SSX 3 is a ton of fun. Shred the slopes!
SSX was a big surprise when it came out on the PS2 in 2000. It blended great graphics, from the then brand new PS2, a ton of style, and a fun factor that was jacked up as high as it could go. SSX Tricky didn't mess with success; it was a true sequal in every way. It played the same, but added enough new stuff to justify spending another $50. SSX 3, however, takes the series in a new direction and introduces the idea of taking on the slopes in a more realistic manner.
The first games involved a set of really cool and totally unbelievable levels. You would work through a giant pinball slope, an urban area, etc. SSX3, in contrast, works more like a real ski resort. There are three mountains, each with a set of lifts that take you to different parts of the hill. You'll ski down the mountain, looking for challengers and events. As you progress, you can ride higher and higher lifts, and compete in more events. This works very well, as you can take any pace that you want. If you want to race, you can. If you want to run around doing tricks for awhile, you can. This free-form style works very well. While moving down the hill, you won't run into any load times either. Load times are taken care of when you're on the lift heading up, or at the starting gate of an event.
The rest of the game works very similar to the other SSX games. Once you get into an event, you'll speed, grind, bump, and do crazy tricks down the hill. SSX's gameplay has always been stellar, and SSX 3 is no different. You have a whole host of insane tricks at your disposal. Once you fill your turbo meter, you'll be able to do the ultra-crazy "uber tricks." The biggest addition to your arsenal of moves is the handplant. When running along a grind area, you can plant on it for some trick points. This is also handy for getting up on the grind rail when you want to go a different way on the track.
SSX 3 looks as great as the other entries in the series as well. It's quite impressive that there isn't any loading time when running down the hill. This allows you to play for a long time in one session. The characters still look like your set of misfit snowboarders, and each has their own look. The snow looks great and surprisingly realistic.
My biggest complaint with SSX 3 is Xbox-specific. You can clearly tell that SSX's controls were built with the PS2 Dual-Shock controller in mind. The button mapping for mid-air tricks is unintuitive on the Xbox controller, and there are times where I've blown jumps because the buttons weren't obvious. Also, the PS2 version has online support, making this a rare case where the PS2 version of a game is better than the Xbox.