The SSX series has been called the best snowboarding series ever by a lot of people. The original changed how snowboarding games are from then on. The semi-sequel, SSX Tricky, had mixed reviews. Many loved its improvements and more extreme feel while others hated those exact changes. When a true sequel to the original was announced, it of course got a lot of hype.
With hype usually comes disappointment too, but luckily this is not the case with SSX 3. With it’s improvements in all areas and additions, some major and some minor, It’s definitely one of the most fun games you’ll ever play.
Let’s start with the big gimmick for the game: it’s a GTA-like free roaming snowboarding experience on one huge mountain with three peaks. This is not an overstatement. The mountain is HUGE and you can go from the top to the bottom in one trip. It will take you at least forty minutes to do so too so you’re in for a good ride. I was amazed at just how big the mountain is. There are plenty of individual levels to play depending on the event, (we’ll get to that later) and I didn’t think they would all be there if you decide to ride down the entire mountain. Well, they are and it’s an amazing sight to see.
The game play modes are: Race, Big Air, Super Pipe, Free Ride and Slope style. Race is self explanatory and there is a rival at each peak you must beat (same for Slope style). Big Air has you ride down a track leading up to a huge ramp that launches you about 100 ft in the air. Super Pipe is probably my favorite. You enter a quarter pipe (sometimes 3 back to back) and go back and forth doing tricks. You can easily score in the hundred-thousands here. Free Ride let’s you travel down as far of the mountain as you’ve unlocked. You can find money and objective icons. You must face your rival down the entire peak eventually too.
The modes are: Single Event, Conquer the Mountain, Multiplayer and Online. Single even is like the arcade mode. You can play on any of the courses you’ve unlocked but it doesn’t count towards your career. Conquer the Mountain is the core of the game. Here is where you unlock everything you can. Multiplayer allows two players to go at it via any course unlocked; and it works well at doing that too. Finally, Online let’s you play against another human player?online (duh).
The Online mode is great. It’s only two players (why not six?) but it’s still a blast. The two modes are Quick Match and Lobby. Quick Match picks someone for you and BAM! You’re in a match. Lobby let’s you see players of all skill levels and let’s you pick from there. You can send messages or use the USB headset. It’s a lot like offline with little lag. It provides a lot of fun for when you don’t have another player right next to you. The only downside is that once a match is over, you must go back to the lobby. No restart option is there. It’s a very minor set back though and really doesn’t ruin anything.
There are a wide variety of characters. Six of the original characters, including Mac, Zo?, Moby, Elise, Psymon, and Kaori have returned. Newcomers are Viggo, Nate, Griff, and Allegra. Three of these characters are Bosses, (one to each peak) and you have to beat them to conquer that slope. You can also unlock other characters (like Eddie) but they’re just skins that go over another character. I’d say the character list has at least doubled since Tricky. I haven’t noticed any real difference in game play with altering characters so that may be a fault to you.
Each character can unlock a bounty of stuff. There are dozens of clothing options for nearly all areas of the body, from shirts to shoes to shades. There are plenty of boards to buy as well. You can buy accessories like backpacks and things to hold in your hand as you board (a water gun, anyone?). None of these affect the actual game play so you need to buy stats. You get the money for this buy doing tricks, completing objectives or finding money icons. Just about everything gets you money actually.
The graphics are some of the best I’ve ever seen. The models have been greatly improved since Tricky and they look pretty realistic. The snow you ride on is amazing and the weather affects are a true sight to see. The short movies between modes and level changes aren’t anything to brag about, but they do their part fine enough. There is just a lot more going on at once this time around (as you’ve probably heard) and to see the game at full capacity, like with huge avalanches, is just jaw dropping. It definitely has the best graphics in the genre to say the least.
The sound is the typical stuff you’d hear in every extreme sports game, which isn’t a bad thin). There are many tracks to listen to from a lot of familiar artists like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Queens of the Stone Age. The voice acting isn’t amazing but it’s believable enough. The phrases characters say to one another aren’t as annoying as in Tricky either (some if it is kind of funny to be honest). The sound effects are very suiting and varied. Ea Big has created a very realistic game in the sound department.
The Controls are near perfect if not perfect. The left analog stick controls the player (as does the D-pad) and, a change in the series, the right stick now makes the character do nose and tail taps (like skateboard manuals) and they’re pretty easy to control.
Now let’s talk about the changes with tricks. There are now three levels of Uber Tricks. The first level is acquired by getting your boost bar filled. If you do four Uber tricks (and spell “Uber”), you go to the next level, Super Uber. They are done the same way as regular Uber tricks (S.U. tricks just replace U. tricks) and if you spell “Super”, you go to the final level. To do these, you hold two of the shoulder buttons down instead of one. While riding, you can hit L1 or R1 and hit fellow boarders next to you (this is replacing the right stick which, as mentioned above, serves as a manual type button). You can also do grind Uber tricks now too by just grinding and hitting one of the shoulder buttons. Also new are hand plants that add a lot to the game as well.
This game does have its flaws, though. While the mountain is extremely varied, there is a sense of redundancy as you ride down it. I guess since SSX 3 is a lot more realistic then previous games, some of the trails and such feel a bit alike. This is a minor flaw though seeing as the game has an amazing amount of space to board down. You may think “This looks a bit familiar” a few times though. Along with that come the normal graphics flaws but they are to be expected. Those are all the flaws I’ve noticed though. As I said it’s a near perfect game.
Overall, this game is the definition of what a fun game is. You can easily spend several hours playing before you feel at all tired of it. The amazingly large mountain, its peaks and their levels are some of the best in any extreme sports game. The many modes to play on this mountain are great. The extras, characters, graphics, music, moves… well everything in this game is great. The additions and changes (like the free roaming capability on a huge mountain) make it a completely new feel from previous entries and it’s just a complete blast to play. It simply defines “Must own game”.