SSX Review: A Reboot Worth Your Time
SSX Has Never Felt and Looked So Good
It’s been a long time since gamers have received a proper SSX title. Way back in 2003, EA released the last memorable SSX title, SSX3. Now it’s 2012 and EA looked to bring back the classic franchise from its snowy vacation.
When we first saw SSX, it was known as SSX: Deadly Descents. EA said that gamers would have to tackle some of the most dangerous real world locations scattered around the world. The Deadly Descents name has been dropped, but the idea is still here. Returning snowboarder Griffin Simmons has decided to ditch the SSX team, and take on the Deadly Descents himself. To combat Griffin, Elise Riggs decides to gather some old and new faces to not only beat Griffin, but conquer the most dangerous snowboarding drops on the planet.
In total there are 9 Deadly Descents that players will have to conquer, but each individual mountain has its own unique “problem” you must overcome. For instance, one mountain has extremely large gaps in-between them, but Elise has a wing suit that she can deploy to make her way across. A different mountain is always in white out condition, but Mac has special goggles that can show certain paths through the snow.
Playing SSX is by far one of the best experiences I have had with a game in a long time.
The Deadly Descents in SSX is a really cool idea, but unfortunately half of them are flat out not fun to play. One of the mountains is in extremely high altitudes, and requires the player to hit a shoulder button to get more oxygen. Unless you lay on the button, you will never run out of oxygen. It renders the “feature” completely useless. Then you have the wing suit, which enhances the SSX experience for the better. Jumping off a mountain to only see death below you, deploying the wing suit , then finishing with an over the top trick is nothing short of amazing.
Playing SSX is by far one of the best experiences I have had with a game in a long time. SSX has never felt and looked so good.Controlling your rider is very easy, and performing tricks with either of the control styles feels great. The overall speed has been cranked up quite a bit from it’s predecessors, and even veterans of the franchise will have to readjust to the change. The faster speed helps the game tremendously due to its over the top style, and hitting that perfect run on a mountain is very satisfying.
The tracks are very wide, and offers players many different ways to traverse down the mountain. Chaining together tricks now requires players to have precise timing, but also requires players to carve more than ever. Getting through a track with a fast speed will test your reflexes. After coming down from a big jump, you have to analyze very quickly which path you want to take. The strategy changes depending on if you are going for a high score, or if you are trying to get the quickest time possible.
Performing tricks with your SSX rider is still very easy, but very fun as well. The franchise has always been known for its over the top style, and SSX is no exception. With the new dual analog controls the experience is very streamlined. In time you will find yourself performing gravity defying tricks with ease. Signature tricks once again make their return, and as always steal the show. Doing a Walk the Dog with Mac while flying down a mountain brings players back to reason why they fell in love with SSX back on the PS2.
The presentation in SSX is stunning in every way. The game looks fantastic and runs buttery smooth, but this HD SSX also has a very distinct art style that matches the SSX style. The soundtrack was always a high point in the series, and once again it does not disappoint. From pop rock to hip hop, the in game soundtrack will get stuck in your head for days.
SSX provides an adrenalin rush that not many other games can match.
SSX provides an adrenalin rush that not many other games can match. I find myself gripping my controller tighter as I try to boost my way through tracks. Shaving off a few seconds on a run requires precise control, and SSX gives that to the players.
One odd choice of design for SSX is the character development. In previous titles, players were always able to pick a rider, and build them up to be the fastest rider on the mountain. In SSX that is not the case. Instead each character has their own attributes, and certain characters are better at some things then another. This cause a problem if you loved building up a set of boards and costumes for a certain rider. In fact, there are some riders that I never use since they specialize in an area, like an enhanced visor, that I have yet to use outside of the Deadly Decent.
After you complete all 9 Deadly Descents, you will dive into the Explore Mode. This mode is where the real meat of the game will be played. SSX has always been about getting the highest scores possible, or racing to the bottom of a mountain as fast as you can. There are hundreds of different tracks to conquer, and the mix between trick, survival, and racing is very nicely done.
Rider Net is the online system that powers SSX. It’s very similar to Need for Speed’s Auto Log that was introduced in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Rider Net is constantly comparing your scores and times to everybody on your friends list. If one of your friends beats your time, Rider Net makes sure that you know it. I have spent hours and hours trying to make sure I have the number 1 spot on my friends list, and any time I am beaten, I make sure to regain the top spot.
Sadly, SSX does not offer any kind of direct versus play. There is absolutely no way to race your friends head to head, not even on the same console. This is inexcusable. I understand that Rider Net records everything that I do, but being able to actually race my friends was something I honestly thought was a part of the game. When I found no such option, I was floored in disbelief. That would be like if Need for Speed offered no competitive racing in any form.
If you are a fan of the SSX franchise, then you should not hesitate to pick this reboot up. While it does have some weird design choices all of the high flying, insane tricks and massive tracks will keep you busy fighting your way to the top of your friends list. The heart of SSX is here and it’s beating strong.