Arcade snowboarding games were on the up and up in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s but one game stood out from the rest as the undisputed king, SSX. The critically acclaimed extreme sports title landed on the PlayStation 2 in the early noughties and instantly became a favourite for snowboarding fans as well as gamers with no interest in the sport.
EA brought fast and furious snow carving fun to home consoles that will always be remembered. Jumping off a cliff into an abyss below whilst doing a Superman then transitioning into a Footloose; left gamers in sheer amazement which in turn, lead to more games under the ‘EA Sports BIG brand’. Since then sequel after sequel were attached to the SSX name and fan fever dropped. 2012 sees EA rebooting the series to give it some fresh legs and a new body, but does this Terminator deserve to rise up?
The new SSX goes all goes all over the globe this time around, visiting countries and landmarks such as Siberia, the Himalayas and the Antarctic. Much like previous titles, there’s no story attached to the game, instead you’re given the globe to trek around. You navigate to specific parts on the globe and take part in the differencing game types. Beginners to the game will get to grips with the usual Race type modes and Tricky events before the game throws the Deadly Descents mode which tests your skills amongst others. As usual to any SSX game is an assortment of characters to choose from and equip with collectible gear, these range from boards to clothing attire.
In the graphics department, EA have really made strides with the game. Mountain tops look dynamic and death-defying; while the landscape is really a sight for sore eyes, before taking the plunge into the snow. Snow spray splashes off the carves of your board as you slice your way down the slopes with pipes, dilapidated buildings, crevices and blind sink holes littering your downward experience. Undoubtedly, one of the most gratifying yet minor visual moments comes when you enter tricky mode. The screen has a golden yellowish tint to it as you rack up points but as you end the combo chain and your character hits the snow a sort of earthquake effect hits the screen as a ripple emits from your character.
Gameplay with SSX is as you’d expect, you’re given a downward course and you make it to the end. Depending on what game mode you’re playing is whether you’re itching to be first past the post or last but not least with a cool 10 million points racked up. Before the game lets you loose on the unsuspecting snow you’re guided through a tutorial that lets you get to grips with the controls.
When you do get around to some proper gameplay you begin your downward descent by being prompted to launch your character from a helicopter. You control your character using the left stick to guide him left and right while the right stick is your tricks arsenal (the game offers a choice between using right stick and face buttons for tricks). As you aim your character toward a slope and launch him skyward tricks are easy to pull off and get a good combo going. A push down on the right stick followed by a quick hold of the face buttons will net you a good score. Before you know it you’re leaping off giant ramps onto a conveniently place pipe before exploding onto a steep drop only to get some Big Air again. The gameplay experience in fast paced and action heavy to say the least.
Along with the rebooted FIFA Street, SSX is shaping up to be a solid game and is already proving to be popular among fans and new gamers to the series who have managed to get a early look.
SSX is due to launch on March 2 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. You can pre-order your copy here (PS3) and here (360).