Saturday, May 26, 2012

SSX (2011) X360

SSX: Deadly Descent!

Ok, they renamed it SSX (2011)

I would like to start this blog off with a game that has been one of the best times I have had playing a video game for a long time;.SSX is an incredibly fun game, however there are some noticeable flaws.

Below you will find a short list of pro/cons about this game, followed by a full review of all it's features.

Exceptional, and I mean "Exceptional" Online Multi-Player
Customizable Music Playlists, that get remixed in-game.
Most realistic mountains in a game. Ever.
Over-the-top, high-speed, gameplay.

No 2-player mode.
Poor avalanche event camera.
Even in online mode you are alone.
Short single player mode.
No 3D support

It's not often that I will call a game with no local play a good game. Let alone a great game. Add to this the fact that the single player isn't more than 10 hours long, and you would expect this game to fail miserably.

However, despite it's few issues (that I feel stand out like a sore thumb) this is a game that I have been hard pressed to turn off at night. I find myself wanting to play just one more race... one more tricky event... one more cycle of survival mode... It doesn't matter, they are all just as addictive.

The special thing about SSX, and really the core of the whole experience, is it's exceptional online mode.

Now let me stress that I am not an online multi-player kind of person. I don't own COD or Halo,  and the only Live friends I had before this game were people I knew in real life, and they don't play the games I play.

But that's the thing that makes SSX so special. I have never made friends on Xbox Live. Now I have a growing friends list, of which I can't wait until they are online again.

This is surprising because you actually don't speak, or even ever see any other players in the game. When you are racing online, you are racing a character with their gamer-tag on top, but it is just a "ghost" or "replay data" for the laymen.

Not to say that this detracts from the experience, in fact it's hardly noticeable except for the fact that you don't have anyone speaking to you in the game on their headsets. (Something many people will see as a great plus) I find it a little disappointing that I can't trash talk anyone as I pass them up on the races, or land an absurd combo that slides me up 3 slots in trick mode.

None the less, it is a blast racing their replays. There is a great feeling of going head to head with someones character down a mountain. So much so that you will want to add them to your "Rivals" list.

The Rivals list is an in-game friends list. This system tracks what times, scores, and in the case of Survival matches, their distance. It works great, as you spin the virtual earth in look of your next drop you will see pop-up messages (that are much less obtrusive than the X360's notifications). These will inform you if/when one of your friends, or "rivals" has smashed one of your scores/times/distances. It even gives you the option to jump immediately to that level so you can try to reclaim your stolen glory.

Now, with all the multi-player greatness that this game offers it saddens me to once again have to say; "This game has no 2-player"

Once again we are subjected to a game that has thrown off the very part of gaming that brought so many people together in the 90s. The lack of a 2 player mode is a major disappointment, not just for gaming as a whole, but simply because I wanted to sit down with my kid brother and hit the powder.

Which brings me to the single-player mode. Excellently crafted, this "World-Tour" will take you across the planet to the 9 "Deadly Descents". This is by far the most fleshed out story mode for SSX I have seen. As a reboot of the franchise, the SSX "team" has gotten together to beat their ex-member Griff in a race to conquer the planet. (Figuratively speaking of course.)

Essentially you do 3-4 races of each type (Race, Trick, & Survive) On each mountain. Which is about 3 mountains per 9 mountain ranges. Obviously you can see how quickly the different types of races can add up. Especially when you consider that you can switch the type of race for almost any track.

The movies are well made with good animations, and the voice actors of the heli-pilots deserve extra gold stars for their performance. As an awesome bonus, whenever you unlock a new character you are treated to a beautiful (yet short) Motion comic that briefly explains their connection to the SSX team.

Some of their camera choices IN game however, are questionable as well. Specifically, the Avalanche camera. This flips the camera to a helicopter view as you ride down the mountain, trying to outrun an avalanche.

I give them credit for a camera that adds suspense to the avalanche levels (of which their are only a few) However, the lack of an option to use the normal camera which works perfectly in every other level means that you are forced to play these great levels in a way that really kills the fun. You can't see where you are going, and because it is so zoomed out it becomes near impossible to figure out how to land your combos. (Which build your boost so you can outrun the avalanche)

In my opinion, an option to switch that or do the camera they used in a PIP box would have been a much better decision, both visually, and playwise.

Now, one of the features I enjoyed most was the ability to make custom playlists.
Usually to play your own music, you have to open the xbox guide and make it over-ride the game's music.
This was an awesome feature from day one, but some of you may remember how XBOX games (Such as True Crime: LA) would allow you to set music that would be used instead of the games soundtrack.

The ability to set, from my own library, what music would play in a race, or trick, or survive, or even the menus was just awesome. Add to this, that the interactive remix they use in their soundtrack is applied to your music.

This particular feature will drop music out when you take big air, and remix/repeat if you grind. It really ads flavor to the game, and a little to your music as well. I wish every game had a feature just like this.

EA is making great progress with some new and fresh ideas in multi-player. However, I hope they stop charging gamers who buy used copies 10$ to get full online access. In addition, the DLC for the character Eddie is already on the disc, buying this (or getting the pre-order bonus like myself) simply unlocks access. I have not yet played the Mt. Eddie DLC however, and cannot comment on it as of now.

Another strong point that hurt was that they didn't even bother to add artwork to the manual. As an individual that really appreciates box-art, it is sad to open a case and only see the Seizure Warning.

My last, and final comment about this game is one I have addressed with many games lately.
This game does not support 3D, and this is in reality a detriment, because this game would have benefited amazingly. From the snow dashing upwards when you land your board, to the insane drops you take on during your survival runs and the helicopters flying around as you dash down the mountain.

Here's hoping they release an upgrade this summer.

None the less, despite it's few shining flaws, I found SSX to be completely worth the price when I picked it up on launch. I recommend playing this to all my friends, and you should too.


Final Score - 8.5 out of 10

"Worth Every Penny"

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