The lights are on
Score: 7.75 / 10
PC - PS3 - Xbox 360
Developer: EA Sports
Release Date: February 29th, 2012
SSX was all about insane tricks, gravity defying
physics, and a stellar soundtrack while carving down a mountain. With
the last true title being released around 2005, it's been some time
since we have heard from the series. Now SSX has returned, with a new
look that has an overall darker feel. The result is the familiar
over-the-top tricks the series if famous for, hampered by the vision to
make a more realistic game.
We Came to Rock Around
is not one to focus on story, but EA has attempted to set some
precedence for these band of riders to face death defying cliffs. Team
SSX was formed to entertain, but one of their members has defected and
brought the fan base and glory with him. Now it is up to Team SSX to
regain their fans and take down Griff's spotlight through deadly runs
down infamous mountains. Though the game tries to hold your attention
with brief introductory cutscenes and comic book panel of character
profiles, it fails to really establish a basis for a plot. This is
disheartening, considering the once colorful cast of characters have
been deduced to lifeless husks with little personality besides
occasional quips when riding.
While the story remains
pointless, the intensity and feeling of SSX is still very much alive.
The overall sensation is as close as one could get to carving down a
steep mountain and landing an insane trick. This is in no small part due
to a fantastic presentation. The sound of ice crunching under your
board, the glistening sunlight off of a patch of ice, and the camera
shake as you boost to a jump all combine to give off a feeling of speed
making its return is clever track design. SSX is set in a way so that
if you miss a jump or bail a trick, there is always another opportunity
lying in wait. Tracks are littered with rails and ramps and its
ultimately up to the player on their optimum path down the slopes. These
work well at times, but later tracks can be downright cruel as the
amount of crevices and cliffs has increased. Even with a Rewind feature
at your disposal, the penalties are steep for missing a jump or turning
the wrong way and you can find your incredibly high combo trashed with
the flick of the thumbstick.
With SSX, comes a
memorable soundtrack; and this game is no different. There is plenty of
variety offered; ranging from the alternative sound of The Naked and
Famous to the ever persistent dubstep of Nero. An updated version of Run
DMC's "It's Tricky" even returns to accompany your ability to achieve
Tricky status. While I found myself yearning for a few classics to
return like Yellowcard's "Way Away", the soundtrack is solid, and you
will be quick to pick your favorites.
Hit the Slopes
single player campaign aptly named "World Tour" spans nine countries,
and acts as a tutorial for the basic features of the game. You will
compete in the three base game types; Race, Tricky, and Survive It.
Completing each event will unlock more tracks on top of netting you a
base amount of currency to spend on improved gear. There are no medals
awarded in the single player, and it is either pass or fail.
new Survive It mode is the prime focus of the single player experience,
and despite mixing up the expected gameplay, it ends up detracting from
the core of what SSX is about. The need to press a button to supply
oxygen or watch your health and armor while careening down a mountain
come off as less of a challenge, and more of a chore. The most
frustrating addition is the new Avalanche mode, in which controls are
reversed and the camera is placed in the most unfortunate angle you will
ever experience. Not all of them are terrible, as the wingsuit's use to
cross gaps or the pulse goggle's outline of terrain in whiteout
conditions have potential outside of their intended use.
only real incentive to play the campaign is to unlock what is offered
and move on. Besides a few character unlocks and comic inspired panels
establishing character backstory, there is no real reason to dive into
this mode considering the amount of content awaiting you just one option
down. The fact that you can actually skip an event if you fail it too
many times and still net all the credits and unlocks offered just adds
reason to stray to other features.
Let's See You Beat That!
"Explore It" mode is where you will spend most of your time, and there
is plenty of content available to keep you busy. In this mode you
compete in either Race, Tricky, or Survive It and are awarded a bronze,
silver, or gold medal depending on your performance. The gold medals are
no pushovers, and will require a bit of effort to place your name at
competitive nature of upkeeping a score is further enhanced thanks to
the online competition. Your friends' best times and score will appear
for each track, and the game even offers a bounty for overcoming their
records. Any of your personal records broken are alerted to you when you
first fire up the game, and seeking bragging rights will soon have you
returning to perfect a run.
Credits earned from races
and events can be spent on gear. The customization has also taken a step
down, with the only true character outfitting being a single suit
choice. Credits become plentiful and it will take no time at all to
outfit a character with a fast board and glowing suit. Credits can also
be earned from laying down "Geotags" that you can scatter in hidden
places on the course for other players to pick up.
real appeal of SSX arises from the competitive multiplayer, and the
Global Events do a fine job of providing an interesting way to play with
others. There are no game lobbies, no long queues; the game just drops
you onto the slopes and lets you get to the action. During your run you
will see ghosts and images of players actively playing the same map at
the same time as you, giving a welcome populated feel to the lonely
mountain in a manner akin to Dark Souls.
have set "brackets" that offer rewards. Player scores and times shape
these brackets, and depending on your performance you are put into a
range from Bronze to Diamond. Getting into a higher bracket and staying
there will net you a hefty amount of credits, with the total increasing
with each range.
events can last anywhere from minutes to days, and the variety and
amount offered will promise rewards for practically anyone competing.
There are even some events that require you to ante up a couple thousand
credits before entering to further weed out a few riders. Whether you
are pro or noob, there are events out there that can promise rewards.
entire multiplayer setup is a double edged sword. On the one hand, you
have no real wait times to get right to the action besides a load
screen. On the other hand the only way to simultaneously play with a
friend online is to time your drops together, though once you being your
run you are quickly separated as you each follow a separate path. The
most disappointing feature that remains absent is the lack of
splitscreen, even in offline mode.
makes a great return where you would expect, but the added realism and
lack of single player focus hampers the game from making its mark. The
nostalgic feel is there at times, but usually fades the second you retry
a race for the fifth time or careen into a cliff. Fans of SSX will have
plenty to enjoy, but may be left wanting more.
This is a truly great review. You've done it again!