Review by ripper73

Reviewed: 12/07/03

EA Sports BIG's hit

When people ask me which games I most admire and enjoy on the Playstation 2, one of my first responses is always SSX Tricky, the sequel to EA Sports BIG's hit PS2 launch title. The graphics, gameplay and atmosphere were pretty much perfect. After a two year break EA Canada have released a third game in the series, SSX3, but rather then just adding a few new riders and courses the developers have totally re-invented and rebuilt the game with many improvements including online gameplay and one bloody big mountain.

One of the biggest changes to SSX3 is that the action now takes place on one single mountain, which is split up into 3 peaks, each of which becomes more perilous. Starting out on Peak One is relitively simple, the slopes are gentile, the jumps and drop-offs are obvious. Peak Two increases the pace a little bit with some more dangerous situations and bigger jumps. The summit, however, is for the real pro's. Completing some of these courses requires a good knowledge of the mountain as areas crumble away from beneath your snowboard, and the other riders in the races are highly skilled. Beat all three peaks and you’re in for an epic half-hour ride down the face of the entire mountain. The mountain itself is loaded with trick areas, rail parks, racecourses and half-pipes.

Gamers have access to a massive arsenal of new Uber Tricks and special moves - from handplants to board presses. A new three-tiered Uber Trick system now includes one-footed Ubers, rail-based tricks and signature moves for each character. A new combo system allows for nearly endless combos that can run the length of the entire mountain. Four new characters join six returning favorites. Mac, Elise, Zoe, Moby, Psymon, and Kaori are back, and they’re joined by the crazy Swede Viggo, mountain man Nate, 12 year-old phenom Griff, and the talented and sexy Allegra.

Finally the game will include hundreds of extras by way of unlockable collectables, secrets and shortcuts which will either enhance your characters abilities, their looks or just give you some fun extras to play with. These are unlocked by purchasing them from the prize money earned during races and traversing the mountin. What is impressive are the invisible load times. Unless you transport through the menu it is possible to snowboard from one event to the next without any load times.

As with some other EA titles in PAL territories the developers have included online gameplay. Unfortunately, while the single player game offers several competitors the online gameplay only allows for one-on-one action, like the other EA titles. Unfortuantely there is no Australian based server, with gamers having to connect to the servers in America and Europe causing some lag issues. If you manage to connect to another Australian player (and they are listed in the official Australian Playstation forums) then the lag issues during the game due to peer-to-peer connections are minimal. It's also possible to talk to your opponent through the USB headset.

Despite it's brilliance the game still has a couple of niggles which remain from the previous title, but have been reduced significantly. The first of these is getting stuck in some positions on the course, such as against buildings, walls or trees. Secondly, at times its hard to tell if going off an edge will give you a shortcut, or send you off bounds costing you crucial seconds. Some warning signs along some out of bounds drop offs would be nice. Still the more you play the levels the more you learn where to, or not to, go.

Graphically, SSX3 looks wonderful. No, scratch that, SSX3 looks stunning. With the assistance of an OSCAR nominated visual effects artist the developers have created one of the most visually striking snow based games ever. One thing that becomes apparent is the wide range of snow which you will plough through. In all EA Canada has include around 30 different types of snow which affect the speed and handling of your riders. Deep powdery snow will slow you down while icy sleet sections of the track allow you to gather tremendous amounts of speed. Animations are particularly impressive. Pulling off tricks looks impressive, but the Uber-tricks are simply stunning, especially when in the half-pipes. The lighting on the snow, especially during races at sunset, is possibly the best yet seen in game on the Playstation 2. The most impressive aspect, however, is that despite the massive view distances the game has absolutely no pop-up.

The audio is once again an area in which EA have exceled. With DTS 4.0 (EA - please put in the sub-woofer from now on!) the sound is simply phenomenal. The surround use isn't aggressively used however there are often sound from the rear speakers as you go past crowds, canyons or falling trees. The music is a superb mix of dance and rock, with the emphasis on more upbeat beats then heavy grunge, still with the ability to create your own playlist you can easily add or remove tracks to suit your tastes. The music is comes from a wide range of bands such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chemical Brothers, Felix Da Housecat, NERD, Queens of the Stoneage and many others. Even better is the option to turn the DJ on or off as well. His comments are usually impressive enough to retain, however purists may prefer the sound of wind gushing through your hair. The only disappointment is that this game doesn't have a ''signature'' song such as ''It's Tricky'' from Run DMC in the previous game.

EA Sports BIG have outdone themselves with SSX3. One of the best games on the Playstation 2 in SSX Tricky has been revamped and improved so much that this game is a certain purchase, even if you own both prequels. The levels of detail, the course layouts, amount of extras to unlock and most importantly the gameplay, makes this a certain puchase. It's hard to imagaine a better game.

GRAPHICS Excellent cut-scenes, stunning animations and lighting in the levels. 95%

SOUND DTS sound, excellent music, great voices. What more do you want? 95%

GAMEPLAY If you love the previous games, and who doesn't, then you'll love this. 93%

VALUE So many tracks, characters and secrets to unlock, months of replay. 98%

OVERALL SSX3 is a spectacular game in every respect. EA Canada has improved on the stunning SSX Tricky and the addition of online gameplay will keep those with network adapter busy for weeks. Those without network adapters need not worry as there is months of gameplay in this title. SSX3 is a stunning title that even owners of the originals should purchase. 96%

Rating: 10

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