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Playstation 2






Electronic Arts



Electronic Arts



E (Everyone)



Q4 2000



- Fantastically fun track design

- Boarders have tons of personality

- Incredible soundtrack

- Interactive music

- Replay value



- Multiplayer experience tarnished if competitor breaks away

- Can be difficult to discern ideal point to jump for tricks

- Pushing down to tuck, then tumbling on a bump



Review: SSX Tricky (Gamecube)

Review: SSX Tricky (Playstation 2)

Review: SSX Tricky (XBox)



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Score: 9 / 10

When a new console launches what it really needs is some killer app titles. Itís all well and good to have amazing technology and be able to more polygons at a blistering rate, but itís all for not if there arenít any really good, fun titles to play on the new born system. SSX (short for Snowboard Super Cross) is just one of these killer app titles for the Playstation 2. Itís beautiful to look at and a ton of fun to play, not getting stale for a moment.

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From the time the game boots up the visual feast that the game presents is astounding, from the character models, to the vistas, to the speed, silky smooth animation. This graphics in SSX really hit home as to how far gaming technology has come in the last five years, and brings tremors of anticipation for what lies in wait for the years to come. The detail in the characters of the game is fantastic; they all have their own unique posture that reflects their attitude, not to mention the depth to their clothing. What really stands out however is the detail to the tracks. The locales all look amazing, peering out into the distance seeing the mountains, or looking at the nearby obstacles (look out for that tree!). Tying this graphical grandeur together is the gameís wonderfully smooth frame rate, allowing things to flow beautifully.





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Better still is that the gameís audio is just as good. First and foremost there is the absolutely amazing soundtrack, handled by Mix Master Mike (of Beastie Boys fame) and Rahzel. Unlike so many other snowboarding titles that are inundated with electronic and punk music, SSX has incredible groove oriented tunes with a hip hop twist to them, numbers like Gin Sin, Slash Dot, and the SSX theme are truly exceptional pieces. Making the songs even greater is how they are interactive. When doing a jump the music actually 


drifts away while in the air, leaving only the whistle of the wind, then when your boarder lands thereís an extra kick of the bass and percussion and the music starts up again. This does so much to increase the enjoyability of the title, adding a sense of drama to the races. Sound effects too are very well done. Hitting the snow actually sounds realistic, rail slides sound like rail slides, and smashing headfirst into a steel pole sounds like smashing headfirst into a steel pole. For dessert there is some very good voice acting in this title. Instead of going for corny catch phrases, EA has focused on giving the characters phrases that help to drive home their individual personalities. Mac is a young rookie on the scene and sounds it with his positive, "Letís do it!" demeanor. Kaori is a young, cheerful Japanese boarder whose good vibe oozes off of her. Then thereís Moby, a veteran British boarder, who has quite the attitude and high opinion of himself. He curses himself when he bails and cheers himself on when he lands insane combos. His best comment has to be "Ahh! My ego!" when he bails though. If SSX is any indication as to the direction that videogame audio is headed, the future looks bright indeed.

But enough about the technical aspects of the game, letís get into the gameplay.

For starters thereís the actual controls which are wonderfully simplistic, making for some very intuitive gaming. Thereís the directional buttons, of course, for moving the characters as well as performing 360s, flips, and such, then the X button controls jumps, square is for turbo, circle and triangle are for camera control, and the shoulder buttons handle tricks. Tricks are handled by hitting various combinations of the shoulder buttons and the direction control, and are there ever a lot of tricks. Chicken Salad, Japan Air, and Flying Squirrels are but a few of the tricks at your disposal. Best of all is that SSX runs fast and loose when it comes to physics. When doing flips it is quite possible to get up to 100 feet into the air and perform insane flips and combos, which look even better if you can land it straight into a rail slide. There are only a couple of very minor downsides to the gameís controls. First is that it can be difficult to judge the edge of a jump to get good air for tricks resulting in a nasty face-plant as you wind up only getting 2 feet of air instead of 20. This can be largely alleviated with practice, but sometimes it still happens. Second is a problem with accidental face-plants from going over small bumps. When going over these bumps while pressing forward to tuck, and get more speed, it is quite easy to start a forward rotation and land face first in the snow. As said these are minor annoyances, but they can make the game a little bit irritating.

Another feature to really stand out in SSX is the sheer size of the courses. These things are huge! Each level is chalk-full of twists and turns and plenty of jumps. It can take a good five minutes just to reach the bottom of a run sometimes. Better still is the shortcuts available and alternate routes, but be warned because some of these paths can be really hard, leaving your character bailing left and right. What are really neat are the level settings. Instead of going for marquee international mountains players get a mix of unusual settings, like the middle of a city, tearing between apartments, flying over over-passes, and dodging derelict vehicles. Unusual locales such as this are the order of the day in SSX (donít worry, there are actual alpine tracks as well), making the wonderfully carefree approach to snowboarding that the game takes stand out even more. Level design is top notch here.


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Thereís even two-player multiplay support. While it's nice to have multiplayer in SSX, it doesnít feel very competitive, much like any split-screen racing. If one player breaks away the game instantly feels like a single player game with half the screen to look at since players simply concentrate on what theyíre doing, not paying attention to their competitor. On the plus side though is the gameís wonderfully adjustable camera. Usually two-player split-screen winds up being a difficult compromise in visibility, but in SSX the camera angles provide all sorts of room to see whatís going on around you even though the screen size is halved.

SSX is a wonderful game, not only for being a solid launch title for the Playstation 2, but simply for being a beautiful, fun, arcade-styled snowboarding game. If you own a PS2 or are looking to get one SSX is definitely a title to consider for your games library.

- Mr. Nash

(December 12, 2000)

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