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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
EA Sports
EA Sports Big
GENRE: Extreme Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
December 02, 2001


SSX Blur

SSX On Tour

SSX On Tour

More in this Series
 Written by Ilan Mejer  on January 28, 2002

Full Review: "Me on board. Board on snow. Right, I got it now!" ~ Psymon, SSX snowboarder

One of the first titles out of EA Sports BIG, a relatively new branch of the sports game giant, was the Playstation 2 launch title, SSX. SSX Tricky, not so much a sequel, but a vastly improved remake of the original, was originally released on Sony's newest machine, and has since then been adapted for both Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube. Essentially a port of the PS2 game, SSX Tricky does not exactly showcase the GameCube hardware in any particular aspect. However, this does not prevent the game from achieving truly extreme levels of fun!

After choosing your on-screen avatar from the four initially available characters, you have the option of entering one of two practice modes, a ?quick-fix? single session, and the single player World Circuit. In the World Circuit, you have the option of competing in two categories, Race and Showoff. Race, as the name implies, pits half a dozen snowboarders against each other in a blistering downhill run on one of just under ten varied courses. Showoff has you falling solo on the same courses, the sole objective being the completion of tricks in order to score points. Both modes can net you one of three medals: copper, silver, and gold. The more precious the medal the more points you receive in order to upgrade your character's statistics.

While the Race mode encourages you to accomplish tricks in order to fill up your adrenaline (boost) and perform the wild and point-rich Uber Tricks, the Showoff mode absolutely requires it. Indeed, the Showoff mode is the perfect venue for perfecting your trick runs in the various courses, and doubles as an opportunity to power up your snowboarder for the longer and more difficult Race mode. Performing the Uber Tricks will net you insane points in the Showoff mode, and in both modes will allow you to spell out the word ?Tricky.' Once the word is completed, your adrenaline and Tricky timer will never deplete for the duration of that run. A quick and dirty way to max out your adrenaline and initiate the Tricky opportunities is to knock down your opponents. However, be aware that in the World Circuit, this will anger your opponents and raise their aggression levels. Every snowboarder has different relationships with his/her peers, so be careful not to alienate yourself from the other boarders as they will attack you relentlessly during runs.

The control scheme for SSX Tricky is straightforward and intuitive to fans of the extreme genre. Each grab, executed with the L, R, and Z buttons, can be tweaked by holding down the B button yielding a plethora of available tricks. The vaunted Uber Tricks can be performed once your adrenaline is maxed-out by performing one of the many grabs and tweaking it. Each time you accomplish the same trick its point and adrenaline bonus values will depreciate, encouraging you to keep your trick set varied. As is common in the genre, combinations of tricks can be strung together by landing atop a grind-able rail, then jumping off it for another air trick opportunity.

Overall, the graphics are impressive. The courses are all varied and and the characters are even more so. The characters are all unique individuals that are colorful, brilliantly animated, and each one simply exudes personality. The game, despite the occasional chop, also runs quite smoothly and more than fast enough. There is a definite difference between a boarder chugging around at 30 miles per hour and another flying through the course at a blazing 70+ mph. The sensation is exhilarating and convincing, especially for a snowboarding game. There are only a couple of visual faults. One of these is the PS2 quality texture work, which does absolutely nothing to show off the GameCube to your friends. They are not bad but we have already seen better from our Cubes. Furthermore, the last two official courses, Hawaii and Alaska both suffer from the occasional frame rate stutter. It does not detract from the gameplay, but I consider it a result from a quick, cross platform port.

The sound department is also a mixed bag, although again, more positive than not. Aside from the spectacular Run DMC song ?It's Tricky,? the game suffers from boring, unexciting, and uninspired music throughout. Each course can play from three tracks (which are selectable by pausing) although some songs do overlap from course to course. None of these songs will either get your adrenaline flowing or aggravate you much. However, the experience is brought to life by spot-on convincing sound effects and amongst the best voice casting I have ever experienced in a sports game. The announcer himself is enjoyable enough, although he does get old and repetitive rather quickly. However, the character voices complete the ?individual' package that the graphics and animations established. A professional actor casts each character in the game, including Oliver Platt, Lucy Liu, David Arquette, and Macy Gray for starters. The personalities of each character simply blaze forth in game as they cheer their friends, psych out their enemies, cry in exultation at completed tricks, or scream in fury at their painful bails.

The game features exceptional replay value, mostly in the form of unlockable goodies. With eight unlockable characters, the game sets the framework for a system of unlocking extras from the get-go. Earning medals, especially gold, will yield you with new characters to choose from, new courses to visit, and new boards to ride down the hill. Additionally, each character has a ?trick book' with 6 chapters in it, 5 tricks per chapter. As you accomplish character-specific tricks, you will open up new chapters in that trick book, unlocking new outfits with which to garb your avatar. There is quite a bit of work to unlocking every feature for every character in SSX Tricky, but it will never get old to do so!

Bottom Line
SSX Tricky surprised me. I will readily admit that I am not a fan of sports games, yet I am pleased that SSX Tricky is in my GameCube library. I find the game to be an exceedingly complete and enjoyable package. The in game graphics are convincing and pleasing, the music is very well complimented by the exceptional sound effects and voice-overs, and the gameplay is ridiculous, over the top, and immensely enjoyable. I recommend anyone with even a casual interest in sports games to gird their snowboards and rush into this wild ride!

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