It's not always easy to be an SSX fan. After releasing four back-to-back games on the PlayStation 2, Electronic Arts opted to put the successful franchise on hiatus for close to seven years. Along the way we've been subjected to a disappointing Wii game, tons of delays and an E3 trailer that made the reboot look like a Call of Duty game. After so much drama and speculation, it's a relief to say that this long-overdue SSX sequel does the franchise proud.
SSX doesn't pretend to reinvent the wheel; this is still a fast-paced snowboarding game in which players race and trick their way to gold medals. The annoying announcer suggests that it's a combination of snowboarding and motocross, which probably sounded more elegant on paper. I say SSX is more like Burnout meets Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. It's a lot like speeding 150 miles per hours down a treacherous mountain full of rocks and leaps of faith. Actually, it's exactly like that.
This new SSX is brought to you by the team behind the Skate series. Despite not being very good at them, I'm generally a fan of the series. You can see the Skate influence in the default control scheme, which has players using the right analog stick to pull off jumps, tricks and more. Thankfully players can opt for the decidedly easier button configuration. This ends up feeling a lot more like classic SSX games, though it's not a carbon copy of On Tour or other PlayStation 2 era releases.
The trick system isn't overly complicated, which is perfect when you're barreling down a hill at breakneck speeds. There are three different move types, each of which can be modified by holding the right trigger. As you spin, grab and grind tricks out, you'll earn multipliers and a boost meter that will let you create bigger and better signature moves. You can also use the boost meter to increase your speed, something that is invaluable during races. There's a nice give-and-take that forces players to do tricks to keep their speeds high.
The game's impressive 153 drops include some of the most recognizable mountains in the world. Get ready to trick off of Mount Everest, Kilimanjaro and dozens of other popular peaks from around the world. SSX uses a satellite mapping technology that allows the developers to create incredibly realistic paths that reflect the look of the real place. Thankfully they have added crazy jumps, tons of grind opportunities and everything else that makes this kind of video game fun.
What has always set SSX apart from the crowd is its use of non-linear level designs. Although you are always headed in the same direction (down), there are countless ways of getting there. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a diverging path, while other times you'll find a hidden passageway in a cave or take a jump over the competition. There is an impressive amount of depth to each one of these drops, offering enough incentive to replay them over and over again.
There's no reason to be worried about SSX. After a seven year hiatus, Electronic Arts has decided to retool their best extreme sports franchise. The result is a fast-paced action experience that offers an impressive collection of real life mountains to conquer. The only thing missing is a real multiplayer mode.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!