March 15, 2002
SHOX - Preview
Release Date Publisher Developer Rating Players Price
18/5/2003EA BIGEA UK1-2$99.95

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Visually it looks like Sega Rally.
The roller coaster ride on the EA BIG label continues. To date there have been some solid games, especially the SSX games, as well as some disappointments such as the recent Freekstyle. But SHOX looks like returning the brand to it's great beginning with a racing game set to blow away the competition. Developed at Electronic Arts in the UK SHOX is a rally style game, looking very similar to Sega's superb Sega Rally 2, but also includes many more outlandish tracks, and gameplay elements. It certainly looks like putting much of the excitement back into racing games.

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Texturing is solid enough.
At least the official press statements from Electronic Arts are exciting enough. Imaging climbing behind the wheel of a high-voltage BMW, cutting through fierce winds, sand and dust, and fending off five other wild drivers on an amped-up race track in the desert. No, it's not some pitch for a new car commercial, it's Shox, the next over-the-top game from EA Sports BIG. That's right speed junkies, there's gonna be a whole new way to go off-roading this fall. Racing rookies, seasoned speed demons, and gamers just looking for some great fun can hit the off-road circuits of the jungle, desert and snow in BIG fashion to compete in arcade-style rally car racing.

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One of the gorgeous levels.
SHOX includes 24 licensed vehicles from car manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lancia, and Ford - all the big rally manufacturers. Races take place with 6 cars racing to the finish line over three laps on a 8 different tracks in each of the different terrain including snow, desert and jungle landscapes. Within each track are "Shox Zones" where players are awarded Bronze, Silver, and Gold placements based on their driving skills. Earning Gold in all three Shox Zones on a single track unlocks a new night circuit. Players can also put up their own cars as collateral in head-to-head Gambling Mode to collect the ultimate off-road vehicle collection. Additionally, up to 4 players can compete for top rankings in a multiplayer split-screen mode.

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A lovely render.
Looking at the surrounding screenshots you could be forgiven for thinking that you're looking at Sega Rally. Indeed the development team have taken much inspiration from the classic arcade racing game. Another of the neat additions is that when you see the car soar over a jump the camera pans in Matrix style, in much the same way as the other BIG titles. The cars also take physical damage during the races, which is not only visual, but also affects the handling of the vehicles for the remainder of the race.

At this late stage in development SHOX looks like a great title. The game runs very fast while the graphics rival those in Sega's Sega Rally arcade cabinets. Throw in some of that BIG magic and you start to realise just how much potential this title has. While the game was originally scheduled for release in October 2002 only weeks prior to release it was dropped off the schedules for no reason. Since that time Electronic Arts have been constantly pushing the title back - still without reason. The game is now expected in mid May - a date that has been firm since early 2003.