December 2, 2001
SSX Tricky - Review
|23/11/2001||EA Sports Big||In-House||1-2||G||$99.95|
While many people opted for Playstation 2 launch titles such as Tekken Tag Tournament or the very average Ridge Racer V it was the EA Sports Big published SSX that earned the most respect from gamers. It was something fresh on a console that contained mostly re-hashes of older PSOne games. EA's over-the-top snowboarding game had some fantastic visuals, a very cool soundtrack and, most importantly, totally absorbing gameplay. To this day the game SSX is still in the Top 15 sales charts PS2, and EA Sports Big have just release the sequel, SSX Tricky.
|The game has some massive jumps.|
The moment the intro to SSX Tricky begins, and despite one or two moments of poor clipping, you know this game is going to be something very special. Set to the song "It's Tricky" by Run DMC the intro combines some very cool close ups of the riders with some of the frantic action and tricks from the game. The menu system been overhauled and is now made up of some very cool 3D graphics to show off the riders with a neat animation. SSX Tricky also includes two totally new tracks, Garibaldi (the first track) and Alaska (which appears towards the end of the game), while the other tracks have all been totally re-worked and are almost impossible to recognise from the original game.
SSX Tricky includes three main game modes. These are the practice area where you can learn to pull off all the tricks, the single race where you can compete against other riders, in a free run or in the show-off mode where you have to rack up as many points as possible on the courses. In show-off mode the game adds many more rails and jumps then in standard races to create spectacular tricks more regularly. Finally, SSX Tricky includes a Championship mode where you enter two heats and a final to earn gold, silver or bronze medals. The higher the ranking the more items (such as boards and clothing), riders and other tracks you unlock. The difficulty seems pretty much spot on with the game very easy to get into but requiring a bit of practice before you learn the tracks and when yo pull off the all-new "Uber Tricks".
|Zoe is one very cool chick.|
These "Uber Tricks" (which basically means ultimate tricks) are specific to each rider and occur after your boost bar hits maximum. You then have a few seconds to get some massive air and pull off an "Uber Trick" to earn massive points. These tricks are absolutely delightful to watch as the riders flip and spin the boards around their bodies. It's unrealistic, but just so spectacular that it doesn't matter. Also new to this years game are the aggression levels of the other riders to yourself. Each opponent is rated as a either a friend, neutral or enemy, in which case they are more likely to try and knock you off the board while on the slopes. In order to keep as many friends as possible it's wise not to knock down the opponents, but that may just cost you the race.
There isn't really to much to complain about with SSX Tricky, and what is there isn't significant enough to distract from the overall experience. Possibly the biggest complaint is that your rider will occasionally get "stuck" in parts of the track, mostly on the downward slope against a wall or building. This can lead to the rider continually getting up, hitting the wall almost instantly and then falling over again. Fortunately, the developers have implemented a recovery so if you get stuck, or wander off the course too far, you are placed back on the track. The other are which I would love to see is a couple more tracks. Having only 2 more tracks may put some owners of the original off buying this game, although they shouldn't.
|EA SPORTS BIG?
The EA Sports Big label was first use on last years PS2 launch title, SSX and earlier this year on the superb NBA Street. The branding is used on games which are regular sports but over exaggerated with flamboyant players and over the top moves. Rumoured to be next up under the Big brand is a BMX racing game expected in mid 2002.
Although the original SSX was a launch title here in Australia, the game is still regarded as one of the best looking on the Playstation 2, despite some quite frequent slowdown. SSX Tricky blows that game away in terms of speed, detail and the little touches. The tracks are now a lot more colourful with many more shortcuts and hidden areas to discover. When you are playing in the show-off modes the game places a lot more items on the track to jump off and grind along. While the game may seem a little on the sluggish side in early track such as Garabaldi when you hit a circuit like Aloaha Ice Jam (which is a massive chunk of ice towed to Hawaii from the Arctic) you'll be hard pressed to control your rider due to the blistering speed thanks to the extremely steep slopes. Animation on the riders in SSX Tricky also deserves a special mention as it's absolutely tremendous with riders jostling for position and performing a wide array of stunts.
Unfortunately, the graphics in SSX Tricky really still requiring some attention. While on a solo run down the slopes, such as in the showoff or freeride modes, the game engine holds up perfectly well. However when you are racing with 5 opponents there are still some instances of slowdown which are quite noticeable. It doesn't happen too often, usually when all the racers are ahead of you and you are going around big corners, but when it does happen it is noticeable. The instances of this occurring are quite rare and the game has been improved considerably over last years version.
|The lighting has also been improved.|
EA Sports have put a lot of effort into the games music and Mix Master Mike has overseen a lot of the sound production from the game which includes plenty of very cool hip-hop/dance tracks as well as the classic "It's Tricky" from the Run DMC. But while the music selection is solid, and stunningly appropriate for this game it's the way in which it's used that is most impressive. Getting massive air will see the music fade into the background so you can hear the whooshing air and cries from the riders while maxing out you boost meter will see the game start playing "it's tricky". The music is mixed so well you hardy notice the change in songs. Sound effects are equally impressive with the boards making a very cool grating noise over the ice and snow while the race is littered with comments from the riders. SSX Tricky is boosted even further with the use of DTS sound which offers 5.1 sound throughout the game and adds so much atmosphere. If you have the means I suggest you hook this game up to your decoder immediately.
One absolutely magnificent addition to this game is a lengthy series of behind the scenes extras similar to those on DVD movies. These extras look at the different areas of development and sections of the game and are extremely well put together. Many people should have a much greater understanding of the thought processes that go into a game and the effort the developers went to make this better then last years game. This is one kind of feature the I would love to see on many more Playstation 2 games from now on. Terrific.
|Races finish with a neat animation.|
Over the last year I have played almost every game released on Playstation 2, and certainly many more then I have reviewed. Despite a couple of very minor graphical niggles with SSX Tricky I can safely say that this is the best game to date on the console. The exhilaration of pulling an uber-trick, the speed at which you hit the slopes, the numerous hidden paths and shortcuts, the frantic action, the cool music all combine to make this one of the best games ever. If you owned the original game then you may be disappointed to hear that there are only 2 new tracks, but the others have been modified so much and there are so many new tricks that it's like an entirely new game. This is what the Playstation 2 is all about, pure thrills. SSX Tricky gets my highest recommendation to all gamers.
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