In all my years playing racing and extreme sports games, I think I have probably only played one game featuring snow, which was Shaun Palmer’s Snowboarding. Now, I get to try out the new snowmobile racing game, Snow Moto Racing Freedom. While the game has some unique mechanics here and there, the physics and overall feel is a real let down.
Players take control of an up and coming snowmobile racer as they race in certain circuits and events. Now, while I sound like there’s a sort of story involved, there isn’t. I just started the game and chose from the menu what I wanted to do. I was able to customize the look of my rider slightly, but nothing too special. It’s basically menu navigation for the next races.
Platforms: PC, PS4
Price I’d pay: Maybe $10
As far as the actual racing goes, it feels really loose. Now, I have no idea how a snowmobile actually controls, but it felt like in order for me to make a turn in the best possible way, I would have to slam on the brakes while deeply turning, shifting my snowmobile harshly into a curve when any other normal driving machine would have either flipped, or drifted into a corner. Here, it’s like wherever the front of the snowmobile is facing, is where it is going to go no matter the momentum. Aside from gas and brakes, players can also do tricks using the right analog stick, and they gain a booster that can be used to “catch up” to the racers in front. I say that in quotations because I found that actually catching up to AI racers was nearly impossible.
There are three different styles of races players can compete in. The standard lap-based races, the sprint races that have players going from random checkpoints however they see fit, and trick score events. Each one also has tournament events based around them as well.
The lap-based races are simple enough. The lanes are marked off with red lines, and it’s not very difficult to get lost. The checkpoint races are the ones that can get a bit blurry. In checkpoint races, players can take whichever route they want, but will eventually have to cross through a checkpoint going a certain way. Here, I was easily running into hills I couldn’t climb, rocks at the bottom of a hill that I didn’t see until the last minute, and of course, the checkpoints themselves are usually positioned in a way that I would have to completely miss the checkpoint, turn around, and then go through it. The worst of them is the scoring for the tricks. It feels like an afterthought, and really ended up being clunky and not really much fun to do.
The biggest issue here is the physics themselves. It seemed liked they had a mind of their own when it came to what made me crash and what was perfectly normal. I could easily jump 20 feet in the air and land sideways and the game would think that is totally fine. But me going down a hill slightly fast and then coming to a straightaway, that garnered me a nice ejection from my seat in a pretty hard way that I don’t think my racer would have survived.
The presentation and overall sound design is just really bland as well. The menus all work, but they feel like something from a budget game from 2004. The sound design is really off-putting. The constant revving sound of the snowmobiles mixed with the scraping of the snow from every racer on the track wreak havoc on the nerves, and always seem to drown out the generic butt rock that was playing in the background.
There is local multiplayer as well as online multiplayer, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find a single race online to even try out the net code. So I can’t actually comment on the online play.
Now, while for the most part the game was inoffensive, it did feel rather boring and broken in some ways, but at the $29.99 price tag they’re asking for, I feel inclined to do more than just blow it off and ignore it. I now have to actively tell people to avoid this title. Even with the amount of races offered in single player, there is no way I would spend up to 30 dollars on this title. I would go as far as maybe ten bucks at the most.
With the unfortunate physics, the bland presentation, and some broken mechanics, I can’t really suggest this game at full price. As I said earlier, ten dollars is kind of the sweet spot for this one and even then, it can be a stretch. It teeters on bad, but in the end, ends up being just bland and a bit boring.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.