I never really got into SSX when it was out on previous consoles but since then I’ve actually taken up snowboarding in real life so was keen to try out this reboot of the game which means I can try out all sorts of gravity-defying stunts and not have to be escorted down the mountain in what they call a blood wagon.
The story is pretty straight forward. A dude called Griff who’s part of SSX team has gone rogue, presumably for more money and sponsorship gear, so it’s up to the remaining members to take to the slopes to prove they’re the best and this time they’ve upped the odds considerably because not only must you help them get down the mountains around the globe quickly and stylishly whilst it’s all broadcast live, but you must also simply survive some off them as you’re swallowed up by avalanches, have to deal with deadly drops, extreme cold, thin air and trees!
There are two ways to control your riders – you can either use the buttons to grab different parts of your board or do it using the right analogue stick. You can then tweak your moves using the right trigger and use combinations of buttons or stick swivels to grab with two hands and tweak things even further. Link these moves together as you carve down the mountain and you can build up your TRICKY meter. Once it’s full you hold down both triggers and pull of insane stunts for big points. I tried both methods and once you get the hang of it, the stick system is much more intuitive as you also wind up jumps by pulling back and pushing up at the lip of a jump.
There’s a good selection of favourite and new riders to unlock and each comes with special gear to help them survive such as armour, ice picks, oxygen masks and wing suits which can be deployed to fly you over huge gaps.
World Tour mode has you race, trick and survive 9 deadly descents but there’s also the more free-form Explore mode where you earn medals for racing wherever you like and Global Events where you compete with others online for the best score. The great thing here is that these events are open for a set time limit and you can jump in and race against ghosts whenever you like, set the best score you can and can even win even if you’re not about when the event closes. RiderNet also lets you compare your times and scores with friends and is basically the snowboarding equivalent of Need for Speed’s AutoLog.
The game looks super slick and the soundtrack is cool. Reservations include some strange animations when the riders are waiting in the helicopter, some spelling mistakes in the menus and cut scenes and also the difficulty curve. This game really is almost as tricky as learning to do the real thing. It throws you in at the deep end with some expert AI to deal with right from the get-go but at least does offer you the chance to buy new gear as you earn currency that will make things easier. Like the real thing, practice also helps too and you will find that things suddenly ‘click’ if you put the time and effort in. Still, at least you don’t get the bruises in this game and the rewind button is a god-send when you go plunging into a ravine.
SSX gets an excellent 8 out of 10.
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