Pulsaris and Anotherdae carve out fresh tracks in today's review of SSX, which released on February 28, 2012. Pulsaris is grinding on the Xbox 360 while Anotherdae rides the rails on the PS3. Did EA Sports trick out another winner? Read the play by play below and make sure you go all the way to the bottom to see how you can win a copy of SSX for the Xbox 360.
SSX (2012) for the PS3 and Xbox is EA Sports next generation offering of a series that's been around since 2000. Let's start with the basics: SSX stands for Snowboarding Supercross. For those noobs out there that have no idea what kind of game SSX is, picture a snowboarding game like N64's 1080°. Now picture that snowboarding game on performance-enhancing drugs with boarders flinging boards over their heads while soaring over impossibly, HUGE jumps and ending on a pipe rail. It is absolutely over the top in every way, shape and form, and it is fantastic!
Right off the bat you are presented with a choice of control schemes. The default setting is using the twin analog sticks to control your boarder, this is new to the SSX franchise. The second setting is using the button controls for your tricking.
I felt that the gameplay is very simple yet very effective. Left stick controls movement and right stick or buttons (depending on your preference) control tricks with the board, it's that simple. The sticks may seem easier but old school fans of the series will likely switch to the button set up. While the gameplay is quite simple, there are variations, such as different grabs and tweaks, but they are very easy to learn. It does take time to master tricking, which is the true essence of SSX.
I much prefer the button set up to the twin stick set up. Though I'm willing to give the sticks another shot the buttons just feel right.
I completely agree. I tried using the stick and it felt a little clunky compared to the buttons. I found the buttons a LOT easier and much more enjoyable. For gamers that prefer using sticks, that may be the way to go, but I feel the majority of SSX players will probably prefer the buttons.
Tricking may look completely random at first but you actually have a lot of control. Set up a big spin by leaning on the left analog stick before hitting a jump. The buttons correspond to which arm you want to grab with, the left button (square on the PS controller) your left arm, right (circle) your right arm. The top button (triangle) is a nose grab the lower button (X) is a tail grab. Once you memorize this basic set up you can start combining button presses for more complicated moves.
The tricks look super impressive and can just be a matter of a simple rotation and button press. The key to scoring big are the combos. Linking tricks together with little break builds up the combo meter which is a very important part of mastering SSX.
"Mastering" being defined as getting the highest scores or best run times. Both of which are harder and harder to achieve as you progress through the "World Tour" tracks. The World Tour is the story line of the game which will introduce you through all the different mountain ranges available.
Which leads us to the basic game modes: Tricks, Races, and Survival. In Trick mode, you use all the elements around you to create the best score possible.
Trick mode is like a free ride where you solely concentrate on tricking and building your combo. You will have to get your score up into the millions quickly if you want to score a medal status.
In Race mode tricks are still vital due to creating boost to speed your boarder down the mountain.
It can be hard to concentrate on keeping time while tricking. Don't write off Race mode as a simple "get to the bottom first" run. You will have to maintain some style and cope with treacherous terrain.
In survival, the object is simple.... just make it to the bottom. This mode only applies to each region's Deadly Descents of which there are nine total. Each region and descent has a particular theme, from the trees in the Rockies, avalanches in Alaska, altitude in Himalayas, and darkness in Africa to name a few.
Survival runs can be tough. Be prepared to fall off the face of the world a few times. The best runs are rewarded with medal status. Bronze being the easiest to score followed by silver and the ever-out-of-reach golds.
The game starts off with a very good tutorial where your boarder is free falling through the air until you choose for it to end. During this free fall, the game teaches you the moves. What did you think of it?
This free-fall area is great for familiarising yourself with the basic controls, or trying out a new version of controls like the analog sticks. Having some company this weekend I found it a great way to bring my guests up to speed quickly so they could play too. I had a little bug when I first fired up the game the EA Online Pass froze my game. I believe this to be a “day one” connection problem; I haven’t had a problem since. I actually never even put it in the code and got online.
I never had any problems with the game freezing so far. I have had a few minor glitches, such as taking my boarder off course and getting stuck in between some rocks and trees. A few times I’d get out of control and the camera would switch up on me and I’d be a bit disoriented and that would be enough for me to lose a race.
I also have seen a few areas where my boarder can get stuck, but very few. Overall the courses see very large and give a great open world, free-ride feeling. The first mountain range is really easy. A basic training of sorts, after all, it has been 11 years since anyone played Tricky.
The Rockies were extremely easy. As easy as the Rockies are, some regions are VERY difficult. I almost got a false sense of security after the first region thinking this game was going to be easy. Newsflash... it isn’t. Thankfully, the addition of “Rewind”ing can make up for some very poor decisions, but it is quite limited and have had to start over many many times.
