After the 2007 flop of SSX Blur, many gamers sadly wrote off the SSX snowboarding series, mentally relegating it to the hall of fallen giants.
It seemed that the days of insanely fun, gravity-defying stunts and addictive gameplay were over. There have been other entries in this sports genre since, but none could capture the spirit of the first few games that launched this franchise so high.
Five years later — or seven if you count the last good game in the series — Electronic Arts has attempted a reboot of the series. And for the most part, it has succeeded. SSX isn't just a rehash of older games to get people back into the franchise. This offers an entirely new design, focusing on more of an open world while retaining the addicting trick-based core gameplay.
One of the coolest things about this game is that EA Canada worked with NASA and used topographical map data to engineer levels and courses that accurately reflect real locations around the globe. Combine this with a slick user interface, and the developers have hit a high note on design. Also, one of the biggest reliefs is not seeing a bunch of invisible walls. These evil developer tricks are not used as often as they have been in past games, and that's a welcome change.
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The gameplay itself will be familiar to fans of the series or even the genre as a whole. Tricks are the name of the game again, and going back to the days of spelling out "tricky," you have to accumulate points and combos to gain power and perform even crazier stunts. The control scheme has been changed, and it's a bit bewildering at first, but it feels smooth after some time. Instead of focusing largely on the triggers and buttons as in SSX 3 or Tricky, this new SSX largely uses the analog sticks to control characters.
The game isn't without flaws. The core trick-based system is fun, but it gets a little stale after a while. Gamers won't find the depth and longevity of previous releases here. Also, there are some confusing and frustrating elements of certain courses that can wipe out an otherwise awesome combo.
Even with those minor drawbacks, SSX remains a fun game and definitely is a worthy entry into the storied franchise. EA's reboot is a success.