Review by Jimmy The Duck Man
Creativity? From EA? Well, they have struck gold with this wild ride.
When SSX first appeared on the PS2, people were wowed by the creative level design, crazy tricks, and over the top character antics. Electronic Arts's new studio, EA BIG, had made its debut in a BIG way (all puns intended). A few years later they're on the third installment of the series and it has only gotten better. Now, before I get into the meat of this review, let me give you a warning: SSX 3 is not even remotely realistic. If you want a completely accurate snowboard sim with perfect physics, look elsewhere, for you won't find it here. However, the fact that this game is unrealistic is what makes it so FUN, and fun factor is what games are all about, right? Well, let's find out:
Hmm, what can be said about the gameplay for SSX 3? What can't be said, really. For starters, this game is completely insane. Seriously, everything about this game is way over the top. Jumping off of huge cliffs, getting several hundred feet of air, and ten seconds of airtime are not unusual in this game. Sure, it's unrealistic, but it's incredibly fun.
Racing is actually pretty standard in this game, and it's semi-realistic too. You steer with the joystick, hold up to go faster, and hold down to go slower. However, the levels are full of opportunities to pull huge tricks, which give you boost that can be used to go even faster and gain an edge on your opponents. but, if you fall, you'll end up losing time (obviously). One really cool aspect of this game is the ability to get physical with your opponents during a race. You can push them over to fill your own boost bar, but just be careful that they don't do the same to you. SSX 3 is a sold game as far as racing is concerned, but what is a snowboarding game without the tricks?
OK, the tricks are what make this game so special. Much of the game is based around your ability to perform ridiculous tricks. Not only is it fun to try to do the biggest, craziest trick you can possibly pull off, but it's just plain fun to watch. Now, 90% of the things that you do in SSX 3 can't be repeated in real life, but that's why it's a video game. The trick system in SSX 3 is pretty simple and intuitive. You use the four shoulder buttons to perform different types of grabs, some of which include taking one foot off of your snowboard. The D-pad is used to do spins and flips and such (the shoulder buttons and D-pad can be used in combination to do really cool tricks, if you hadn't already figured that out). If you do enough tricks without falling to fill up your boost meter, you can then perform an "uber trick." An uber trick is like a really crazy trick where you usually come completely off of your snowboard and do weird stuff in the air. If you do enough uber tricks, you can then do a "Super uber trick." A Super uber trick is like an uber trick, only even more crazy and unrealistic. It's fun to do them to see all of the different variations of uber and super uber tricks that they have come up with. Again, it's very unrealistic, but that's what makes it so great. My one complaint about doing tricks is the way that you have to set up for them. In order to do any sort of spin, you have to hold down the jump button and press directions on the D-pad going into a jump. This makes it hard to set up a good trick if you're coming out of a turn or something, so you have to trade off between control od your boarder and potential for really cool tricks. Other than that, the trick system works perfectly for the type of game this is.
Another aspect of this game that I feel needs to be mentioned is the "Freeride" mode. Most games like this have a freeride mode of one kind or another, where you can ride through the levels with no time limit and no restrictions or anything like that, but SSX 3 takes it to a whole new level. The way the levels are designed (more on that later), all of the courses are on one big mountain, so you can go straight from one course to the next without any loading screens and break in the action. It is much like transferring from one course to another on a regular ski resort. There's a short area in between the levels with a ski lodge or some other random scenery that you would expect in between two ski slopes, but you just ride straight on through on to the next course. It is especially fun to ride from the very top of the mountain all the way to the bottom. It takes about half an hour, but it is so fun (you don't go on all of the courses, since some of them are for big air and trick events, but you hit quite a few on your way down). While it's not that major of a feature, the way it's done makes it worth a mention.
Yes, level design gets its own section. That's how awesome the levels are. I really can't say enough about level design in this game. As I said earlier, the game is set up so that there is a huge mountain that has all of the courses on it. The mountain is divided into three peaks, with each peak getting more extreme as you go farther up the mountain. Each peak has its own "backcountry" slope, which is just nature, no man-made ramps or anything. They're actually really fun to play, since there are always huge cliffs and caves and fun stuff like that. Then there are the regular race courses. It's hard to describe the courses, but imagine a "regular snowboarding game level" on crack, and then multiply that by 100. The courses reek of man-made snow structures, but they're really fun to race down. There are ramps around almost every corner (literally), and so many shortcuts and secret passages that you can find a new one every time you play. The trick, or "slopestyle" courses are the same way. Ramps galore, with tons of rails too. The level design is truly incredible in this game, as well as the entire SSX series. The levels alone make this game worth getting. EA did an excellent job in the department. A+ work.
"What, a story section? This is a snowboarding game, not an RPG!"
Ok, OK, this game doesn't exactly have a storyline, but is has something that slightly resembles a storyline! You choose your character, and you're like part of the group of elite SSX riders that came to ride the mountain. there is this guy that talks on the radio and says stuff about your character, like "so and so has been making some noise on the circuit lately" or "whatshisface has been talking a lot of trash lately. Is so and so going to put up with that?" It makes you feel like you're in the game, sort of. Nothing major, but still worth mentioning.
For some reason I don't like assigning numerical ratings to individual parts of games, but in this case I feel that it is necessary. This game gets 7.5/10 in the graphics department. In looking back at the original SSX and SSX Tricky, I can see that the graphics have come a long way since the first SSX game, but they still aren't incredibly impressive. The character models are OK. Realistic enough, but nothing special. The environments are really nice though. The snow looks pretty real. The graphics aren't really a selling point for this game. They're good enough, but nothing too spectacular.
You have two options of what you want to listen to in this game: ambient noises of the mountain, or the "EA Radio" or whatever they've come up with. I'll be honest...I hate what EA is doing with the audio in their games. There is like a radio station that you listen to with an announcer that says different things about the mountain and maybe gives a few hints here and there. Then there are the songs that are played on the radio. It is all stuff that EA has deemed to be popular, and it's mostly rock. i hate it all, but it probably depends on your own music tastes. I'm a classic rock fan, so take it for what you will.
As far as length is concerned, I was pretty disappointed with this game. I maxed out the stats for my character and had everything finished and unlocked within a week of buying this game, and I wasn't even playing it that much. It takes almost no time at all to "finish" this game. However, the replay value almost makes up for it. I was still playing this game constantly after I had unlocked everything. Riding down the entire mountain is so fun, and it never gets old. This game has enough replay value to keep you occupied for a while, even if you unlock everything within a week.
I've decided to give this game the ol' 9/10. SSX 3 is a great game, save for some minor flaws. I highly recommend this game to anyone who thinks they might like a snowboarding game. This is by far the most fun snowboarding game I've ever played. The gameplay is insane and the trademark level design is spectacular. I'm STILL finding new areas of the levels that I didn't know about. That's how good the levels are. If you're reading this review you probably show some interest in the game, so i would say to buy this game if you can. As long as you're not expecting realism, you won't be disappointed.
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