*Note: This is the old type of review with criteria
SSX Snowboarding started back in 2000 solely on the Playstation 2. Stats show that is has sold around 3 million units in it’s lifetime. After SSX came SSX Tricky which was also a huge success only a year later but it was released on PS2, Gamecube, GB Advance, and Xbox. With the success of SSX Tricky came SSX 3 in 2003. After only another 2 years the SSX On Tour was released and then in 2007 SSX Blur was released as a Wii exclusive. Fast forward to today and we now have a next-gen SSX released February 28, 2012 on the PS3 and 360. The idea of this game is to “Defy Reality. Own the planet”. Does this game live up to the hype? Read on for the full review after the jump.
While the story may be nothing special, the gameplay truly is. Keeping in mind that this was practically a resurrection of the series, veteran gamers knew what they wanted out of the new SSX. In this case, they got what they wanted. A simple and easy to use interface along with huge mountains to snowboard down all the while jumping and flipping in every which way possible. The “Tricky” mode that was made so famous via SSX Tricky is back and better then ever. The death defying stunts and tricks you can pull off are very rewarding when you land them properly. In fact, in order to land properly simply stop hitting any of the buttons and the rider automatically will land assuming they have enough time to get back to center. You still have the ability to continue holding the button and time the landing yourself and doing so will get you that extra few points that could be worthwhile. In the end, the gameplay is fun, fast, and you can even run into other players on purpose to knock them down. The only thing missing from gameplay is the ability to play split screen or online with a friend instead of just racing their ghost.
The original SSX started out on the PS2 and while back then we thought graphics were pretty amazing, well EA did a great job and not only improved on the graphics but the physics as well. You can feel every sharp turn and landing you make which helps pull you into the game. The snow physics and graphics are top notch, even after seeing Uncharted 3 but let’s be fair here. SSX is pretty much all snow so they better do it right. Even still, you can zoom in on the characters to see the attention to detail. They show everything down to the exact paint job your board has, to what equipment your character has equipped like solar panels, oxygen tanks, or ice picks. Overall the graphics are quite impressive considering how large the size of the mountains are. The only gripe I have is that even if you mess up right in the beginning and restart, it has to reload the whole level which depending on the level could take between 15-25 seconds. That’s not a long time but when you are bad (have to start somewhere) and restart a lot it becomes a pain. That is not enough of a drawback to claim that the graphics, as highly detailed as they are, is a bad thing to say the least.
SSX tries to create a story in which you are “Team SSX” and one of your teammates leaves thinking they will do better on their own. That teammate’s name is “Griff”. The game has you playing as different characters who are known for different abilities/attributes. You have to play through the World Tour mode in order to unlock these characters. Your goal is to beat out Griff’s time and trick score on each drop respectively. In world tour mode you have 9 deadly descents. Think of them as almost a “boss fight”. You are forced to play through the smaller non-deadly descents to unlock the necessary equipment in order to take on the deadly decent. Again, as far as story goes, you are simply trying to beat out Griff’s score to showcase that team SSX is better. To help try and push the story along there are cutscenes but these are done in a comic strip like format. In the end you simply get the satisfaction of saying that team SSX is better. Not a whole lot of motivation to go through all 9 deadly descents considering the further along you get the learning curve becomes pretty large. At least they attempted at making some sort of story to help things progress. Thankfully story isn’t the main factor of the game, instead that is the sheer fun factor of the gameplay.
If there is one thing SSX is known for, it’s the soundtrack. SSX tricky had the iconic “Tricky” song that makes a comeback in this new SSX. Some other songs are also from older ones in a throwback sense. Plus all the different characters have very unique personalities and looks to go along with it. The newest feature with the sound is that it goes right along with you while you trick/race. An example is if you are on a long grind then the music likes to get stuck like a broken record until you break the grind. It’s just another feature to keep things fresh and entertaining throughout the whole downhill climb.
To be completely honest, I am a bit disappointed in the multiplayer aspect in a few ways. For starters, the online pass thing is becoming the norm for games and I am not a fan. Mainly because a lot of games like to focus on MP nowadays and therefor that’s their best feature. However if you just rent games (like I tend to do) from Gamefly then you can’t actually play online if there is an online pass required. SSX does do one thing right in that since there is no “true online” gameplay where you can compete with other players on a mountain at the same time, your stats are all recorded on your end even without a pass.
“In SSX, players without an Online Pass are able to compete and play in both of SSX’s online game modes, Explore and Global Events with no restrictions,” reads the official statement.
“In Global Events, the top finishers from each event are awarded with in-game credits. These in-game credits earned during play will not be awarded to the player if they do not have an Online Pass; these credits will be stored so that at any time, if a player redeems an Online Pass code, all the credits that they had previously earned in Global Events will be immediately awarded to them.”
In other words, you can race your friends ghosts and see if you beat them or not but without the pass you don’t get those earned credits. Also, the lack of split screen is unfortunate considering the original SSX games had it. Without true online gameplay and lack of split screen, the multiplayer aspect of this game is severely lacking.