The exhilarating snowboarding title makes a thrilling debut on the current-generation consoles.
If you thought SSX on last generation consoles was an exhilarating ride that you’ve been itching to re-live, then this game is a god-send for you. Because the next-generation SSX by EA Games not only keeps the elements that worked intact, it amps up the excitement and thrill the series is most famous for and provides a rollercoaster experience for the fans.
SSX is a snowboarding game, and not a realistic one at that. Let’s get that out of the way first, because if you’re looking for a snowboarding simulator this is the entire opposite of what you’re looking for. The keyword here is ‘extreme’ and the developers really did deliver on that front. Let’s start with the single player campaign, which in itself is done in excellent fashion. There’s a loose story here about the SSX team battling it out with a rival team over nine different mountains and it’s titled ‘Deadly Descent’. And deadly it is, because each of those nine missions is a different beast altogether. The levels are brilliantly designed to give a non-stop adrenaline rush and completely succeeds in doing so. You start off with easier and more accessible slopes that you’re supposed to race down and every time you finish one, you unlock a new character and a lot of new equipments and points to upgrade your gear. But as the game goes on, you’re treated to some breathtaking and dangerous mountains with all sorts of obstacles around you. The highlight includes an avalanche rolling up right behind you as you try to outrun it. Some of the drops are so dizzyingly massive that it comes as close to giving you a feeling of real height as a game ever can.
It’s all in the physics, which SSX nails once again. We already know that the game itself is not realistic since no human can ever make drops or pull off moves as sophisticated as that, much less mid-air. But once you dis-regard that, it actually does a great job of replicating the thrills of snowboarding at such a fast pace while being at home. Fast pacing is something that helps the game a lot because you’re constantly on your feet trying to find ways to grab air and do some tricks without having a failed landing. The controls are complex this time around since there are signature moves for each character than can be pulled off, but watching them in action while you’re dropping down is immensely satisfying to watch. Even sound effects do a great job at complementing the sense of thrill with thwacking sounds of wind helping with the realism.
And then there’s the online, which is where you’ll be the most after you’re done with the single player campaign. EA has provided with a very powerful hub called Ridernet where you can not only play against other players in a variety of different kind of match-ups. Not only that, you can play against their ghosts to beat their best scores and times. It’s a very diverse multiplayer system that you can invest a lot of time into and the game does reward you for that. But at the same time, one glaring omission which might irk a lot of gamers (especially the fans of the series) is the unfortunate lack of split-screen both online and offline. Simply put, there is no way you and a friend can play against each other or together on a single map because EA has decided to not offer that for some reason. It’s not like the series never had it before – split-screen multiplayer has been present on the Playstation 2 iterations. So there’s no reason for it to not be here, and this impacts the game quite a bit in my experience.
The graphics aren’t revolutionary but successfully transition the franchise onto next generation consoles. The players themselves look alright because frankly that’s not what you’re looking at most of the time. The environment is what counts and they are well detailed and modelled against their real life counterparts. But the biggest surprise here is the soundtrack which is actually pretty solid and adds a lot to the gameplay experience. We’ve got a lot of new artists as well as pros like Skillrex in the playlist and suffice to say that they managed to get a host of memorable tunes to go along with your snowboarding adventures.
SSX is a triumphant success that brings the thrilling snowboarding title to the starved gamers on the new generation consoles and does so by not breaking what already works but making it a lot more fun. Offline multiplayer is definitely missed, but everything else is surprisingly solid and makes for a much recommended title for sport gamers.