SSX

SSX

This PlayStation 3 game has solid customization features, custom soundtrack, a massive online player playground, one player challenges, and extensive multiplayer options, and impressive and outrageous visual environments utilizing NASA topographical data and EA’s proprietary Mountain Man tool.

The snowboarding movements are inspired by the Need For Speed autolog engine and features a character story about the SSX team conquering the nine Deadly Descents (the most dangerous mountains in the world).

Each character gets a fun comic book-like background story as the team races to beat Olympic gold medal winner Griff to conquering this considerable challenge. Other characters include Canadian bombshell Elise, familiar U.S. daredevil Mac, former Japanese Olympic hopeful Kaori, Canadian Psymon, British/Trinadadian Moby, American Zoe, Norweigian Ty, “hippie” Fijian Tane and Frenchwoman Alexis.

The PlayStation 3 SSX version includes exclusive Mount Fuji environment content and players can also grab add-on/downloadable content (DLC). Installing only takes 500 KB of hard drive space and players first encounter some helpful tutorials initiated after the now standard helicopter jump. Next players can access the Explore (friend challenges) and Global Events (worldwide competition) modes.

SSX offers high-speed snowboarding, a massive online playground, intuitive controls, and unique graphics that add great visual appeal that help you navigate through familiar worldwide courses including the Great Wall of China, Patagonia, Alaska’s pipelines, African mazes, Siberian icelands, and abandoned nuclear reactors.

The high-speed snowboarding features different boards with different properties and some special situations where players must battle environmental obstacles. The new night vision elements (via headlamps) provide even more variety to the gameplay as players race, trick, or survive the environments.

Race, Trick, and Survive down huge open mountains. Racing forces players to find the fastest path while tricks feature gravity defying moves that provide some large appeal. Players can fill their “Tricky” meter relatively easily regardless of their skill level thanks to a helpful control system. Classic controls are available and combination moves really boost player performance. The new “survive it” element incorporates the harsh environmental levels for big challenges where players need oxygen, armor, a warming solar suit, and even a wingsuit to succeed.

The massive online playground has online options in the Explore (race, trick, and survived) and Global Events modes. The Explore mode has a leaderboard, ghost visuals, and friend challenges, which basically replace the traditional two player offline split-screen mode. The Global Events mode lets players compete against anyone (from a maximum 100,000 players) at any drop point in real-time. This dynamic status mode gives players the itch to get back into the foray as the world continues when players are away. Players can invite friends to these events, which can extend beyond the standard gaming session length. The player tracking system RiderNet, inspired by the Need For Speed autolog engine, lets players customize, “favorite”, provide feedback, communicate, and interact about their experiences. RiderNet provides special alerts on updates, items, challenges, friend activities, scores and more pertinent player information.

The intuitive controls work well with the fluid analog stick and button combinations. Maximum progress obviously requires considerable skill and well-timed jumps though novices can often stay with the pack thanks to the intuitive control system introduced at the beginning tutorial. Some situations happen so fast that it would be great to have a “slow-mo” option. Players could even use their tricky meter to slow things down fast speed situations…maybe next time.

Game developers use NASA topographical satellite data and a Google-Earth inspired interface for an environmental experience that also includes shortcuts, special tunnels, and hidden helpers. The helicopter pilot also assists with helpful intel from a birds’ eye view. This helpful information helps players strategize and conquer the real enemy in this game – the awe-inspiring yet brutal environments.

The music soundtrack features the The Qemists. Skrillex, Foster the People, Pretty Lights, Noisia, The Naked and Famous, and Dubstep. Players can also load their own music into the game. Highly recommended (***1/2 out of four stars). Also available on Xbox 360.

Copyright © Michael Siebenaler

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