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Dear Mr. Kollar,

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  • While my own review of EA Canada's SSX borderlines of fan-boy clamoring, I truly do feel that your review for the game shortchanges it to quite an extent.  As I was reading along, I very quickly gained the impression that it was composed and turned in during the first several hours of play, likely just beyond completing World Tour Mode, and dabbling just a bit in Global Events and Explore.

    One thing that stands at the forefront of your beef with the game is it's difficulty.  A third to even one half of the review is completely negative, and almost all of it revolves around the hazardous design of the levels and survival mechanics.  It felt as though you have missed the point in the games design almost entirely, and became too frustrated.  I am not saying this because I am better than that - just the opposite.  But, I do wish for you to reconsider your relatively low score on the grounds that your very complaints about the game are precisely why it excels beyond most other games of this generation.

    SSX began to fail because of the cracks in SSX3's design, which created a faulty foundation for the series to evolve from.  It is so easy to swoon playing SSX3 because of the amazing style and design choices along with the library of content.  Yet, the endless glitz and glam of the game overshadow the myriad of flaws that later stalled the franchise.

    The tricking system was ultra exploitable.  A player could find ways to backtrack up mountains or just linger in one spot scoring more points.  The same could be said of instant teleportation, which auto corrected the rider back on the track whenever they flew off course or hit select.  This along with a general "trick-centric" focus made racing underwhelming...really just plain boring.  All of these problems really come together when one looks back and stares at the truly glaring issue of SSX3: level design.

    SSX3 was such a stylized and atmospheric powerhouse that its occasionally brilliant set pieces steered players away from just how watered down and derivative almost all of the courses in the game were.  Momentary chunks of courses were memorable, but courses as a whole were the simple structure of "big jump, fork, grind, big jump" with almost no consequence or course knowledge required.  It was sublime at the time because of just how fun it was to carve and trick endlessly down a mountain, but ultimately destroyed the series quality in the next installment.  SSX On Tour made course design even more forgiving to the point of "big jump, big jump, big jump", and ultimately helped ruined the franchises steam.

    This is all because of a heavy trick focus, as well as breaking the series into the mainstream.  It was an unforeseeable regression that began back in SSX Tricky when EA Big decided to make the game a little more forgiving and shift the focus away from racing and almost completely towards tricking.  No better example of this exists than Tokyo Megaplex: a once nightmarish experience that was reduced to a passable and simple grind fest.

    The point is that SSX3 was the crux of both the series successes as well as its failures, and I see that the designers somehow realized this while drafting out 2012's SSX.  As a result, they peeled the entire series back to its roots.  SSX 2012 is not really a sequel to SSX3 at all, but rather a direct sequel to the original SSX or perhaps Tricky.  The developers did the exact opposite of what everyone was expecting:  they designed almost the entire game around racing.  The result is a nightmarishly challenging experience that leaves half its players completely enthralled, and the other half cursing at their televisions.

    One thing I agree with in your review is how frustrating and ultimately frivolous the "Survive it" mode winds up being.  All of the events are annoying  diversions that wear themselves thin long before I have made it half way to a gold medal.  However, I completely disagree with you about the mechanics as a whole. Their presence in nearly two-thirds of the games 159 drops is exactly what makes the game excel.  The survival courses themselves, when done in "Race it" or "Trick it" mode, become masterful and require insane amounts of skill.  This is in stark contrast to the shoddy level design of previous entries, whose courses ultimately wear thin once you get tired of easily tricking all over the place.  Instead, players are left desperately clutching their controller as they sometimes struggle to even break the 200,000 point mark.  Much like Polyphony's Gran Tourismo, a player is required to know every inch of the course they are flying down, and struggle to score an extra thousand points, or shave tenths of seconds off their racing times. 

    Nearly every aspect of SSX's design punishes the player for attempting to blast through levels or engage in "auto-pilot" style play.   The new rewind system replaces the exploitable teleports and auto-corrects, and the scoring system forces the player to FLY down the mountain, whether they want to or not.  SSX is unapologetic in its design, and refuses to adhere to the classic statement which destroys all franchises:  "our demographic research shows  <insert excuse to water down>".

    Reading your review, I often found myself questioning how you felt about games like Gran Tourismo, Dark Souls, or the original Castlevania.  All of these games  are famous (and a little infamous)  for the exact gameplay aspects you are complaining about while you talk about SSX.  Something tells me that your opinions on those games is decidedly positive and borderline on reverent.

    My four favorite game series have been Metal Gear, Marvel vs Capcom, Soul Calibur, and SSX for as long as I can remember.  In the past several years, I have had to watch the recent installments of the three former franchises soar into the realm of mediocrity for the sake of bigger profit margins, mainstream appeal, accessible difficulty, corporate interference, and release dates.  SSX is the only one of these franchises that cared enough about its fans to do the exact opposite, and create something truly imaginative, challenging, and deep. 

    You, the voice of an A-list publication, are inadvertently slamming the game for not licking the boots of millionaires.  I hope that my words find you and respectfully request that you reconsider your review - not professionally, just personally.  SSX's producers and developer chose the people over the corporation in a time where franchise after franchise is selling out in spades.  It deserves a better and more thoughtful appraisal.

  • YAH!

    ....what he said.

  • This post makes me facepalm. You're really stretching far here. Maybe if you defended your position like GI did in their review it'd be a little more reasonable, but you just come off as someone who happens to love a game that many found disappointing (including myself) and can only explain how he loves the game by saying it over and over again in several paragraphs...

  • Two negative and redudant responses in just one day?

    I think I made a friend :)

    Ya know, id like to first refer you to my SSX review, where you replied with a much more longwinded bashing of my opinions than the short summation applied here.  I think my reply pretty much sums up how you are just being a negative nancy.

    Regardless, I trust that Mr. Kollar (assuming he even reads this) knows that I come with the utmost respect to him as a journalist.  Still, my issues with his review are quite valid. Hazardous level design is regarded as a strength, and not a weakness, in regards to platformers and racing games.  Guess what two categories of game both define ssx?

    Hehe.

    As far as me defending my position.  What more do I need to do?  I discuss the regression of the series' level design which began back at tricky but, was further exacerbated in ssx3, and ultimately damaged the franchise by ssx on tour.  I lead that all into the modern ssx via craftful segways and eventually conclude that the complex design elements of the game help destroy all the previous exploits and frailties that once hindered the series from becoming powerhouse in competetive gaming.  This game is the quintessential definition of a both quality sequels and series evolution.

    I am pretty proud of this letter, tbh.  Meanwhile, your response is both perfunctory and short sighted.  I do not need to constantly state the obvious by giving examples that almost anyone who plays an ssx game can immediately visualize in their head while reading. I also do not feel the need to write a thesis paper on the subject, when just a small editorial stance suffices just fine.  Btw, tokyo megaplex perfectly sums up what I am talking about.

    You claim how bad this game is, but here you are surfing message boards about it and reading amateur reviews about it.  Something tells me you surf the gamefaqs boards about this game as well.  Could your behavior scream "troll" any louder?

    I love gamers like you.  I bet you will buy the dlc for this game when it hits, too.

    <3

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