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SSX (PlayStation 2) artwork

SSX (PlayStation 2) review

"Well it appears that the name “Snowboard Supercross” just isn’t cool enough for EA, perhaps it was too long for today’s average gamer to memorise or perhaps it just didn’t sound erotic enough, the important thing is that this little game has been named SSX. It’s only one letter away from America’s favourite spectator sport, but when it comes to pleasure they’re worlds apart. This game was dubbed by many to be the must have game upon the launch of the PlayStation2, but this insignificant reviewer..."

Well it appears that the name “Snowboard Supercross” just isn’t cool enough for EA, perhaps it was too long for today’s average gamer to memorise or perhaps it just didn’t sound erotic enough, the important thing is that this little game has been named SSX. It’s only one letter away from America’s favourite spectator sport, but when it comes to pleasure they’re worlds apart. This game was dubbed by many to be the must have game upon the launch of the PlayStation2, but this insignificant reviewer is going to have to take up the stance of naysayer and tell the people that SSX is only mediocre. It does have many features that make it playable, but it does not offer the mind-blowing action that many others have led you to believe.

The visual aspect of this game is certainly not the one at fault, it actually looks quite pretty, one of the best looking PS2 games out there at the moment! It’s very refreshing to see a game with characters that actually have rounded limbs, that’s the power of Playstation for you and that’s not where the improvements stop! I’m not one to throw the term “bodacious” around, but it’s the word that best describes the group of boarders that you can control. Sporting the latest haircuts and some trendy designer clothes (you can even see the bagginess, oh lord, ALL THAT BAGGINESS!) it’ll be a fair while before you see a cooler group of snowboarders. When put into action all of their animations look realistic, those crashes will make a person wince with pain they’re that good. There aren’t too many problems with this group, well-proportioned people that look like they know what they’re doing; it’s all you need.

The courses being raced on are very long, but the graphical standard stays high through the whole things. There’s not just your basic snow, trees and log cabins on these tracks either, you’ll get to see some highly imaginative inclusions on your way down. On the Metropolitan course for example, the course is lined with huge buildings, power cables and streetlights. If it weren’t for the reasonably quick pace of the action you’d probably sit and stare with reverential fear for minutes at a time, soaking in all the scenery. The interaction between rider and track is done very nicely, it’s always fun watching the snow trails stream out behind you and smashing all the different kinds of glass barriers on the tracks makes you feel like such a little rebel! It’s fair to say that these tracks would be some of the best looking you’ve ever seen (the previews at the start of each race look absolutely fantastic just by the way).

Overall, the graphics show quite a bit of what the PS2 is actually capable of. There are very few faults in the whole graphical section, the only major one being some fluctuations when it comes to the frame rate. You might get tired of staring at all of that white snow after a while, but those backgrounds should be entertaining enough to draw you away from the powder. It’s generally a very crisp graphical package, just don’t turn up the brightness lest you be completely and utterly blinded!

The sound has some very nice touches, but it’s not as interesting as it should be. The background music is one of the weaker sections of the game, there are a few nice tracks included in there but the entire collection come across as repetitive and boring. Most of the “songs” they’ve heaped into here are lifeless dance mixes, but I honestly can’t see these tunes making anybody dance anytime soon. These are probably tunes that a person would associate with snowboarding, they’ve probably been designed to fit SSX very snugly, but that doesn’t hide the fact that they sound like rubbish and are more likely to make blood come out of your ears then the actual act of snowboarding will.

It’s lucky for the above collection that the sound effects and voice acting and other miscellaneous noises are above par. The commentator is a man of many emotions, he takes your crashes personally and will berate you for them, but if you happen to do well he’ll become your new best friend and heap praise upon your every move. The one-liners that he constantly hits you with are actually a little bit witty, and they won’t become annoying after the first 2 or 3 repeats like so many before them have. He’s joined by the actual boarders who will also share their thoughts on your game playing skills, they all gel together to make a very nice spoken word package. There’s also some pretty good sound effects in there, sickening crunches, the sounds of an inanimate object sliding on snow, it’s what everyone expects from a game such as this.

Overall, the sound category hits some nice middle ground, the effects manage to pick up all the debris that was the background music crashing into a mountain. The two groups cancel each other out nicely to make a sound scheme that is far from memorable, but should be considered by most to be passable. It can never compete with the CD collection of a gamer, but it’s there should local hoodlums steal all but your Vanilla Ice CD’s.

