Top critical review
4 people found this helpful
SSX Going Downhill
on March 30, 2012
The first snowboard videogame I ever played was 1080 for the N64 (GRANT!) and it was glorious. When my parents got me a PS2 one year for Christmas they also got me the two best videogames I have ever played to this date: Jak and Daxter and SSX Tricky. SSX Tricky was like nothing I'd ever played before and it blew me away. The levels, the character personalities, the awesome tricks; the game was fantastic in its lack of realism and visuals and was a ton of fun.
SSX3, I thought, was a worthy sequel to the series. I liked the new mechanic of an entirely connected mountain, giving you the ability to ride from the top all the way to the bottom and not compete in anything at all. It almost felt like an open sandbox kind of game. I also loved the customization. You could completely personalize your character with different outfits and different Tricky tricks that you bought with your earnings from the events. The inclusion of a loose story was also cool in that it gave the player more motivation.
This newest release, SSX, is great in some respects but for me it lacks in a lot of the features that SSX3 had, and that's why I still prefer SSX3. The level design is gorgeous and realistic yes, but at the same time repetitive and too broken up. The lines can be fun, if you can find them, which admittedly I have a lot of trouble trying to do. The levels just don't have the same unique and fantastic feel that they had in Tricky and SSX 3. I do like that they keep the idea of a story and take it to a new level in this game. The world tour competition of the "Deadly Descents" is a great idea, and the fact that they give the player just one antagonist to focus on made the story more riveting. Their choice of Griff to be the main antagonist was a good one, as I have never liked him and always saw him as a little snot-nose punk. But this is where my praise ends.
My main gripe with this new game is the complete detachment I feel with any of the players of Team SSX. There is a total lack of customization of your character, and I did not like that you are forced to use every team member of SSX. I understand that this fits in with the story line, but I don't see a reason for it other than that. All of the characters feel the same during play, so it isn't a matter of trying to get the player to try them all out before they settle on one for the rest of the game. What made SSX3 so great for me was that I played from Peak 1 to Peak 3 with my favorite character (has been, is, and always will be Kaori Nishidake) and she was completely unique to me beginning to end from the stats I chose, the tricks I bought, and the outfit I customized. I felt a personal connection! The same goes for the second playthrough with Psymon, and the third with Zoe! I cannot say I felt the same enthusiasm or connection to any character in the new SSX. The lack of customization is very disappointing, and even a little lazy on EA's part.
Even though I never cared for the new characters SSX tried to implement, I at least remember Allegra, Viggo and Nate from SSX 3. I just now had to look up Tane, Alex and Ty to remember their names. Maybe it's just me, but I found them to be extremely forgettable and inconsequential. Tane and Ty might as well be the same person, and Alex is just an Elise wannabe. The fact that I had to play as them made me dislike them even more, and I found myself aching to be done with those Deadly Descents.
Speaking of which, the only Deadly Descent I can say I truly enjoyed was the "Gravity" one. The implementation of the wingsuit is very, very cool. I only wish that every deadly descent involved the wingsuit. The "Darkness" Deadly Descent with the headlamp is very challenging, but in a fun way. And I'm very happy that they include the wingsuit with it at Mt. Kilimanjaro. However, while the rest of the Deadly Descents were all unique and provided some variation in gameplay, I cannot say I particularly enjoyed any of them.
My final gripe is that despite the fact that SSX is and always has been a snowboard game, for some reason the snowboards are never the focus. Admittedly, I have not played the original SSX, SSX On Tour, or SSX Blur. But judging from Tricky, 3, and the newest installment, there is very little attention payed to the object the entire franchise is based on. Nothing is done to make the snowboards stand out. The graphics are always boring and never unique, nor can the player ever see a closeup of the snowboard. In the newest SSX, they raise the generic bar by randomizing the stats and naming everything "Rocket Board," "Trick Board," "Speed Board," or "All-Around Board" and throw a "rare" or "unique" in front of it to designate better than average stats. SSX Tricky is an exception in that each character had their own unique boards with names and graphics that matched the personalities of the character. SSX 3 at least kept the unique names, but the trend seems to be taking the spotlight off of the snowboard. I understand that in a game with no room for realism, it might not be as important to develop the snowboard as it is other features like character and level design, but at heart it is a snowboarding game, so some attention should be payed to the snowboard.
I apologize for the wordy review, I even had to cut it short. I had fun playing this game, but I've always been an avid fan of the SSX franchise and I was sincerely disappointed in this new one, so I felt I needed to voice my opinion. I'll most likely return to SSX 3, which I believe to be the best in the series. As far as I'm concerned however, there is no game in the industry quite like SSX, and it still goes down in my book as the best snowboard game out there, and one of the best franchises I've ever played.