After sinking my teeth into a few hours of EA’s new entry in the SSX line, I feel like I’m ready to stand here and give you some quick reactions. Is this a full review? No, unfortunately Mass Effect 3 is keeping me from that. But these are, as the title suggests, some snap judgements.
The snowboarding itself feels good. In the purest and most simple sense, the down-the-mountain action here is just as solid as it’s always been. Yes, one could have gripes with the old-school nature of the tricking system and how friendly it is towards random spamming, but the actual riding feels silky smooth. If you’re looking for a nice, sensible riding arcade title, then SSX is a great option.
It’s too bad that it never lives up to the over-the-top style of its predecessors. Every course and mountain I’ve seen is a blend of dark and straight forward. There are no crazy, indoor, Japanese boarding arenas like I remember from Tricky. Do you remember the Tokyo Megaplex? I do. I loved that track.
There’s nothing in SSX like it.
The story here is absolute cheese. I’m not even sure why EA Sports thought it was necessary to add it into the experience. You’ve got an opening narration that tells you there’s good guys and one bad, you’ve got weird motion comics for each new character and you’ve got these, basically, boss mountains called, like the original subtitle, “Deadly Descents.” The whole thing feels over-the-top and silly.
I’m not one to skip cutscenes. I did that here. Constantly. They just feel so out of place in an otherwise strong experience.
Fortunately, what does seem to be the best and most prevelant feature here is the encouragement to return and keep playing. You earn an absolute crap ton of credits for everything you do while racing. Those credits can be cashed in for new boards, characters, costumes and equipment. And all of those things, subsequently, will reward you with an even better racing experience.
That’s SSX’s greatest feature: it maintains that “need to play” essence that its predecessors were keen on. It doesn’t do it with as much flair or as much humor, but it’s still a game that I’ve managed to enjoy.
The best and worst news here is that I’m already looking for the next game. This title is a strong foundation for this series’ relaunch, but it stops there. It’s fun, but it could be a lot better.