Don't let the throngs of mind-numbingly average snowboarding titles released before SSX taint your thoughts. EA Canada has created a wholly unique experience that can only be described as a beautiful, psychedelic carnival on snow.
It's hard to describe the sense of vast space and depth in this game. Huge panoramic camera sweeps reveal majestic mountains and picturesque snow-covered forests and hills in the background. Rolling terrain peppered with slopes and monster cliffs abound. In stark contrast, as the camera approaches the foreground, scenes of "freaky holiday" surround the staging areas and perimeters of each boardercross event. Vibrant lighting effects, robust colors and the excitement of the crowd get the extreme sport mojo flowing.
Needless to say, SSX has enough eye-candy to satisfy any graphic snob. More importantly it has excellent gameplay. We love it when those two elements come together.
Character animation is topnotch (very fluid and realistic) and controlling any of the eight post-gen-x, prototypical riders is smooth and intuitive. Tricks are pulled off in a variety of ways but mostly by simple combos using just about every button on the controller. Catching massive air is more the norm than the exception. Successfully completing tricks boosts your adrenaline meter, thus making it easier to perform the hardest crowd-pleasing maneuvers. Heightening the experience, the Dual Shock 2 reacts to even the subtlest bumps and jostles.
Each of the 10 courses features much more than simple jumps and grinding material. Moving ramps, rotating doors and tons of non-traditional elements litter the trails. At certain points fireworks will explode around you. Wipeout-inspired arrows line the base of the banked corners increasing the sensation of speed. Exploring new routes on these massively long tracks is encouraged: within them you'll find secret goodies as well as special trick areas and time-saving shortcuts.
If you haven't figured from our gross display of enthusiasm, SSX is already looking good. It's definitely not just another snowboarding game, and could even make it into the ranks of must-buy PS2 launch games. But we'll wait 'til the review next month to say for certain.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
SSXis a pure adrenaline rush. It bombards the senses with incredible speed, fantastic graphics and excellent sound. Rather than go the licensed music route, EA actually had a real artist (Mix Master Mike) come up with original songs to fit the game. The result is astounding, and the combination of the tunes and voices (each announcer and rider speaks in their native language and/or accent) is unparalleled. You'll even hear the WCW's Mean Gene announcing a race! All eight boarders have unique trick repertories containing 50 different maneuvers (including my favorite, the Canadian Bacon Air) which you unlock as you build up their stats by competing in different races. There are several boards to unlock for each character as well, and using different types results in a different trick set for your rider. This all adds up to a surprising amount of depth for a game that could have been just another snowboarding title. While the control takes a little getting used to (most people automatically want to play it like Tony Hawk), it's easy to appreciate the subtleties after only a couple of races. I can't say enough good things about SSX, but there is one downside: slowdown. It's very infrequent and doesn't really bother me in the heat of competition, but it's there. I guess the new-system blues hit the guys and gals at EA...bummer. Oh, and the Canadian girl is totally hot. I'm all for that in any video game. Buy this.
Snowboarding games haven't held my interest since Steep Slope Sliders on the Saturn (I was never a big Cool Boarders fan), but SSX succeeded in bringing me back for more, even when I was doing poorly (some advice: Don't start the game playing with Mac). Courses are long and varied enough that it doesn't feel like you're whizzing past the same scenery over and over. The sense of speed is intense (helped along by the excellent soundtrack), and aside from an occasional drop in framerate, the game runs "sweeter than candy," as Elise would say. This is one PSa game that plays as good as It looks-A rarity in what I've played of the launch lineup.
SSX is about the most creative snowboarding game I've played. The flashy environments, shortcuts and insanely long tracks keep the adrenaline flowing. But most importantly, it really looks and feels like you're snowboarding. Like how the snow trails behind your board change shape depending on your angle. Sure it may seem like no big deal, but the game is packed with small touches like that. I also like the freedom of the tracks--each has multiple routes, including many rewarding (and challenging) shortcuts. So essentially it's golden, except for one thing. All the graphical bells and whistles drag the speed slightly. Even so, SSX is a must-buy launch game.