SSX – PS3/360
SSX is an incredibly special series for me, and the impact that it had on my life is unquestionable. It helped shape the way I dressed, the music I listened to, and is the reason I travel a reasonable distance and pay a lot of money to learn to snowboard for real. Apart from possibly Metal Gear Solid 2 or Gitaroo Man, SSX 3 was the PS2 game that I poured the most hours into on that console.
This should be more than enough to explain why this game is in my top 5 this year. From the moment the demo appeared, I was as hooked as I ever had been, and instantly felt comfortable again. It is still an incredibly tight snowboarding experience, with a second to none control system that straddles the line beautifully between being easy to pick up and look good, while requiring just enough work and practice to really start to hit the high scores.
RiderNet was the most important addition to SSX, and totally changed how the game is approached in terms of competition. It constantly informs you of the performance of everyone else on your friends list, pulling their race times, trick scores and their ghost data into your game. At the end of each run, the game is evil enough to tell you “Hey, great job on that last event, but JimBob27 just trounced your score on this other mountain, you want to go see if you can beat it?”. If the PS3 had a “fuck yes!” button on the controller, it would have been worn down to bare silicon by this point. The addition of a random coloured loot shop and an XP system, there are so many reasons to keep ploughing away at the shockingly large number of mountains and runs that ship with the game.
The fact there is no split screen was a bit of a disappointment concerning the amount of SSX Tricky I played with a friend back home, but it’s a feature I would probably have used probably about twice this year. The bigger problem was the lack of any non-asymmetric multiplayer, so there was no way for you and JimBob27 to carve the slopes at the same time. This was solved with a patch later on in the year which introduced the bizarrely named “3-2-1-GO” mode, which lets up to 5 people jump out of the same helicopter and feed their hard earned cash into a collective pot that the winners will get to take home. With a few friends I can see this being a great way to spend some time insulting each other.
The newest addition to the series are the “Deadly Descent” runs. These are courses with a specific twist designed to make getting to the bottom as difficult as possible. These range from pitch black caverns requiring a headlamp to navigate, to being chased down the mountain by an ever encroaching avalanche. These are fun little diversions, but are not exactly what I’m looking for in an SSX game.
I feel SSX was slightly unfair to the other releases this year when attempting to woo me. Unless the game was a complete travesty, and totally changed the way it played, it was always going to be a personal favourite. When trying to be as objective as possible, this is an exceptionally well put together snowboarding game. It has just enough of a ridiculous edge to it, with the Deadly Descents and the impossible trick combos, to make it fun without going down the “sim” route. If you are remotely interested in the old games or snowboarding in general, I would check this out.
PS3 – Amazon
X360 – Amazon