Review by Vivi FF

Reviewed: 10/28/03 | Updated: 12/22/03

Is it possible to make the best game even better? EA certainly does their best!

There’s no denying that Electronic Arts Sports BIG’s snowboarding series, SSX, is probably one of the best series ever that graced the shelves and systems of Playstation 2 owners (and Gamecube and XBox owners too). Two years after SSX Tricky, EA has decided to develop and release a gigantic sequel to the SSX series and SSX 3 is definitely the sequel that redefines the SSX series for here on out! This game features one extremely gigantic mountain, beyond fully developed characters, even more insane tricks, and a whole-mountain full of fun.

Gameplay: 9/10
This game does only have a single mountain where you race, trick off objects, and above all have a good time. But this mountain is extremely humongous!!! Seriously, it takes half an hour to get from the tiptop all the way to the very bottom. Talk about having your work cut out for you. Thankfully, you don’t have to go through the whole mountain to do everything it has to offer. The mountain is split into three different peaks, each broken down into different courses and modes, ranging from backcountry exploring to half-pipe (a.k.a. super pipe) action in, this game truly has a lot to offer. Not only that but each course has it’s own style, look, and theme ranging from cities as in to pure nature courses with loads of tress and other nature elements. Don’t fret about the enormousness of the mountain. Navigating throughout the mountain is pretty easy via airplanes, gondolas, and menus that can literally transport you to almost anywhere.

SSX 3 contains various different modes and courses that correspond to each mode. Backcountry is the very tiptops of each peak. The Backcountry courses are courses that haven’t been improved on by man. These courses are pure nature. You also have your traditional Race mode where you go up against five other computer-controlled boarders in order to pass the finish line first. This mode is purely based on speed but don’t forget to pull off some tricks while you’re racing, they give you boost which makes you go even faster. You also have Slopestyle mode, which is quite similar to the Showoff modes in previous SSX’s. You navigate the course trying to obtain as much points as possible via tricking off various objects, rails, and jumps. Next you have your Super Pipe mode where you are given a bunch of halfpipes in which you have to trick off from both sides to gain enough air to do massive tricks for more points. Super Pipe is yet another trick-based event so don’t rush yourself entirely when playing. Finally, there’s the Big Air mode where the course is rather short but contains massive jumps for massive airs. Bring all of your best tricks here and combo them up cause it’s definitely not going to be easy. You can also free ride throughout the entire mountain, giving you the option of exploring the entire peak out and finding different shortcuts, lines, and even BIG challenges. BIG challenges are just as the name implies, they’re pretty big and somewhat difficult challenges that you can complete and receive cash for, ranging from jumping through a certain number of hoops in order throughout courses on the peak, to obtaining a decently high score on race tracks, which aren’t designed for tricks, and to even popping some balloons floating around at the top of the course. EA really stresses the BIG in BIG challenges. You also have to find collectibles, little snowflakes that give you instant money, which are scattered throughout the courses

Gameplay itself has been greatly improved on since SSX Tricky. Characters respond much more quickly and move much more smoother than before, especially when executing tricks. There are a few new additions to the gameplay. Now on, you can use the right analog stick to do board presses (or to skateboarding people out there, manuals). This feature alone is responsible for giving you insane trick totals. Now you can get massive air and perform a couple of insane tricks, then lend into a board press, and ride yourself to the next jump for even more big air and insane tricks. You can very easily get massive combos and continue combos for a much longer time. Unfortunately, hand-to-hand combat (i.e. shoving) has been toned down and you can no longer use the right stick to shove others. You’ll have to push the shoulder buttons while on the ground to shove others and to also block from others. You also have to charge up before executing a punch now because the more you charge up, the stronger your punch, the more likely your opposition will get knocked down and you’ll be rewarded with a full boost meter, but in return, you make someone else mad at you and some characters won’t hesitate to return the favor, with interest. Rails have also been redesigned. No longer will you just simply ride them, you can now lie back on your board and even do handstands while riding them! You can easily trick off rails now and trust me, with the setups of some of these courses; you really need good rail tricks. You can even do handplants if you line your characters up right. These courses are really interactive and you can trick off of a bunch of things.

