This page was last updated on Thursday, 17 May 2001.
Snowboard game : 1-2 players : PS2 Memory Card : Analogue Dual Shock : EA Sports / EA Sports
Result : 8 - this is next-gen!
SSX is a fantastic snowboarding game. Snowboarding had been done to death on the PSX, the N64 game 1080 was good, but there are very few sporting games that capture the spirit of a game like SSX. It is colourful, fun, and innovative. You get a variety of non-sponsored riders to choose from, you know the sort - the pretty boy, the jiggly woman, the Jap girl, the big bruiser, the rad loner, but they are full of character, and feel different inplay as well. You get the range of boards, the main difference being the paintjobs and the fact the they generally get better. Then there are the tracks. This is one outstanding difference from previous attempts; the tracks are very well designed, but they are also strongly themed. Sure most have snow, but when you hit the cityscape level (full of glass ramps, and roads to jump) you know that things have diverged from the norm. So what do you do? main go from start to finish, trying to stay upright, and pulling off tricks as you go. There are two main modes - Single Event and World Mode. The former is basically the arcade mode, letting you get instant access to a type of level, the world mode is where you can unlock all the extras, and improve your riders stats by earning experience from winning, and upgrading things like Speed, Cornering, and how well you do tricks. Each mode has different types of races, the two most used are Race (where you have to get from A to B quickest), and Show-off (get from A to B while pulling off tricks), there are also the training levels, and Freeride. This is especially good as you can practice any unlocked track, and also since there is no time limit, explore the off-pieste areas of each level, and trust me, some levels you can almost do without ever being on the defined course! The other feature of note is the Advanced Replay. This allows you to view, save and load races or bits of races/tricks you have done. You can position new cameras, and edit stuff just like using a video camera, great stuff.
Graphics are fantastic, the huge horizons, the speed, the optional full user-controlled replays, and all smoother than a lounge lizard.
Sound is truly special. Nothing irritates (yet), and the music gets more complex and excited with the more stunts and action that's happening. Fall behind the pack and things start to mellow, be right in the thick, doing gnarly stunts, and punching the other riders and the notes pump out fat notes, reactive tunes! The tracks are all made by (supposedly) well knownish DJ's. So while the techno and dance type tracks are very good (even I enjoy them), one does wish for the odd guitar riff. Also of note are the menus which verbalise the selections you choose, a a sort of reverb stereo, Funky. All the sound effects seem realistic too, the swish of the snow, grinding on rails, all wonderful.
So many features, gorgeous tracks, excellent production values - for a launch game SSX is gobsmacking! SSX is a game that shows what the future can hold. I can't imagine how Dolby5.1 can be better than this, will we get photo-realism? The game is massive, but how can you improve lifespans and replay values? The only slight niggles are things like AI and the lifespan, as after maxing out one character the rest become far easy to do. Both are very good, better than Gran Turismo, and these are the sorts of things that the Emotion Engine are meant to give over PSX games, as it is SSX does everything better than all the snowboarding games before it, but peel away the gloss and power and things are still similar. Next-gen? maybe. It does induce emotions, my cheeks hurt from unconscious smiling as I first played it, and now frustration and determination have joined in as I battle to get past the harder stuff. So there we have it, gaming of the future, now!
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