounts for a good deal of the gameís replay value.
is a marvel to look at. It
is perhaps the best looking racing game on the system.
Sure, GT3 has more realistic backgrounds and more polygon rich
car models, but Shox makes up for those with cool, real-time damage, the
stunning Shoxwave, great lighting and particle effects, and amazing
track variety. All that and
the frame rate never seems to let up, no matter what is going on on the
Shox features a pretty generic set of game modes from the first boot up: Single Player Mode
and Multi-player Mode.
The single player mode consists entirely of racing for
championships (though, as said before, head-to-head races to win cars
also happen in this mode). The
multi-player mode allows up to four players to go at it either in a
straight forward race or in Mayhem mode.
Mayhem mode is basically like the modes in FPSís where players
try to hold on to an object for the longest amount of time (here it is
first player to possess the flag for a total of one minute.
of what mode players choose, they will find the gameís controls
noticeably looser than even your normal rally racer.
Power sliding is the name of the game here, and mastering the
power slide is a must before players can hope to win any but the easiest
races on the most boring courses. The
only complaint I had about the controls actually has more to do with the
track design. Some of the
levels feature an acre of real estate on the side of the roads, making
power sliding through the looping curves a true headache.
If a player misses the curve and slides into one of the large
gravel or sand areas, most hope of winning the race is lost.
The car simply goes too far off the track to get it back on in
time to win the race. This
was fine in GT3, where the controls were so precise that going off the
course wildly was a rarity. With
Shoxís ultra-loose controls, it happens far too often.
Still, this complaint aside, Shox is arcade-style racing at its best. It contains lots of colorful and detailed levels with a variety of track designs. It also features solid, challenging A.I. with rubberbanding that seems realistic instead of artificial. Most importantly, Shox offers an exhilarating sense of speed which, in the end, is what draws many of us to racing games in the first place. Go get this one now.
- Tolen Dante
(January 27, 2003)
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