Uber Tricks also return in SSX 3, new and improved but still with as great of an emphasis in the SSX 3 world. Uber Tricks now come back in three different levels. The first level of ubers is pretty basic. They are relatively short and they look a bit like half-ubers, ubers that don’t do the complete animation for a regular uber. After completing four of these, you will be bumped up a level. Level 2 and 3 ubers are the regular ubers that you’ve grown and loved from Tricky, except there’s a load of new ubers to choose from. The Level 3 ubers are much more insane than the Level 2 ubers. And there are also Monster Tricks, which is a smooth combination of ubers and a certain amount of spins and flips. At first, they might be hard to execute, but they reward you with massive points. How sweet is that! You can even hold all ubers in order to rack up some more points on a single trick. Not only that but all ubers are customizable. Meaning, you can choose which ubers each character has in order to make each character more effective. Plus your limit of ubers is now six, and with so many ubers to choose from, selecting the “best six” ubers is going to be quite a task. You also have to fill a Super Uber meter, much like in Tricky; you now have to do nine uber tricks in one session in order to be rewarded with unlimited boost for a short period of time. It may be a challenge to obtain, but is worth it.

The characters have always been a big part of the SSX series, and SSX 3 is no different. Returning from SSX Tricky are six characters, and they are Elise Riggs, the babe who is literally the snow queen, Mac Fraser, the typical high school student who doesn’t draw attention to himself, Kaori Nishidake, the lovable kawaii girl whose upbeat personality lifts others’ spirits, Moby Jones, a British guy who takes snowboarding rather seriously but never gives up the opportunity to show off and have a good time, Zoe Payne, the girl whose attitude, determination, and aggressiveness that spells her as a force not to be messed with, and Psymon Stark, the crazy psycho of the bunch who is extremely unpredictable. Four new characters are joining in and they are Allegra Sauvagess, a strong-willed skater girl with a load of attitude, Nate Logan, the strong, hard working and beyond determined guy, Griff Simmons, a twelve-year-old who is a kid at heart and at everything else, and Viggo Rolig, the Swedish daredevil weird guy. Each of these characters has their own unique styles and sayings and since each character doesn’t end up with different stats (as in past SSX’s), you can choose your character based on who you like as opposed to how good they are. Each character is extremely customizable with tons of cool and crazy bolt-ons. No longer will you have a couple of outfits to choose from, you now have the option to customize each section of a character without sacrificing any cooler accessories (i.e. you can simply take off the sunglasses as opposed to changing to a less cool outfit with the glasses off). Although a few characters could have used some cooler clothes and bolt-ons. These characters really make SSX 3 come to life, and maybe even more so.

Graphics: 10/10
The graphics of this game is, simply put, sweeter than candy! Or in other words, extremely awesome! Each of the many tracks and characters are now smoother, more realistic, and detailed than ever before. If you thought Tricky had good graphics, then SSX 3 will simply blow you away! This game looks that good! If you don’t believe me or really doubt what I’m saying, check out some of the screenshots for this game and I swear you would think that screens are from real life! Well, maybe not that far but it’s the next step down! All the different weather effects, snow trails, environments, and many others are very lifelike and detailed that you really have to see it to believe it. All these graphical sights run at about sixty frames per second (fps) without an opportunity for a slowdown. If there was an award for the game with the best graphics yet, SSX 3 will win hands down, or at least be an extreme close second.

Sound: 10/10
The sound of SSX 3 is a major improvement over SSX Tricky. For one, you now have a complete play list to select which songs you want to hear. Hate a song so much? You can now turn it off as easy as pie and never have to be tortured listening to that song again. Unfortunately, you cannot select the order in which the songs will play in but if you have all of your favorite songs on, then it shouldn’t be much of a problem. Besides, you can always manually change the song to one you like. What a slick addition to the series! Although, creating an awesome play list may be a bit too costly at first, you should be able to have more than enough money to create one late on. Some of the artists that have songs in SSX 3 are Yellowcard, Placebo, Alpine Stars, and the X-Ecutioners. With about thirty different songs to choose from, you’re bound to find some songs that you like on this massive soundtrack.

As awesome as the songs are, the sound effects and voices are just as good. EA has hired a new squad of voice actors to take up the characters’ voices; a majority of them really improve the actual character. Trust me, these characters are pretty chatty and have some awesome quotes so keep an ear or two open to catch all this great stuff they’re saying. DJ Atomica, a radio personality guy who replaces Rahzel from SSX Tricky in one way or another, keeps you updated on what’s going on in the monstrous world and also what’s playing on your radio. There is also a woman who announces things like “Big Air Bonus!” and “Uber Level 2” that really inspires you to get even more big air bonuses just to hear her again! Actual sound effects have been improved to sound more like they do in real life. The only problem with this is that while doing tricks in the air, there’s a mechanical grinding sound or something, probably the “wind”, that does get annoying after awhile. But with all the other great sound effects and music, you can easily tone it out eventually.

