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Can a sports game be fanciful like an RPG? Yes, my friends, yes.

HarryIt's difficult to label a game like SSX. Ok, officially we are speaking of a snowboarding game, but this would say nothing of SSX. This is a game that goes over the sporting simulation and creates a completely innovative gaming experience. An incredibly fast-paced rhythm, extraordinary controls, tracks worthy of a fantasy RPG, the possibility to use different fabulous boards, a series of shortcuts and secrets, hidden costumes for your character: all this, and much more is SSX. This game is the first release of the new EA Sports Big series; and if all the others titles of this series will be “BIG” like SSX, I take my hat off to EA.

Gameplay : 9.5

Everything in SSX escapes normality and realism. The races, the characters, the evolutions that you can perform on the board are extraordinary. The developers, leaving aside the desire of simulation, have realized a game able to return part of the emotions of an extreme sport. And you know, you can’t wake up a morning saying yourself “hmmm, today I’d really like to buy a snowboard and perform many deadly tricks”. That simply won’t work. SSX is a nice game to have “extreme” sensations staying in front of your Tv.

The very first time you play this game you are able to choose only four of the eight playable characters. You’ll have to win more than once the gold medal in the World Circuit Mode in order to unlock the hidden ones. Each of these crazy guys is perfectly characterized and has a set of fifty different tricks, a number worthy of fighting games like Tekken Tag Tournament. They all have four different costumes, that anyhow you have to earn performing a series of movements marked with a special sign on the game manual. The most important things is that each of these athletes has his/her own strengths and his/her own weaknesses: speed, stability, edging and tricks are the stats you can take a look at to choose the characters that better fit your needs. What is extraordinary in SSX is that your choice will concretely affect the way you’ll have to perform in the several tracks. Don’t think this is one of these sports games full of useless, stupid stats. In SSX there is an attention to these details worthy of an RPG.

The tracks are the greatest surprise of this Electronic Art’s game. Forget snow-clad slopes and pleasant mountains as a background to your competitions because these are only a very little part of the show. There are eight tracks, and all are projected and realized with a great creativeness. Every track is completely foolish and always amusing. For instance, in Mercury City Meltdown, you will have to race through the streets of a city, that are completely covered with snow; you will pass through skyscrapers and underground shortcuts, you will have to jump from a car to another and dart in the damp aqueduct of the city. In Tokyo Megaplex, you will find yourself in a sort of enormous pinball machine; if you want to perform spectacular tricks, you’ll have to carefully exploit all the elements you’ll meet during your race, trying to avoid the deadly dangers scattered everywhere along the track. Or what about a wonderful race on a melting iceberg berthed to a tropical island? If you like the idea, Aloha Ice Jam is the track you’re looking for.

It’s really difficult to explain by words what this game looks like. To really understand why all are amazed by SSX you should at least give this EA’s title a rent and look with your own eyes. The tracks are completely different from the ones featured in other snowboarding games. They are full of shortcuts and special paths that you’ll have to learn if you want to avoid dangerous obstacles. You’ll need hours to figure out all the secret of a single track; this game will simply keep your eyes glued to your TV.

Let’s speak about gameplay modes and controls in SSX. There are two main modes: Single Event and World Circuit. In the first one you must face single competitions, while in the World Circuit Mode you have to face a series of races through a season. Among the various options of the Single Event mode you can choose to take a Free Ride. In this mode you won’t be able and you won’t have to win any medal. This option is definitely the one you need to improve your skills and to try new tracks, discovering shortcuts before you go into a real race. Besides the last track you’ll unlock in the game can be played only in this mode. This is called Untracked and it substantially consists in a snowy mountain without any previously signed footstep. Here you can do every sort of trick, just for your fun.
The World Circuit Mode is the true core of the game. As you progress through this mode your reckless heroes’ skills will improve and you’ll be able to unlock new characters and new, marvellous boards. There are two different way to play each race in this mode.
In the ShowOff Mode you will have to perform the highest number of tricks and grabs with your board. In order to win a gold medal, you need to be skilled enough to perform a big part of your characters’ tricks and you have to pick up the various bonuses along the track. In the Race Mode you have to concentrate on your speed while still performing tricks. In fact, with a genial idea, the developer have inserted a bar showing the level of adrenaline in your athlete. Then, a boost system will allow you to use the accumulated adrenaline of your character in order to reach an incredible speed. If you consider that you have to perform a big number of trick trying at the same time to find the best shortcuts for your character and to avoid deadly dangers, you can imagine the fast-paced rhythm of this game. Nevertheless, this rhythm can be sustained by the player thanks to perfect controls. The left stick is used for fundamental characters’ movements, while using the right stick you can strike your adversaries during the race. The Digital pad can be used to replace the left stick, while the triangle and the circle buttons allow the player to change the camera angle. All the remaining buttons are used to perform tricks, grabs and all the rest. Holding the X button you’ll be able to preload your jumps. The more you’ll hold this button, the higher will be your jump. In this way you can perform a chain of tricks which will make you earn extra points. In the game is obviously featured an exciting two player mode. It’s simply great to play this game together with a friend, especially if you are the most skilled.

Overall, SSX’s gameplay is perfect. The modes are all thrilling, the tracks are surely the greatest you have ever seen in a snowboarding game, the controls are absolutely easy to learn: all this make SSX an incredible game. The only defect of this game is probably the small number of playable characters.

» Page 2: Graphics, Sound, Replay Value, and Overall Opinion

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EA Canada
Dual Shock 2
8MB Memory Card
Release Date
North America
October 30th, 2000
October 26th, 2000
November 24th, 2000

Wonderfully detailed polygonal models.

That looks dangerous.

A great, great, great graphic engine.
More screenshots of SSX

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