Clear future for a blurred game
SSX Blur is the fifth game to be born into EA's extreme snowboarding series. The series made its debut as a launch title on the Playstation 2. Since the beginning the SSX series has been about over-top-animation and extreme air as opposed to a more accurate representation of the sport. While the series begun on the PS2, all the later games were spread over a range of different platforms. SSX Blur, on the other hand, is a unique experience exclusive to the Nintendo Wii. The game makes use of the systems capabilities with the majority of the actions executed almost exclusively by motion controls.
Blur takes place on a huge, three peaked mountain. Career Mode, the meat and potatoes of Blur, allows you to pick an unlocked character and carve your way up the rankings. The game places you on the apex of Peak 1 with immediate access to five tracks. The peak is navigated in a freeride setting giving players the ability to carve down the mountain at their own leisure. Career Mode is somewhat sand-boxed with the different events and Challenges being situated at different locations around the mountain. The non-explorative of us have the option to instantly warp to events through the menu but the Challenges still require the gamer to physically locate them on the mountain. Blur also features split-screen multiplayer as well as Hotseat mode, in which each player takes turn playing solo and the person with the best time/score wins.
SSX Blur includes a cast of 12 playable characters. The characters all sport a cartoony design and ooze personality. Some of the characters make a return while a few more make a series debut. It's a shame that EA cut out some favorites from older titles. However, the current cast should prove more than sufficient for most gamers. The characters compete against you in events, tournaments and challenges. You must defeat them to gain points that move you up the Leaderboard.
This is the first game in the series to have a major deviation in the gameplay department. A radical change in control style was inevitable as EA announced the series debuting on the Wii. Blur makes full use of the both the Wiimote and nunchuck attachment to give players a totally different experience. While ultimately down to personnel preference I certainly feel that the new control styles have given the series a breath of fresh air. The freehand controls suit the game style much more than the control systems found in the previous series.
Carving (movement) is controlled by the nunchuck attachment while acceleration is controlled using the Y-axis on the analog stick. Tilting the nunchuck to the left will cause the character to turn to the left. The analog stick also has some bearing on movement and can be used in conjunction with tilting to get a sharp turn. Using the nunchuck to move can be quite awkward at first but it becomes natural after a few hours of playing. EA has given players some room to tweak the controls so if you'd rather carve exclusively with the nunchuck (or with the analog stick for that matter) you can do so easily via the menu.
The true powers of the controls are only truly realized once you're soaring through the air. The majority of tricks are executed through the Wiimote. Flipping is handled by tilting the remote vertically while spinning occurs when the Wiimote is tilted horizontally. Grabbing the board requires the player to hold down Z. However, gamers can tweak the grab by tilting the nunchuck either horizontally or vertically. Combining grabs, spins and flips in a combo is much more satisfying an experience than it is in the older titles. Tilting is more natural and simple to execute and adds very much to the game. Roaring down a mountain at breakneck speeds while pulling off trick after trick is a very involving, fast-paced experience. It is for this reason that the gameplay in Blur excels beyond any previous SSX title to date.
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