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October 27, 2005
SSX On Tour - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
24/10/2005EA SportsEA Canada1-2GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
164KBDolby PLIIYesNoNoneYes

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The course is packed with objects.
November 2000. The Playstation 2 launches in Australia and Europe and one game captures the hearts, and wallets, of millions of gamers. That game was a snowboarding title from Electronic Arts called SSX which demonstrated just how much further games could be taken from those seen during the 32-bit era. Since that first game Electronic Arts have released two improved sequels, SSX Tricky and SSX3 - which is still the equally highest rated game of all time on Future Gamez. With the previous games being so brilliant it was hard to see where Electronic Arts could take the series but yet again the development team has come up with the goods, bringing a fresh approach to the game, as well as a few new tricks.

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Watch out for casual skiers.
If you've played previous SSX titles then you may be shocked at the new interface and vibe in SSX On Tour. Gone are the slick menus and interface and in its place are some funky black and white sketchbook styled animated menus. It's interesting, certainly unique, and gives the whole game a more punk rock feel which is exactly what the developers were after. It's clear that there is a shift from the smooth grooves which dominated previous games in the series. Also gone is the large open mountain interface where you had to travel to each event and in its place is a more tradition map of the mountain with events dotted over it. We have to say that while it's a bit easier find the events the level of interactivity and sense of 'being there' from the previous game is missed. There was nothing like snowboarding up to the shop on the mountain in SSX3, buying some new gear, and then head back out onto the slopes to find another event.

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Performing a combo.
There's still more however with the characters now being able to be customized before hitting the mountain. No longer are you stuck with the snowboarder models of previous games as you can now enter your own name and sex as well as defining what you look like the big addition is to choose to be a snowboarder or skier. While the idea is the same the skiing just feels a little more difficult while the range of tricks is also quite different as you would expect. Speaking of tricks the Uber Tricks from the previous game have been replaced with Monster Tricks which are performed by using the right analogue stick. These Monster Tricks, while looking spectacular, just aren't quite the same as the thrill of the three tiered Uber Tricks from SSX3. Finally as you're heading down the mountain if you manage to hit an obsticle, or another skier you'll wipe out. To get back up you have to hit the square button as quickly as possible, taking your time can see you position in the race drop back remarkably quickly.

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Now that's a slope.
Without a doubt the biggest disappointment we discovered with SSX On Tour is the removal of the online gameplay. It's not that PAL gamers are being screwed over once again by Electronic Arts in this department, but the online modes didn't even make it onto the American version of the game either. We can only hope that Electronic Arts sort out their online modes for all games, not just the SSX series, before the next generation rolls around. All we're left with here in terms of multi-player is a 2-player split screen mode which in today’s gaming market is disappointing.

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Look. Skiing.
We've already mentioned how this game includes new menus and although the sketchbook style isn't really to our liking they are very well done and set the tone of the entire game. Where SSX On Tour really shines (yet again) is the in-game graphics. Electronic Arts keep pushing the boundaries and while the game initially appears very similar to the previous game it's not long before you realise that the mountain is now littered with pedestrian skiers and snowboarders as well as other objects such as buildings, snow ploughs and plenty of trees. Also improved are the spot effects such as fireworks and explosions while the frame rate is absolutely rock steady.

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These guys have attitude.
Audio in the game is predominantly rock based with tracks from artists such as Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Jurassic 5, Queens of the Stone Age, Motorhead and Pennywise to name a few. While it's an impressive soundtrack it's obviously heavily rock based with dance tracks from bands such as Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Felix Da Housecat being relegated to the scrap heap for this title. A shame as that's our preferred genre. Still rock fans will be happy. As well as the music the voicework, and particularly the announcer is always enthusiastic, perhaps too much so in places, and the riders call out as you race down the mountain. What still impresses with this game are the effects. From the whooshing wind to the crunch of a collision, the crashing of trees or the explosion of fireworks it's all simply superb. The one thing that did disappoint was the removal of DTS audio in favour of the lesser quality Dolby Pro Logic II. Sure this offers some surround sound support, but the effect isn't anywhere near as gorgeous as full-on DTS sound as as usually listen to hear.

Don't get me wrong SSX On Tour is a brilliant game and I applaud Electronic Arts for trying to bring something fresh to the series. For me however I preferred the slicker presentation, dance music with DTS sound and certainly the inclusion of online gameplay of the previous title. Still, SSX On Tour is a great title and well worth a purchase. Excellent stuff.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSIn-game looks better then last year, but we prefer the old menus.
SOUNDNo more DTS or dance music, Dolby PLII and rock is the new thing.
GAMEPLAYMonster tricks are good, not great, racing the slopes is always a rush.
VALUEOnline modes are gone, but there's still a tonne here to see and do.
OVERALLSSX On Tour is yet another superb game in a series which has shined on PS2. I guess you have to look at whether you prefer dance or rock music, and if you want online gameplay, to decide between this years game or last years. Either way you're in for a tonne of fun.

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