Rewinding can be a good way to fix a missed turn or bad landing. My only complaint there is I find I push it on accident. Rewinding is limited to a handful of uses on each run. Using can cost you valuable time during a race. Thankfully “restarting” doesn’t take all that long. While not instant, you can hit restart, catch your bearings and be back at the start in about a minute.
The View from the Top
Not the best looking fake snow I’ve seen but certainly the most fun I’ve had in fake snow. Particularly like the look of the “tracks” in the snow.
Yeah, the graphics aren’t really this game’s strong suit. The scenery is quite impressive at times though, when I was able to look around.
Not to say the game looks bad at all, but Pulsaris is right because it doesn’t have to look incredible when you are moving so fast. And SSX racing can get very fast. There is something just beautiful about hitting a jump just right and tricking in front of the perfect lens-flare background. The game’s characters are introduced through panning comic panels. I find this to be a somewhat cheap excuse to not render cut scenes. That said, the various illustrators do a pretty good job. You shouldn’t pick up SSX for the story.
The courses are also done extremely well. There are so many ways to make it down each slope. Every time I’ve been down a slope I’ve found my way taking a different route, yet I still feel like there’s so much that I have yet to explore.
Armor is a great concept used in this context without armor protection taking damage will eventually end your run. Forces you to acknowledge some of the damage you are taking hitting trees and falling. Taking damage will lower your armor rating it needs to be replenished after it is used up.
Each region, specifically the Deadly Descents use special abilities. Some of them change the game drastically. Specifically the wingsuit, oxygen tank, solar panels, and headlamp to name a few. I found the oxygen tank very difficult, but appreciated the challenge. I appreciate the amount of customization on the characters. Each character has tons of clothing options (some glow and others actually can help stats) as well as an insane amount of boards and accessories.
The wingsuit is particularly fun but don’t expect to have a ton of time to play with it. The suit itself has a quick deterioration bar which will empty out and you lose the wind all in a matter of seconds. The wingsuit adds an extra level of survival and requires quick reflexes to deploy in time. It can be used to combine tricks.
Taking the Team Online
Online play in SSX is more like a Need for Speed game than actual head to head racing. In fact there is no head to head racing. Record your fastest time on a track and your online friends will be able to see that time and a "Ghost" of your run. EA calls this going head to head "on your schedule".
Another unique feature is the Geotags. Rewarded to you during the World Tour events, these tags can be left along online races as markers for other racers to find. There are points for leaving a marker in a hard to reach area for an extended period of time. This seems a little overly confused but is similar to how in Demon Souls you can leave notes for other online players.
Favorite level by far would be the avalanche Deadly Descent in Alaska. Totally different camera angle adds a new twist to the game and seeing the snow chasing after my boarder was a rush.
SSX can be incredibly cruel and frustrating but the feeling of satisfaction you get from earning medals on a difficult run or creating combos for an incredible score is worth the effort. A good, smooth run is well worth the practice and time commitment. The music of SSX is a great array of inspiring, energetic music. I'm sure there will be some "dance music" haters, but it seems perfectly balanced to me.
Worth the Price of a Lift Ticket?
I really enjoy playing this game. I finished the single player campaign, yet I feel like I've just cracked the surface. It has moments of simplicity combined with very challenging sections that will definitely test your skills. The storyline is ridiculous, the graphics won't blow your mind, the music is forgettable, but in the end it doesn't matter. This game is pure fun.
I couldn't agree more. Get ready for some sore thumbs. Everyone will love playing this game. Whether you are die hard for leaderboard status or casually carving the slopes you're going to have a good time with SSX.
2old2play Game Rating
About the Authors
Jay "Anotherdae" Bowen lives in New York City and is a full time Art Director. Gaming is a passion mostly enjoyed at night for hours on end after spending time with his new wife, Megan, and three-year-old chocolate brown cocker spaniel, Sylar. He started writing game reviews in 2010 to keep a record of his gaming experience. Jay's preferred console is the PS3 but his love for gaming started with his first Atari. With 2o2p, he's looking forward to the company of fellow adult gamers and bringing reviews to a like-minded community. Check out more from Jay at Gamedae.blogspot.com.
Jason "Pulsaris" Thomsen joined 2old2play in 2006. He is 33 years old and lives with his wife in Radford, Virginia. Jason is a 2003 graduate of James Madison University with a Bachelors of Science degree. His first gaming console was the Intellivision and has been gaming since. Gaming favorites include first-person shooters, role playing games, and sports games. He loves playing for both competition and for fun, as well as for the social interaction with his friends. Other activities include playing trumpet and skiing.
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