SSX straps gamers up for extreme challenges
SSX presents over-the-top swagger
The SSX franchise makes a glorious, outlandish return, rewarding players for bold and dangerous stunts with high scores.
Snowboarding Supercross (SSX) is the most recent franchise to release an installment in a series with the identical name to a past title. The most recent SSX game claimed fame off its completely over-the-top snowboarding action. But does this testament to old-school spectacle still retain relevancy in the current industry after sitting on the back burner for so long?
SSX holds its famed gameplay style by taking the extreme sport of snowboarding, kicking reality out the door and jumping headfirst into a pool of preposterousness.
Game play is divided between three types of events - races, "trickys" and survival. Races are pretty straightforward while survival events pit your wits and skill against various life-threatening elements such as low oxygen levels, rocky terrain and total darkness.
The game capitalizes on its claim to fame tricky events. This includes getting down to the bottom of the mountain while building up the largest score possible.
By way of the right analog stick, one performs tricks by flicking or turning the stick various directions while using the left stick to control flips and spins. The more extravagant the trick is, the higher the score. Flow is very important in the stylization of this game, and the clever control system keeps you from focusing too hard on technicalities, instead allowing a bigger focus on the awe-inspiring feats to perform.
The more tricks you do, the further you progress though the three ranks of your tricky level. The higher the level achieved, the more insane the tricks to perform become, with each character having their own signature Uber Tricky. Ramps, rails and even a helicopter are amongst your means to achieve amazing stunts.
Tracks can occasionally be treacherous to the point of illogically frustrating, but the flow is saved by a new and cleverly implemented mechanic. If you fall off a mountain or screw up a particularly impressive combo, the simple press of a button will rewind you to the point of your choosing. Keep in mind however, the longer the feature is used, the more points are sacrificed.
The game's main menu offers three separate modes: World Tour, Exploration and Global Event. The World Tour mode is the game's closest relation to a campaign or story, where you control several members of Team SSX who have vowed to tackle nine of the world's deadliest descents before facing rival snowboarder Griff Simmons.
The tour is broken down into nine sections, where nine different riders attempt various challenges on a surrounding mountain range with the famous descent of that range serving what amounts to the game's "boss battles." Each of the nine descents are survival challenges and are attempted with the gear you choose to equip your rider with to help survive whatever natural danger you face.
Exploration is the most cut-and-dry mode in the game. It is best described as the game's free play option. You can tear down any track you have unlocked through World Tour with any of the three events on each track. You can even compete against friends for high scores through the online service RiderNet. You can also customize your rider with various gears, mods, boards and suits for a unique experience each time.
Finally, Global Event uses RiderNet and is the game's closest comparison to an online mode. A curious design choice, there is no direct competitive mode offered in the game. Instead, you race against ghosts of other players and friends in an attempt to beat their times and scores, as well as collecting their "geo-tags" - a fun token-based hide-and-seek mini-game. Global Event is something of a gambling service, allowing you to wager the currency you earn through challenges to see if you can take down people on the leader boards, ultimately gaining more currency for purchasing and unlocking more gear and events.
SSX is extremely colorful, using a visual style that perfectly suits its over-the-top bravado. The sound track is an excellent mix of techno, electric rock and pop that fits the game play like a glove. This is all complimented by various effects such as a ground morphing visual when you land a particularly impressive trick or the music fading when you catch huge air.
SSX is a fantastic game. Grinding and questionably long retry loading times can occasionally wear down your patience when trying a run for the 10th time, but there is just no arguing the game's quality. There is not another experience like it on the market.
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