The Great Return of White Madness - SSX Game Review

Author: ElMundo
Date: 2012-03-13 09:43:00
The review was based on the X360 version. Also applies to the PS3 version

Although there are no signs of the recent very cold winter outside the windows, and we can watch the snow-covered mountain slopes only on TV screens, fans of white madness on a snowboard can still pursue their untamed dreams, at least in virtual reality. Forget about the boring and not too spectacular Shaun White Snowboarding - the new installment of the extremely popular SSX series a few years ago is a crazy arcade game in which the impossible simply does not exist. The EA Sports team has once again shown that they know how few people know about creating extraordinary sports games.

It would seem that creating an extremely addictive and effective game with a snowboard in the lead role is an extremely risky task. Nothing could be more wrong - the concept of a totally crazy game with a lot of almost unreal evolutions and ubiquitous dynamism has not aged a bit, what's more - enriched with completely new elements works better than most players interested in this production imagine. Few bet on the new SSX before the premiere, meanwhile we are dealing, as I am convinced of, with one of the favorites to be called the sports game of the year.

SSX takes us to the most inaccessible and mysterious regions of the world together with a group of several daredevils who have made it their point of honor to conquer the most difficult corners of the globe. More snowboarders appear as they progress in the main game mode, i.e. World Tour , and we get to know them thanks to very nicely made, animated comics, revealing their characters and motives. The game itself looks like a tourist folder from the "most beautiful, dangerous, inaccessible" category. The creators, thanks to the use of a proprietary system, based on NASA measurements and data and photographs, mapped the highest peaks in the world - so there is no lack of crazy driving on the slope of Mount Everest, fighting for survival on Mount Vinson or avoiding the rocky attractions of Mont Blanc. And this is just the beginning of the fun - the helicopter from which we start our next journeys will take us to virtually every continent of our globe.

Each new location that we discover while playing in the main module offers several professions with different characteristics. Of course, the most popular are races that we play both as a duel with three other players and in direct clash with one of the opponents. Equally often we take part in rides where our task is to score as many points as possible for tricks performed on the route. The core of the game, however, are the so-called Deadly Descents, i.e. special challenges that require a bit more skills. They are related to specific conditions in a given location. Hitting the frosty expanses of Antarctica, we have to face the problem of very low temperatures - solar panels built into the suit help to maintain the appropriate body temperature, using each sunlit layer of snow in a shaded valley. In Patagonia, on the other hand, we face huge gaps that appear along the route - thanks to a special suit ... we fly over huge gaps, using the wind force. These are, of course, just two examples - there are nine such challenges in total and each of them is characterized by a much higher level of difficulty than the other professions.

So much theory, so it's time to hit the road. The SSX is enchanting from the very first descent - while skiing on the snowy and well-designed slopes, we feel as if we were sailing on white powder, diversifying this pleasure every now and then with short forays into the air. The creators brilliantly managed to convey the impression of incredible speed and constant competition - every decision must be made in a split second, and of course our rivals are waiting for our mistake. I must admit that computer opponents are quite intelligent beasts. While in classic races, with a fairly clean ride, they do not impose excessive conditions, the fight for spectacular acrobatics is a really big challenge.

Performing tricks is a real salt of this game - the way of combing them turns out to be very intuitive and depends only on our imagination. The evolution system in SSX promotes both ingenuity and regularity of aerial madness. Each subsequent one opens the way to an exceptionally long combos - after exceeding a given level, we unlock the Tricky module, and then the Super Tricky module, which of course allows you to perform even more breakneck and inhuman acrobatics, at which the hair really stands on its head. Interestingly, doing tricks also allows you to win races more easily - everyone is rewarded with an appropriate load of a special boost, thanks to which we can even distance our rivals in the trim. And finally, the most important thing - while flying majestically down the huge valley and performing sky-high wonders, we really feel that we are not jumping off the ramp on the slope in Górki Małe, but are taking part in a crazy ride down the largest peaks in the world. And that's what we expected.

Another applause is due to the creators for the well-designed routes. Virtually all of them require constant concentration and a lot of reflex - at every step there are treacherous gaps, buildings or trees, which can quickly break the rhythm. Fortunately, the creators also thought about a special option to rewind events, so we can undo our actions and quickly fix the bug. However, nothing for free - when performing such a maneuver, time moves forward and rivals can quickly make up for any loss. There is also absolutely no shortage of places where we can perform spectacular stunts - while driving, we come across a whole lot of ramps, gutters and handrails, which often allow you to create endless combinations during a single session. Of course, the great visual setting has a significant impact on our gameplay experience - the locations have been developed with great attention to detail, adding various blur or grain effects, which further intensify the already huge dynamics of the game . There is also no bad word about the quality of the animation - the characters behave well both on snowy ground and in the air during complex acrobatics. However, sometimes it happens that our snowboarder sticks into the ice sheet or drowns in a snowdrift, although such pictures are rare - the gameplay is smooth, regardless of the size of the views we admire. The image of the whole is completed with gains that perfectly match the atmosphere of fun . The set includes both fast, electronic pieces, a bit of hip-hop, as well as slightly calmer, slower songs. I guarantee that you will repeat the lyrics of It's Tricky Run-DMC, accompanying the creation of the most complex evolutions, with each new explosive acrobatics.

Fortunately, after completing the main game module - World Tour - a lot of great fun awaits us. The most important of the additional modes - Explore - allows you to reach all the peaks again with the best possible times. In addition, there are various minor challenges regarding our results, timing or performing particular tricks for which we will receive medals. Another stimulus for competition is the RiderNet network system, thanks to which it is possible to compare our results with the achievements of friends or the best players, and then beat them during the fight with a shadow representing them. From time to time, we also get Global Events, i.e. special challenges, meeting which is rewarded with an additional reserve of currency that can be exchanged for new equipment and improvements. Another possibility of playing through the network is placing special markers on a given route, the so-called GeoTags. Our head is to put them in hard-to-reach places - the longer they remain unattained by other players, the more virtual currency will fall into our pocket. However, nothing can replace direct competition with other users while driving, and unfortunately this is not the case. It's a pity, because the lack of such a fundamental fun option casts a shadow over the entire online mode.

Spending the next few hours playing SSX and looking out the window at the same time, I regret more and more that March is already here and we will have to wait a few months for the next installment of white madness. The production of EA Sports is a snow monster of gameplay - we cover the next routes with the impetus of avalanches, and the aerial evolutions even encourage us to book a ticket for the next flight to some alpine resort. The bull's eye is the special challenges that significantly diversify the gameplay and introduce an element of surprise. The creators should also be praised for a good selection of locations and their excellent reproduction in the game. It is a pity that they did not focus on direct competition in multiplayer mode and did not avoid minimal technical errors. However, this is really just a small snowball with a whole lot of excellent solutions that make the new SSX one of the best winter sports games in history and a production that will satisfy not only fans of this discipline. The great return of the recognized series has become a fact.