Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Snow Moto Racing Freedom


In the world of extreme sports snowmobile racing may be one of the ones I’m the least familiar with. While there’s, no doubt, a thrill to hitting the snow at high speeds and carving out a good path it’s an experience that I’d consider less dynamic than being on the water or even just skiiing or snowboarding. For the most part I’d say that comes through in Snow Moto Racing Freedom. While it provides some level of thrills in letting you race on the slopes or on snow-covered courses it generally fails to convey a sense of fun and is saddled with technical problems on the Switch.


The game is all about racing and, in general, you’ll be taking to more open courses and somewhat defining your own path or you’ll be racing on a set track complete with turns and jumps. In general I found the open courses in Sprint mode to be more fun and exciting since it offers the freedom noted in the title. Of course deviating from the path can also result in disaster as cutting through some trees or trying to go over a hill can result in disaster, but at least it keeps things interesting. By contrast races on the closed tracks are very focused on technique and keeping control of yourself. In particular in the early race this is a challenge while you’re in the pack though since bumps can really do a number on you and once you lose your groove on the track it can be very difficult to catch up again.

The environment for the open courses range from generally flat with some hills to racing down some relatively steep slopes and opportunities to catch some air add to the thrills. You’re able to perform stunts while in the air and these will give you a mild extra bump for you limited boost meter but in general aside from having one or two go-to moves for bigger jumps the risk really worth the limited reward. One thing you’ll definitely need to adjust to is the way your snowmobile steers. It can obviously be worked out with a little practice but in particular on the closed courses with their tight turns and confined space it can get tricky to stay in full control at times.


What unfortunately gets in the way of the experience on the Switch is the issues the game has with a struggling framerate, especially while in docked mode. While it generally doesn’t end up looking very good when it is at its worst I also think some of my early struggles with control were tied to this. I say this because in handheld mode the framerate issues are far less frequent and pronounced and in general while playing in handheld mode I found the controls to be more responsive. Even in handheld mode more crowded sections of track or faster-paced rides down big mountainsides tended to get a bit on the chuggy side though. When you stack that on the very straight-forward but uninspiring presentation to everything and it makes for a pretty tough sell.

Even without the very prevalent and apparent framerate issues Snow Moto Racing Freedom has on the Switch I think it struggles to be compelling. If you’re really into smowmobiles it’s possible your interest could be higher but treating it merely as an option for a racing game on the platform its novelty doesn’t compensate for the elements it is missing. Then open spaces are generally nice but don’t demand repeated play and the closed courses are technically challenging but not generally very fun either. As a whole these problems make it difficult to recommend.


Score: 4

Pros:
  • The only snowmobile racing game on the platform
  • Some minor rider and snowmobile customization
  • A mix of open and closed courses provide some variety in challenge

Cons:
  • The framerate issues in docked mode are prevalent and while less pronounced in handheld mode they remain relatively common
  • Control can be finicky and this is compounded by often wonky physics and perhaps exasperated further by the framerate struggles
  • Nothing terribly memorable about the racing as a whole compared to other options on the platform


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