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SSX Review

Game

Game Details

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Screenshots

Steve Burns

SSX isn't deadly, but it is certainly a descent. Fans beware.

SSX 2.jpg

Published on Feb 27, 2012

Rebooting a franchise is a risky business: doubly so for a long-dormant one like SSX. Do you completely redesign the original template to appeal to new players? Or tweak the existing mechanics, while keeping the core gameplay, to win  back those that might have become tired of previous iterations?  

Both paths have advantages and disadvantages to them, but the biggest pitfall is succeeding at neither: hedging bets, not striking out far enough from, or sticking close enough to, the original form.

SSX falls into this trap in classic fashion. This is design by committee nonsense that can’t keep track of its own confused design goals, slumping between two stools like a strip-club drunk.

It gives us no pleasure to say this. We loved the earlier SSX games because they had it all: personality and playability. Madness and strategy. Tricks and tactics. This is all but gone in the new version. Which we could appreciate if there was a new direction being taken, but there’s not.

Maybe there was when the project started, but SSX is as confused a game as you could (not) hope for. Specifically: this SSX doesn’t know if it wants to be a tricked-out laugh riot or more straight-laced board sim, and in its schizophrenia it can’t manage either, devolving into monotonous, grey frustration.

The tracks start to run together due to being uninspiring.

Initially, things seem okay. The trick system is still easy to get to grips with. Some of said tricks, especially the top-level ubers, look very cool indeed. The tours and progression of the levels is good. The courses can be genuinely vertiginous, and catching some massive air off of the side of a dam or mountainside is exhilarating.

The handling is a bit twitchy, though. Then, after an hour’s play, the flaws creep up on you like an assassin, ready to stab you mercilessly through your nostalgia gland.

The tricks are boring to look at and too easy to pull off, burying any chance of players wanting or needing to put together more elaborate combos. The incessant greyscape of the courses start to blur together into one long dull track, devoid of colour or landmarks, anything to raise the blood.  

Another while passes and you then realise that SSX essentially plays itself, an unforgivable decision in any score-attack game in any genre. You auto-land if you let go of all the buttons, meaning that bailing, frustratingly, is very rarely an issue.

The game needs that fear: there’s no satisfaction in pulling off tricks if there’s no skill or timing involved.  Continuing the autoplay vibe: the game guides you onto nearby rails.

Not in the sense that it’ll give you a little nudge in the right direction if you’re a tiny amount off course, but in that it grabs your rider and drags them onto the grind whether you like it or not.

The fact that it does this when you’re in the middle of tricks is enough for us to launch the pad higher than the peak of Everest itself. There’s also no balancing mechanic while on the rails themselves: you simply glide along with no risk/reward mechanic in sight, which sums up the entire experience.  

Course design is just as maddening. The aforementioned, rare thrill of massive air aside, plotting out your landing is near-impossible thanks to dreadful line-of-sight issues. This is bad enough on its own – although the game does do most of the work for you, remember – and is made much, much worse by the numerous insta-death pits of doom.

 

The visuals are rather poor by today's standards.

 

In keeping with the dropped ‘Deadly Descents’ tagline, just surviving the mountain is meant to be an achievement. And it is: getting to the bottom of the mountain, while racing your foes and not falling into these pits – which instantly end the event! – is a mixture of both pure luck and overuse of the rewind button.

Yes, the rewind button. Even this doesn’t really work. Holding it down takes you back in time, but not your competitors. So if, for no doubt the hundredth consecutive time, you’ve fallen into a pit you couldn’t see nor avoid, you rewind to get yourself back in the race you’ll often see your opponent streaming past you into an unassailable lead.

It’s pad-smashingly frustrating and – topped off with the squirrelly controls and sometimes-bizarre physics (we once boarded back up a sheer incline because, hey, why not?) – unacceptable.  

It’s hard to shake the feeling that SSX never recovered, design-wise, from the fan uproar that occurred when it was first revealed and looked all Call Of Duty.

Was the game positioned even further away from the SSX template before this happened? Were more ‘classic’ SSX elements then introduced in a panic over the divisive reveal?

We’ll never know, but the end result is that this new SSX has no idea what it’s trying to be. It’s a confused mess that tries to please two distinct audiences rather than striking at one. It reaches neither, and ironically if EA attempted to play it safe it got the exact opposite result. 

 

Score Breakdown
Graphics
5.0 / 10
Sound
7.5 / 10
Gameplay
4.5 / 10
Longevity
6.3 / 10
Multiplayer
N/A / 10
Overall
4.5 / 10
Final Verdict
SSX can’t decide what it wants to be and in turn frustrates and infuriates as poor design decisions smash into each other with alarming regularity. A real let-down, given the series it comes from, and a missed opportunity.
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Game Details
SSX 5.jpg
Format:
PS3
Release Date:
02/03/2012
Price:
£44.99
Publisher:
EA
Developer:
EA Canada
Genre:
Sports
No. of players:
1
Verdict
4.5 /10
SSX is a confused mess.
Screenshot Gallery
SSX 2.jpg SSX 4.jpg SSX 3.jpg SSX 8.jpg SSX 7.jpg SSX 1.jpg SSX 6.jpg
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