By Ben Alford on March 7th, 2012 (7 comments)
Tapping out a string of buttons or twiddling the right stick while doing spins and flips is the basis of SSX, the game reboots the exaggerated snowboarding series. Anything could be done with the buttons, given that one doesn’t repeat, and it will be a success. It refutes the intelligence of adding right analog stick trick controls, being instead the epitome of a Hit Buttons for Cool philosophy. It isn’t enough to be flowing, it has to be exploding. It is a conundrum few have really “solved”: how to properly recognize the subtleties instead and reward that. Though even fewer seem to get that the rewards can be inherent in the joy of doing, rather than a score.
SSX (PlayStation 3 [Version Played], Xbox 360)
Developer: Electronic Arts Canada
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Snowboarding is ripe with this kinesthetic joy. SSX has this at its core, most notably in the “Survive It” mode, where some modifiers, like armor on a rocky slope, make it about a steady transversal. Here the snow has a bite, the ice has a slickness--sensations of feeling--but feeling is lost in the constantly cranked races. The banal boosting dampens the connected feeling in the controls. Narrow corridors and sudden crevasses illuminate this. Rewind seems meant to assuage issues but it lacks a consistency in operation.
“Like taking awesome from a baby,” is something a rider will exclaim in this game. Characters are introduced through motion comics, and none are worth watching. It dawns that maybe the Japanese woman is the most picked because she doesn’t say anything understandable to an English speaker. The peculiarities perpetuate into the largely Brostep soundtrack and remixes. Music can be replaced with great detail though, allowing one to choose playlists for each event type (Race, Trick, Survival) and even the menu music. The playlist personally created contained many songs including Kanye West’s “Power”. “Power” was the first song chosen out of all of them (hopefully by design).
Online is where SSX is designed to live: drops show live scores, asynchronous events where one competes for a global pot, and a player-placed collectible that rewards tough placement. None of the credits earned here count without an online pass though and the economy of the game, the buying of new equipment (which is both randomized and rarified) and paying into online events, is designed around earning online credits. The game then nags, always showing how much money one could have if they just get an online pass.
SSX is just a bit out of focus: good feel gets fuzzy, the spotty personality can be dealt with to a degree, and the composition of online is wonderful yet marred by misaligned business strategies. SSX is a good game but it isn’t without its serious flaws.
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