The gameplay is where SSX begins to hit laborious territories. All the flashy graphics in the world can’t save you when your actual game turns out to be so mundane! Of course it uses the standard snowboarding venture, slide down a mountain and do some pretty tricks if you like, there’s nothing wrong with this concept, it’s just that it’s so easy to get sick of it very quickly. There are a few nice innovations that have been thrown in here and there to make it a touch above most of the competition, but it just always seems like there’s something missing.

The gameplay is formed by two major modes, both of which can be found in all the single and multiplayer sections. You can choose them in the World Circuit arena or the more relaxed Single Event selection. The first of these two modes is an all out race, five other competitors are striving for glory and it’s up to you to completely ruin their hopes and dreams for good. Each of the tracks will send you through a tiring process involving three races, finishing in the top three will automatically send you through to the next round until you make the final, where the placings determine which medal you receive. There are certainly some problems because of the qualifiers, the main ones being difficulty and time consumption. The finals always seem to be a big step up in difficulty from the preliminary races, it’s not uncommon for someone to finish first, first and sixth and this will automatically bring the SECOND complaint into play. These tracks are very long, some of them taking five minutes or more to complete, and if a person spends fifteen minutes racing before losing the final and then finds they’ll have to go through the earlier rounds again, it can be very frustrating for them!

The other mode brings more entertainment into the fray. It’s a “Showoff” mode, in which your objective is to score as many points as is humanly possible on your way down the track. Unfortunately this mode does not have an enormous lifespan, and will soon prove to be a mode that is only delved into when there is no alternative course of action for the player to take. The Showoff and Race modes are what make the game, and the game that they’ve made isn’t as enticing as one would have first thought!

To give the player some sort of motive for persisting with SSX, everything and anything other than the bare minimum of tracks has been locked down. Only by racing and winning will the more exciting sections of the game become available to you, bonus characters, costumes and boards will all require some sort of special feat or achievement before they are unlocked and it can all become very mundane. It won’t be long before your purpose for playing the game shifts away from enjoyment and becomes unlocking everything. When a person has an aim such as this, it’s guaranteed the game isn’t going to leave any positive lasting impressions on them!

One aspect of SSX that does require praise is the design of the tracks, they go a long way in making the game bearable (but only just). For the most part they are imaginative, and the first run throughs will be close to exhilarating. If the novelty of these courses didn’t wear off then the game could be far more appealing, but they will prove to be only a minor distraction from what a tiresome game SSX can really be.

Overall, the gameplay shown here is nothing special in the least. It might provide more entertainment than the rest of the snowboarding games out there, but it really doesn’t say much for the genre as a whole I’m afraid. There’s not enough substance in there to make SSX a more pleasing game, you’ll find yourself getting sick of it a lot earlier than you really should. It’s once again showing that flashy graphics don’t mean squat when the game will put you to sleep and make you breakfast the next morning.

Not very long at all, the more persistent of you may tough it out to the end and max out all of the characters and unlock all of the costumes and tracks and stuff. But what’s the point of it all? Why bother going through hardships just to see Mac wear something in plaid? Most people will become pretty good players on most of the tracks and find themselves suddenly sick of the game; it’s really a pity.

For those that are into snowboarding and the associated games, the fun factor will generally be high. Even those that don’t enjoy the hobby may find the game entertaining for a start, however it will soon wear off and become the same old tired concept. The pace of SSX may be considered fast, but it’s hardly thrilling. By the end you’ll find that the game is as much fun as breaking your kneecap after tripping over a midget garden gnome.

Once you get used to the controls in the game and cope with the style of it, there won’t be anything too tricky. You can compete in some harder races in the single event mode, but the best challenges are the ones you give yourself and I don’t know many people who can be bothered actually doing that. Some of the tricks in your “Trick Book” will be tough, but a lot of people won’t even bother with that because it is stupid. Yes that’s right, stupid. So anyway, the challenge of the whole game is mid-range, perhaps not quite hard enough.

Snowboard Supercross is a game that promised little, but many people found themselves enjoying it despite the lack of hype. I don’t know why, maybe the game used magic powers and tricked people into liking it, for SSX is a very average game. It might provide some short-term thrills, but anything over a month is completely out of the question. If you really want a snowboarding game then this is the one for you, but there are definitely other PS2 titles out there which should pique your interest more than this one could ever hope to! SSX? It’s more along the lines of S-U-X!

*I know that wasn’t funny.
- Explosive audio/video components!
- It is actually a very good game to rent, just don’t buy it
- For those of us in Australia or other snowless places, it’s a world we’ve only dreamed of

- Very bad long-term appeal, BAD!
- There is just no depth in the gameplay
- Say the name quickly and it can sound like you’re suggesting something risque.....
SOUND – 9/10
OVERALL – 5/10

kingbroccoli's avatar
Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)

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