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SSX



 
General Description

SSX is a snowboarding game developed by EA Canada and released for Xbox 360 and PS3 in February. Players control a member of the SSX team, a group of extreme snowboarders that race at ridiculous speeds and perform outlandish tricks on tracks based on mountain ranges found all over the world.

 

There are two main types of stages; races and trick competitions. Players can freely browse the globe to select from dozens of mountains, each with its own set of courses and gold medals to earn. There is also a campaign mode that has players control the different members of SSX as each is assigned a specific peak to conquer. Each major peak contains a course with a specific environmental threat which requires players to use specific equipment (headlamps, wing suits, etc) to survive.

 

A huge range of multiplayer options allows players to upload the ghosts of their best runs and race against their friends’ ghosts on any course. Players can also pay entry fees to enter live tournaments that challenge them to set the best scores they can in a single run.

 

Developer creativity is one of the game’s greatest strengths. While it’s simply a snowboarding game on paper, it eschews any realism for an over-the-top style and adds a wealth of truly innovative online multiplayer features. Player creativity, problem solving and even business skills are also strengths.

 
Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C- C
Ratings at a Glance
 
Facts: 1 Title: SSX
Creativity: 7 Publisher: EA Sports
Business: 4 Developer: EA Canada
People: 1 Year: 2012
Problem: 5 Genre: Sports
Simulation: 2 Strengths: creativity, popularity, problem
Popularity: 8 Platforms: PlayStation 3
Xbox 360
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts

 

Players begin SSX by choosing a mountain range from an in-game globe. Nine ranges are available, from the Rockies in the western United States to the Himalayas in China, and after selecting a range players choose from the handful of real-world mountains in each. It’s hard to believe that the courses on each mountain would be even vaguely possible in the real world, but selecting ranges from the globe does give players a sense of the geographical locations. Monologues before each range in the campaign mode give some details on the conditions in each area.

 

Creativity & Imagination

 

By the Player:

 

Every course is filled with plenty of options. Many feature blatantly branching paths, but even in more linear courses there are always rails to grind and jumps to choose between that will all influence the resulting run. The focus of the game is to perform as well as possible - finishing quickly in races and doing as many tricks as possible in trick competitions - and at a high level this involves learning the intricacies of each stage. Players could experiment for hours on any one of the game’s dozens of mountains, even studying their friends’ ghosts to improve their own performances. Hiding Geotags on the mountains offers another way to play around, and hiding tags more creatively will eventually lead to greater payouts.

 

Players also have some room to customize their characters, though generally this comes down to choosing the pieces of equipment with the best stats. There is occasionally some room for debate, though, and players are welcome to choose boards and suits based on their aesthetic values instead.

 

By the Developer:

The most obvious improvement in this new SSX is that there is more of everything. There are dozens of mountains, each filled with crazy new stages. The new survival courses are the biggest mechanical addition; the high scores here are earned by surviving as long as possible. They are a considerable departure from the standard race and trick runs, but usually an enjoyable one, especially as the game’s basic mechanics and sense of speed are stronger than ever.

 

SSX also contains some significant online innovations. The eccentric collection of multiplayer ideas - money-generating Geotags scattered about the courses, constant worldwide tournaments, and a focus on high-score ghosts over real-time multiplayer - are sure to be spotted in more games down the line.  There is also a fun paced soundtrack to listen to and players can use “Harmony” to remix any song while playing. 

 

Business Skills

 

Players collect credits, which are used to unlock various courses, purchase new pieces of equipment and enter tournaments. There are dozens of pieces of equipment to choose from, and they are randomly generated before each course, which encourages players to constantly pick up better items as they become available.

 

The most basic way for players to earn credits is by completing races, which rewards players based on their performances. Colorful snowflakes are hidden throughout each range, and they offer bonus credits. The spherical Geotags work in the same way, except they are placed by other players. They can be purchased before a race, and they reward the player who hides them with credits based on how long they manage to stay hidden.


Players also earn credits for competing with their friends. Beating a friend’s ghost awards credits based on how long the ghost has gone unchallenged, and players earn credits while the game is off if their ghosts stand up to their friends’ challenges.

 

The most efficient way to earn credits is eventually to enter tournaments. These often have high entry fees that prevent new players from entering, but eventually the payouts they offer become the best way to make money by far. Players have a limited time frame to make the best run they can, and then are sorted into payout brackets based on the performances of other competitors.

 

People Skills

 

Multiplayer is a major element of the game, but is handled in a number of unusual ways. Players never race head-to-head; instead, ghosts of every player’s best runs on every course in the game are uploaded, and any of that player’s friends will see that ghost as they play. A constantly-updating news feed alerts players any time a friend breaks one of their records, and icons of a player’s biggest rival in each mountain range loom over the globe. Players can also hide Geotags on any course, which earn money if they go uncollected and offer a cash reward to players who uncover them.

 

Problem Solving

 

SSX is about speed when it gets going, and players will have to make rapid decisions all the way down any given mountain. On a small level players need to make sure they don’t fall, and any given thumbstick-twitch can send a boarder smoothly over a jump or crashing into a tree. While making these millisecond-decisions players will also likely have an overall plan in mind, a way to maneuver the course to hit all the best jumps (in a trick run) or get to the bottom as quickly as possible (in a race). Players need to multitask, pathfinding on two different levels at once, especially when they’re on a course they’re unfamiliar with. This is true of any racing game, but SSX’s open tracks put extra emphasis on it.

 

The other area that problem solving comes into play is with equipment, though it mostly boils down to buying an item that has better stats when it pops up and then forgetting about it for awhile. Some equipment will be better on certain types of races or on certain courses, and some of those choices can be extremely important, but usually it’s pretty easy to figure out the best way to approach any situation.

 

Simulation

 

SSX is a highly unrealistic snowboarding game, though many basic ideas about physics can be found. The survival runs are interesting as they require players to select equipment that a snowboarder might actually need to pack in order to survive (oxygen tanks allow characters to breath on high-altitude tracks, for example). These are offset somewhat by more outlandish pieces of equipment - flight-enabling wingsuits, for example - and the fact that the courses found in the game would be nothing short of ludicrous to any real-world athlete.

 

Popularity

 

SSX has received mostly positive reviews. Critics praised the game’s basic mechanics, wealth of courses and innovative multiplayer features. The part of the game that focuses on purchasing dozens of pieces of equipment was criticized by some publications, alongside an occasionally jagged difficulty curve.

 

Controls & Options

 

Players can choose to play with a different control scheme based on that of previous games in the series. Other standard audio and visual options are available. Players can create their own music playlists on their consoles or networked computers and stream them to SSX, which shuffles and remixes the tracks during play.

 

Tips

 

SSX was rated Everyone by the ESRB with descriptors for Mild Lyrics and Mild Violence.