Guest Reviewer Esler takes the piste!
It has been almost six years since the last true SSX game. A lot has changed since then. Extreme sports games are nowhere near as popular as they used to be and Tony Hawk hasn’t even released a game in a good few years. In spite of the long period between games it feels like the whole crew have been ready and waiting for their triumphant return. The game looks and feels fantastic with great controls and a great atmosphere in game.
The story (yes, story) of the game is that Zoe and Griff have decided to tackle the worlds most deadly descents. These descents are located around the whole world with each having a different rider to conquer the mountain. Griff splits from the group of SSX riders and the descents then turn in to a competition to show up Griff and prove Team SSX are far superior to Team Griff.
The game plays like a hybrid between Skate and Tony Hawk Pro Skater in terms of the control scheme. There are two different layouts based on either the use of the face buttons on the control or the right analogue stick to pull off tricks. What is more interesting about the gameplay is the integration of different types of equipment. This equipment ranges from ice axes to use on iced terrain, armour, head lamps, oxygen tanks, solar panels, pulse goggles that show the contours of the terrain and my personal favourite: the wingsuit. These pieces of equipment add a whole new dimension of the game and the feeling you get from soaring high above the mountain with the wingsuit deployed is awe inspiring. As you look down upon the other riders as you soar above the race you get a feeling of serenity as you evade the dangers of the slope.
One final piece of the puzzle for the mechanics of the game is the ability to rewind time. These can be limited, unlimited or turned completely off throughout the many events on offer. This means that if you fly off the edge of the mountain it isn’t the end or if you get a mouth full of snow you have the pleasure of skipping back to watch the demise of your combo all over again if you aren’t careful. The rewind system has been done before, but here it adds a safety net for those who might have a tendency to try and fly without the wingsuit and personally I found it very welcome at some points.
The game has both a story type mode that is used as an introduction to the basics of the game and a series of events on each of the descents that are accessible via purchasing them through the level select screen with money you have earned. These levels can consist of survival events, races and trick events. The objective of each of these is pretty straight forward but the levels are both fast paced and have multiple routes through them that add to the excitement of flying down a mountain at 300km/ph.
Although SSX doesn’t necessarily have a multi-player mode it does have some awesomely cool modes that make a great use of online. The first is the Autolog like system that pits you against those on your friends list in a bid to control the top spot on each run of the mountain. This mode is dubbed RiderNet and will notify if somebody has beaten your score and even recommend friends for you to add if you want to expand your network.
There is also an online global event set up where pots are put up for events which riders can either enter for free or use their hard earned in game points to wager on much larger pots. The events can last anywhere between 30 minutes to weeks at a time with loads of different criteria amongst them. You can even set up your own events for your friends and others to take part in privately. The final part of the online aspect of the game is the geotags. These markers can be placed throughout runs and those who collect them are awarded with experience and credits, but if you manage to place these where others cannot collect them you are rewarded handsomely for your cunning with even more points and experience. These rewards encourage you not only to explore the levels further but try and find the unreachable and unthinkable locations in the game allowing you to experience everything each mountain has to offer.
As with every extreme sports game, music is what defines how you feel while pulling off sick combos. I’m glad to see that although it is a remix that “It’s Tricky” is still on form and still has a great feel when your combo amps up and you enter tricky mode. There is a good mix of dance songs and some indy music and a good all round mix. The soundtrack captures the atmosphere of snowboarding and has the feel of your favourite skate/snowboarding edits.
The look of the game is astounding. You can see the snow slowly crunch under the board as you land and each mountain is a great view. The HUD look slick and blends well in to the style of the game. Each time you enter tricky mode the screen comes alive with colour as the ends of your board glisten and the combos become more extravagant and outrageous. Even when you are amidst a race it is hard not to stand and take in the scenery as most of the time you are so eager to pass it in a blur of tricks and boost.
SSX is a great game and was a blast to play. At some points it can get rather tricky and you might want to smash a controller or two, but once you come to grips with the mechanics and settle in to the flow of things you will start to experiment and find your favourite moves and characters to tackle the slopes with. Don’t miss out on what is yet another fantastic edition to a pretty awesome series.
A totally rad 9 out of 10