Play Time: 45 hours+
With over a thousand things to unlock and a bunch of different events and challenges to complete, you will be playing SSX 3 for a long, long time. But all that time it takes to complete the game; you will always be having fun. You may get frustrated at one event or challenge but in the end, it will come back to just pure fun!

Replayability: At least 10 times
You have ten different characters so you do have to Conquer the Mountain with each of the ten characters, so you will be playing the whole career mode ten whole times if you want to fully complete SSX 3. Although beating Conquer the Mountain with just one character is pretty tough and long as it is. It sounds like a lot of work and it is but it’s also a lot of fun work. Even after you beat the game, you will still play it for fun and to also obtain some records and truly call yourself a SSX Legend. Although, you could still be a legend without holding any records whatsoever.

Final Recommendation: Definite Buy
This game is well worth your fifty bucks to buy it and it will pay for itself in a great time and total satisfaction. Don’t believe me, rent it and give it a try. But I’m telling you, don’t waste your money renting it because you will come back and buy it after seeing how good this game really is.

Flaws: Quite a Few
Every game has a few flaws and, unfortunately, SSX 3 is no different. SSX 3’s key idea is exploration. But the exploration part of SSX 3 actually ruins some of the fun. The exploration goal consists of finding the collectibles and finding and completing the BIG challenges. The collectibles are a pain to get. It seems that EA just randomly threw the collectibles onto the mountain. It would be interesting if they put a snowflake or two in each shortcut but they didn’t and they’re scattered all over the place, even in places where it’s very not likely you’d ever go. The BIG challenges are pretty fun, but some are horribly designed and require luck more than actual skill. Plus it could be a hassle to find them all. These challenges have the potential to be a fun part of SSX, but they were ruined because EA did not think all of them completely through, nor did they test them all. One of the biggest flaws of the exploration goal is that EA has put “Off Limits” all over the place! How can you explore the entire mountain if EA restricts the majority of the mountain? Plus there’s no indications where the “Off Limits” starts so you may be boarding down in one direction and you’ll somehow be Off Limits without even knowing it. And the reset system doesn’t help out at all, if you’re taking an alternate path and you fall and lose your board, or need to reset, the game will reset you in a different part of the course all together.

SSX 3 has no character interactions so the characters are not all that lifelike. They could have been, but without character interactions and such, they’re just kind of boring. The only interaction the characters have is to say some quotes at one another during races. Plus without good interactions, you can’t really find out what kind of person each character really is. The Rider Profile is the only thing there, and even that doesn’t tell you much. Plus with the addition of cheat characters, SSX 3’s characters contradicts the previous SSX’s characters of having complete, lifelike characters.

One other thing that is missed in this sequel is the idea of fun. With only five short race courses, SSX 3 cannot compare with SSX Tricky’s eight unique race courses. Racing once you have beaten most of SSX 3 is not as fun as racing in Tricky because of the lack of character interactions (both before, after, and during the races) and that SSX’s courses are somewhat similar to each other and can all be beaten in less that two and a half minutes, even less. SSX’s Freestyle events are more fun than ever, but only at the cost of the races’ idea of fun. Overall, these flaws may hurt your SSX 3 experience if you have played SSX Tricky before. But it would be best to try and not think about these flaws when you’re actually playing so you could enjoy yourself more.

Final Score: 9/10
This game could have been an instant classic, like SSX Tricky, but a few flaws in the game does prevent it from reaching that. Despite those flaws, SSX 3 is a solid game that offers a ton of fun. No game collection can be complete without having this awesome game. SSX 3 is possibly the best snowboarding game out there! Sure, SSX Tricky is better at some parts, but in the long run, SSX 3 will keep you playing longer and harder. If you’re a big SSX fan or even a slight bit of a fan, than this is the game for you. Even if you’re not a snowboarding fan, try this game out and you easily be hooked. Trust me, you’re going to swallow this game, hook, line, and sinker! And if you’re not completely satisfied with SSX 3, try SSX Tricky as it is like a whole different game compared with SSX 3.

Rating: 9

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