Game review: SSX
SSX is yet another EA game franchise popularized during the PS2 days that has made its way onto current-gen consoles. However, extreme sports aren’t quite as popular as they used to be in the early 2000s, so it's questionable whether the current crop of gamers will take to its snowboarding shenanigans as well as their predecessors did. Having said that, if you are a fan of the older SSX games, you’ll be happy to know that the latest version retains the over-the-top SSX feel that we all loved.
When SSX was first announced, the gritty and ominous title was a clear signal that its makers hoped to move the series into reality-based, simulation territory. An angry outcry from fans took care of that, though, and the final game stays true to its ballistic roots with gravity-defying stunts, tantalisingly exaggerated mountain slopes, and even that instantly recognisable snippet of Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky” when your trick meter fills up. Mountain slopes are full of jumps, grind rails, caves and crevasses, and pushing you to use them to the fullest is SSX’s trick system that makes use of a combination of face buttons, shoulder buttons and analog sticks. Performing tricks is way simpler than it sounds and you can chain tricks to rack up insane combos.Once you fill up your trick meter, you get a short burst of unlimited boost, which lets you jump higher and travel faster.
But all of that held true for the older games as well. What’s new here is that the game is spread out over nine real-world mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas, Alps, and Rockies. Each of these mountain ranges are modelled using actual GPS mapping data, but the developers have taken a lot of creative liberty to make the slopes fun to snowboard down. However, while tackling these slopes is a lot of fun, there is a fair amount of trial and error involved owing to the game’s slightly slippery board physics and the challenges posed by the various obstacles and multiple routes.
Each mountain range consists of multiple peaks that you will be required to race, trick and survive. Also, each peak has a unique hazard that you must deal with. These include avalanches, dark caves, low oxygen, dense tree cover and massive crevasses. Every hazard comes with corresponding equipment that you must use to survive. For example you’ll get headlamps to combat the darkness and oxygen cylinders to deal with extreme altitudes. Each mountain range ends with a Deadly Descent – SSX’s version of a boss battle, which pits you against that range’s hazard dialled to 11.
The game doesn’t feature traditional multiplayer, but once you’ve conquered the nine ranges in the World Tour mode, you can head over to Explore mode. Here you can set your best times, challenge your friends, and race against their ghosts.
Some frustrating trial and error gameplay aside, SSX is the triumphant return of gaming’s forgotten extreme sports genre.
What we liked: Same old SSX style, hazards, real-world peaks, Explore mode, fun gameplay
What we didn’t: No straight-up multiplayer, some trial and error
Price: Rs 2,799 (PS3), Rs 2,599 (Xbox 360)
Sameer is the cofounder of IndianVideoGamer.com