SSX Review - March 5th 2012

12 years ago, Zoe, Elise, Mac, Moby, Jurgen, Hiro, JP and Kaori completely changed the world of snowboarding forever. Now they're back, and they've got a whole new bag of tricks to unleash upon the world. The Colorado Rockies, the Swiss Alps, and the Himalayas; these are just a few of the locations that players will brave as they crisscross the globe in search of the tallest, most dangerous peaks known to man.


SSX features 9 mountain ranges, which have been dubbed the "deadliest descents," each one faithfully recreated through geographical data taken from NASA. Players must follow former SSX team member Griff Simmons across the globe as they battle to be king of the hill. There are a total of 28 different individual mountains included in the game, and players are given the option to begin their descent from multiple drop points on each mountain, so boredom will never be a factor. With a fantastic physics engine which suits the gameplay perfectly, paired with a high frame rate and stunning graphics, every jump will take your breath away.

Players may choose to descend each peak in three different ways, "Race-It," "Trick-It," or "Survive-It." In "Race-It," players are pitted against 3 other AI riders in a classic race to the finish. Each mountain has multiple different paths that create an entirely open area for players to play around in. With an endless selection of paths, players must choose their routes carefully to be the first one to the finish. In "Trick-It," players must jump, flip, grab, and grind their way to first place. With the return of the tricky meter, players much choose each jump carefully to maximize their combo. To give each mountain range its own deadly personality, the SSX development team included signature elements to each location. For example, while boarding through the Colorado Rockies, players will have to navigate through fallen trees, and abandoned train cars that have been partially buried from a massive wreck.

Each environment features multiple routes to the finish line.

In "Survive-It," players must do just that, survive. Once all drop points in a specific mountain range have been cleared, players must brave one last peak, which takes one of the many of the very real dangers that snowboarders must endure and kicks it into high gear. Whether it's fallen trees, thin air, or just plain old gravity, players must choose their gear very carefully if they want to make it down the mountain in once piece. Although the gameplay is extremely solid, the career mode has one major drawback; the difficulty level between each event can be extremely inconsistent. Players may breeze through one event with ease, but fail repeatedly in the next, making the game extremely frustrating at times.

Each character in SSX has their own set of equipment, from boards and outfits, to oxygen masks and solar powered generators to keep your character from freezing in sub zero climates. This is a very welcome addition to the franchise, because over the top gameplay is what SSX is all about. Returning to the franchise are the signature tricks that are unique to each character that, quite frankly, are absolutely bonkers. At this point, veteran players, and even newcomers to the series, will know they've unlocked something special. "Getting tricky" gives players unlimited boost and allows them to pull off even more insane combos and tricks that will leave them screaming for more.

Multiplayer is a blast.

Although there is no original musical score in the game, EA developers have done a fantastic job of selecting a soundtrack of licensed music that describes just what the game is all about. And with the return of DJ Atomika and the addition of wise cracking helicopter pilots that help guide players through the treacherous terrain, there is no shortage of humor within the game.

The online side of things is where the game really becomes unique. Imagine boarding down a mountain with hundreds of other players hot on your heels. The global events mode allows players to compete against each other in the same game modes as in the career mode. But the way the gameplay is executed is in a class all its own. Players can jump into an event at any time and begin battling for first place, and matches can hold thousands of players, all battling for first place at once. Of course, player collision is disabled to reduce the massive pile-ups that would occur. Players who wish to take a scenic tour down each mountain can select the explore mode, which lets players just grab a board and go ride.


RJ Barranti

 

Gameplay:

Controlling each character is very simple and intuitive, although inconsistent difficulty in career mode may discourage some players.

Audio:

The developers at EA chose the perfect soundtrack to fit the look and feel of the game.

Graphics:

Each mountain is beautifully rendered and has its own personality. Each and every jump will cause your heart to skip a beat.

Longevity:

Although the career mode can be completed within a day, playing multiplayer with hundreds and thousands of others will never get old.

     

Final Score:



Faithful SSX fans will cherish this latest addition to the franchise, and newcomers will love the simple controls and gameplay mechanics. You will have a hard time putting this one down.

 

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