calidreth's SSX 3 (GameCube) review

As far as snowboarding games go, little can catch this one.

When it comes to snow-boarding, this particular reviewer definitely isn’t one to call on for tips and tricks. Vaguely can I recall the event that took place atop a snowy peak a few hours from my hometown. I can also remember some overconfidence, a concealed tree root, and a sprained wrist. What one can sum up from this assembly of mishaps is a sense of unwanted realism. An attribute that we try to avoid when playing anything belonging to the extreme sports genre. Being able to defy gravity, exceed speeds of 60 MPH, and pull off a 1080 all while playing your board like a guitar, is definitely something we’d enjoy dreaming about. SSX 3 continues EA Sports’ excellent arcade oriented series, adding plenty of new features, all the while keeping the premise surprisingly simple.

Those familiar with the Tony Hawk series, have seen just why it isn’t a good idea to delve into trivial gimmicks. One could even say that forming a partnership between a game and a television show is an immediate cause for dismissal. If it can be done correctly then it would definitely be something worth checking out, however that is almost never the case. What the SSX series has done and done well is that it has stayed true to the sports’ roots, all the while maintaining the near flawless execution. With a couple pushes of the shoulder buttons you can pull off flips and turns, all in the aspiration of attaining that first place score. Doing so will net you quite a profit and open the door to better attributes, gear, and trails. The role-playing perspective is what sets this one apart and gives you an incentive to progress. Isn’t that the reason we even play games?

Pick a character from the skillful, but lazy Mac to the disturbingly bad-ass Psymon, and take off to the first peak. There you can take on a variety of events including point runs, races, or just a free ride down the mountain. As you take the high place seats in primary events, you can unlock additional challenges and the far more difficult stages, plump full of hazardous terrain and clearing requirements. Each rider has a preassigned rival which will challenge him or her to a variety of contests and boy can they can get on your nerves. Shove the trash talk back in their face by dominating the ten minute point trial or leaving them behind in a one on one speed run. Ah, nothing like finishing up a race by leaping from a ten story high cliff edge, and pulling off so many moves the game can’t even give it a proper name.

“???” for the win.

A plethora of items and power-ups are strewn throughout each zone and help encompass the title’s arcade side. Lightning bolts that dramatically increase your acceleration; trickster emblems that improve your performance speed ten fold; or the traditional multiplier insignias that can help you chain your bonus total exponentially. Each are scattered conveniently throughout the area, accessible from ramp jumps to rail grinds alike. As you stay on your feet and keep up the pace, you continue to add letters to the side of your screen, until they affectionately spell out:

"SUPER UBER!"

Suddenly the music picks up the pace and your score steadily climbs with each flip, turn, spin, and landing. With the numerous displays of manliness, the money begins to come in, and with the additional character customization, you can perform tricks with unbelievable precision and awesomeness.

That is why I play SSX 3. The infectious addiction that surfaces is from that ever-present nature for improvement. The fusion of realistic environments with the mind-set of going beyond the norm help provide the reason to play these types of games over and over again. The addition of a multi-player mode continues the time sink, with plenty of half-pipes and eye-catching drops to go around. Coinciding with the fluid game-play is an impressive soundtrack that plays upbeat tracks across several genres, even a few from some known bands. The DJ can get a little obnoxious after a while, but you can always silence him with the push of a button. All in all, these features are what helped make the Tony Hawk series so much fun to play and it is what provides the foundation for the tried and true formula of success.

I could go on and on about every relevant detail, but I’ll try not to sound like too much of a nerd here. Corny voice samples and some irritating button placements aside, this is by far the best board-based series out today. There is plenty to take in and the title provides enough replay value to keep you coming back, time and again. And while there is an astute lack of rocket launchers, guest stars, or gas-powered unicycles, those of you itching for a dash of zaniness will still have something to find here. It is the attention to what makes the titles of this genre so great, that will hopefully keep the quality around for quite some time. I mean we have all come to expect consistent quality from EA haven’t we?

“...”

1 Comments
Posted by coonce

Well balanced and fair. I really enjoyed reading this review.

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