Review by Websterh8su

Reviewed: 11/01/03

A Prime Example of What a Game Should Be.

Before I say anything else, I say this: SSX 3 is an absolute joy to play. The graphics flow smoothly and convey huge, expansive, and detailed environments. A top soundtrack accompanied by a radio DJ makes for near-religious experiences as you plummet 1000 ft to 'The Bitter End' by Placebo. The controls seem perfectly natural (once you have got the gist of the system) and responsive, and never seem too cumbersome. The main game has an addictive and well-honed structure, and the multi-player aspects are as superb as ever.

But why? Surely I'm just making an overtly positive fuss over a game not truly deserving?

Such words are blasphemy once you have experienced the wonders of SSX 3. Quite frankly, if it isn't the best game of the year, it's the best best sports game of the year, if not of all time. All of the gameplay aspects seen in SSX Tricky have been honed to near-perfection, and the addition of rail tricks and board presses makes for some insanely long combos. But before I get into the details, perhaps I should explain the SSX series.

If you didn't already know, SSX is a snowboarding game, slanted towards a more 'arcadey' style of play. (Which means break-dancing on the board and ridiculously brutal wipeouts that are somehow not fatal) The series began with SSX, released as a launch game for the PS2. Though rough around the edges, the structure was a winning formula. When its 'sequel' (arguably called so, due to the fact that it was simply a much-revamped version of the first game) SSX Tricky was released, the game was polished to perfection, or so it seemed. Now that SSX 3 has arrived, we know that SSX Tricky was merely a stop-gap. This is real deal.

Aside from the obvious graphical differences, the main way in which SSX 3 differs from its predecessors is the introduction of one huge 'super-mountain' which can be rode freely. The mountain is split up into three peaks, 1 being the easiest, 3 the hardest. Once all of the peaks have been unlocked, you can ride from top to bottom in one long run. It takes about 30 minutes, flat-out, and there are many hidden sections to be discovered. You could honestly spend a good week uncovering the secret areas and finding the best lines for tricks.

Of course, all this talk about exploration, but there's surely no way you can just turn around and board up the mountain? No. Instead you call for a helicopter with your mobile phone/computer thingy and get it to take you to the nearest checkpoint. You can even session an area (dictate the start and the end and ride that area as long as you want) to find the best places to score points. The communicator thingy also allows you to receive messages and challenges from rivals. It's a great addition that saves a lot of fuss. Something else that's rather cool is the ability to customise your character in 'the lodge'. Basically, the lodges can be found at various points on the mountain. You simply follow the signs until prompted to enter. Once inside you can purchase new clothes and special items. These go from the cool (Mobys 'Bling bling' chain) to the just plain odd (a paper bag on your head anyone? Or perhaps you'd like a dismantled cardboard box for a board?).

The roster of characters is essentially every character that's been in the SSX series, plus few new ones, including a 12-year-old prodigy, and a woman 'barely constrained by gravity'. Unfortunately, several old faves (Eddie, JP) have to be unlocked (which takes a while, but still).

Anyway, onto the actual main structure of the game. Basically, you choose a boarder and can name them, customise them, yadda yadda, already covered this. Once the game begins, you start out on a slope and can enter various events or challenges to earn money and medals, which can be exchanged for attributes and clothes, as well as a few secrets. The events are split into five types- Race (self-explanatory), freestyle (score points), big air (score points over a short-time, using high jumps), slope-style (a combination of racing and freestyle) and super pipe (score as many points as possible in a half pipe). The interesting thing about the events is that you can form rivalries or friendships with other characters, though some of it is scripted. The 'Big' challenges are essentially varied goals that include slaloms and jumping through hoops. There are huge number of them, so don't expect to finish the game immediately. There are also collectables hidden through-out the mountain, which are worth money, so they are worth checking out.

The soundtrack is great, but with more dance tracks than I'd like. Fortunately, this problem can be remedied by the ability to create your own soundtrack using the tracks in the game. There's even a DJ that pops up from time to time, dishing out advice and inane chatter. The sound effects are functional, but the voice acting is awesome, if limited. Nothing quite like performing an Indy 900 Fakie to Moby shouting ''Moby Jones, superstar...''.

Gah... need I go on? It's possible I could fill another hundred lines with details about the game, as I have not even got onto the online play yet. Simply do yourself a favour- go to your local game-store and buy this, then embrace it. Embrace it like you would a loved one.

Rating: 10

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