Published by: EA
Genre: Action Sports
Platform: Pc, Xbox 360, PS3
Play it if: You love a fast paced action game
Skip it if: You weren’t a fan of the originals
I’m staring out the helicopter’s door, the wind is whistling and the snow blisters my face. The pilot gives me the heads up and I push off, free-falling in whirlwind. before I can even collect myself, my board hits the ground,as other racers begin to whizz past me and it’s on again.
This is the world of SSX, and it’s a fun world to be in. By passionately retooling a much loved franchise, EA Canada has been able to tow the line between arcade and sim, between deep and accessible and between fanboy fodder and new experience. It may have been originally announced as SSX: Deadly Descents, but it will come to be known as the SSX experience.
In the new game, Team SSX is uniting to try to take down the nine deadly descents,or the nine largest mountain ranges in the world. Then your ex-team member and all around douche bag Griff tells the world that he’ll be the first one to do it and thus your job — of course, is to beat him to it.It’s a simple plot device (SSX never really needed a major story anyways), but it serves it’s purpose of getting you to the mountains, and that’s where SSX begins to shine.
In a word, your first few runs will be exhilarating. You’re hurtling down these gigantic courses and there’s so many obstacles and things to trick off of that you’re unlikely to even remember that more often than not you’re in a race. You’ll often wipeout, but half the fun is turning these failures into amazing tricks, like landing on your head after a huge jump, somersaulting down a bit of the slope and then somehow turning it into a sick grind on a downed tree-trunk. The best part? The game moves so fast that it’s tough to memorize each of the different paths on each course, so you’ll have a ton of fun replaying different sections of the game.
The trick system is undoubtedly at the heart of the new SSX, and it’s surprisingly deep. On consoles, you have the choice to use the traditional button layout controls of previous SSX games or the cool thumbstick controls reminiscent of EA’s own NHL series which finds you flicking each thumbstick in certain directions to pull of specific tricks. Your best bet is using a combination of the two as it’s the easiest way to string together long combos and get the most points. Get enough air on a jump and SSX even allows you to trick off the helicopter you jumped out of — and no, it never gets old.
If there was one complaint about the game’s trick system, it would be just how light your character feels at all times. The game does a decent job at straddling the line between sim and arcade, but when you’re mid-run, your character almost feels wieghtless and bouncy sometimes, causing you to mis-judge some of your distances and biff more than your fair share or jumps. Admittedly though, this is a problem that pops it’s head up mostly in the beginning of the game, and once you get the hang of each level’s pacing, you rarely run into it.
As you play through SSX, you’ll unlock new equipment, from the badass wingsuit that allows you to glide down big jumps ala batman to the less cool items like headlamps and different colored suits. The best items will help you in one of the franchise’s newest and coolest modes — the Survive it maps. Here, you’ll have a number of new obstacles, like the amount of breathable air around you and truly epic events like avalanches to block your path.
Though SSX features no real dedicated traditional multiplayer component, the game does feature Ridernet, a mode that will be familiar to anyone who has used the Autolog features of the latest Need for Speed games that lets you keep track of everything your friends are doing in the game at any given time. It’s also the center for events held by EA, which are open to the entire world — or you can set it up to be just you and your pals, so you’ll get the traditional experience anyways.
The Blast Factor: SSX being so well done is a testament the old school design choices, to not having to put out a game every year to keep an audience satisfy. Deceptively deep, yet incredibly accessible, this isn’t just a welcome back for the franchise — it’s a complete reboot of it. Grab your board and go, the slopes are waiting.