Review by ReelBigFishie
"I like snow."
SSX has achieved something that appeared impossible for quite a few years, it's a snowboarding game with more than a niche appeal! After enduring the stagnant Coolboarders series and various other yawnable snowboarding franchises, SSX should come as a breath of fresh air. One of the highlights of the PS2 launch, it combines the two contrasting concepts of doing tricks and going really fast better than any other title before it has. The arcade-like appearance of the game is quite misleading as it has a very good amount of depth as well. SSX has enough packed into its CD to appeal to the masses, and its likely that these same masses will get tired of it until their fingers are all red, raw and covered with blisters.
This is a game that a person can just jump straight into, although they'll probably be flattened by the opposition. Despite the whole control pad being put into use it won't take long at all to become accustomed to it, you can use the analogue stick or the d-pad to move your boarder and pushing the X button will make your character crouch in preparation for a jump. Once you're in the air the top four buttons and direction buttons will perform grabs, flips and twists, with combinations of the moves proving to be the biggest scorers. Pull off some of these ''mad/sick'' tricks to fill up a little adrenaline boost meter, using it will increase your speed dramatically, allowing you to mow down or put a gap between your opponents. Of course falling over repeatedly will make you look silly and let the race leaders get away.
SSX uses the tried and tested style of giving you the bare minimum at the start of the game, forcing you to unlock everything else, the easiest way to do this is win some races. There are three rounds on every course (quarter final, semi final and final), finishing in the top three in each will move you to the next round, doing it in the final will give you a medal along with the next track. These tracks are definitely the main attraction of the game, showing some great imagination by the designers, and leaving lots of room for many great tricks. They're huge tracks, the average race being about 3 - 4 minutes, but their outrageous designs will ensure that you won't tire of traversing them. Their settings are well varied, you'll snowboard through the middle of a city, a hawaiian iceberg and even a track that resembles a pinball machine (flippers and all!), and even with the stunning surroundings in all the levels a collection of huge jumps have been snuck in for you to trick off. If you're the first over a jump you might just also get treated to a huge fireworks display and of course this all looks awesome if you decide to make a replay of a run.
There are 8 characters available to you (4 of them need to be unlocked though) with a nice range of abilities evident in the small group. Some of them trick very quickly, and others are better at moving at insane speeds. However at the beginning of the game their stats will be rather low, only by earning medals can you improve them! The right board under their feet will also be helpful to their chances, but it's all very simple to work out, so don't stress about it!
There is more than just a race mode, if you prefer getting more technical then the Showoff selection may be more appealing, medals are achieved here by getting rather high scores. Or if you just want to relax choose the Freeride mode and move down at your own leisure. The tracks have enough shortcuts and hidden areas to prompt these repeated runs down them. The two-player mode is also a lot of fun, with a vertically split screen giving a reasonably good view of the upcoming terrain.
The visuals here in SSX are very good, with the previews of the tracks before each race being some of the most gobsmacking things you'll ever see. All of the trees and the buildings and various other obstacles that clutter the courses look very good, and you're unlikely to find any technical faults on the way down. All of the characters are well modelled. have nice attire, and are animated very well. The trails they leave in the snow are also a nice little effect. The audio is also very nice, with some very funny one-liners from the racers and the announcer. They're accompanied by a nice soundtrack filled with some cool techno tunes. It's all very good, nearly looking/sounding as well as the game plays.
Overall SSX is a very appealing game, one of the best PS2 games that you can find yourself at the moment. Even if you've never played let alone considered playing a snowboarding game, this title is likely to provide some enjoyment for you. If you're looking for some insane speed and adrenaline packed action then look no further than this title, even if you're not then SSX might just change your mind about it!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 02/03/01, Updated 02/22/01
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