by Matt Porter
reviewed on PS3
On the SSX loading screens there are tips and hints to help you out or give you an interesting bit of information. The very first one I was greeted with read: ‘Some items glow. It looks awesome. Seriously, check it out.’ This really set the tone for the next few hours of extreme speed, crazy tricks and death defying jumps that were on offer in EA’s latest instalment in the SSX series, the first one for five years.
The revival of the series sees Griff, an original SSX founder, splitting off from the group and taking on the challenge of conquering the world’s nine ‘Deadly Descents’. So it’s up to you, playing as various remaining members of the SSX team, to beat him to it by racing and tricking your way through the dozens of ‘drops’ in the game. The game features nine different mountain ranges, each one with a final challenge with a unique dangerous aspect attached to it, which act as a sort of boss battle. For example, The Rockies are covered in trees which must be avoided in order to survive to the bottom, while in Antarctica, temperatures can drop 40 degrees from sunlight to shade, so careful lines have to be carved to reach the bottom without freezing over. Other mechanics include the use of a wingsuit, which is needed to cross huge crevasses, and an oxygen tank which is the only thing which can keep you breathing while boarding in the soaring peaks of the Himalayas.
Generally, each mountain range has you take part in a mixture of race events against a few other riders, where the first person to the bottom of the drop wins, and trick events, where you have to gain the most points by performing combinations of tricks. Tricks are also important in race events however; the more tricks you do, the more boost you can use, which helps in making it to the bottom in first place. Performing enough tricks means you enter ‘Tricky’ mode, where you have infinite boost and can pull off even crazier stunts. If you do well enough in Tricky mode, you enter Super Tricky mode, where your tricks become even more insane and you can also perform each character’s unique signature move. Also your hands glow, which is always a bonus.
Tricks can be controlled either by flicking or holding the right thumbstick, or by using the face buttons. For the most part, I stuck to the buttons as I felt I could control what was going on a bit easier, but the option is there for fans of the analogue movement of the sticks. Regardless, your rider handles really well, even at the huge speeds you can reach, and it doesn’t take any real skill to look ridiculous at pretty much all times, when more often than not, your rider is barely even touching their board! SSX now has a rewind feature which can be used at any point and lasts as long as you want it to. The drawback of this is that in race events the other competitors can continue while you are going backwards through time, so it makes it close to useless unless you are in a really nasty situation. In trick events though, the rewind is crucial as it can save you losing a huge bundle of points if you bail in the middle of a big combo.
Looks and sounds fantastic. Action is constant and remains fun throughout. Addictive multiplayer with plenty of people participating.
Some challenges are frustratingly harder than others. Tricks can get repetitive.