SSX On Tour Reader Review
So what have we learned?
Arguably when the PS2 launched, it had similar problems to the recent 360 launch - the machine itself was great, but there was scarcely anything available for it at launch that did the hardware justice.
Oddly enough, one of the most overlooked titles was one of the first titles I picked up - the Snowboarding game SSX. Surprisingly for me (not a massive fan of extreme sports games) it turned out to be a rivetting addictive and satisfying game and one that got more of my friends buying PS2s than any of the other titles I picked up at launch.
A couple of years later, EA's "BIG" studio surpassed themselves and produced a sequel - or more of a remix really, taking the original tracks and characters, adding in a complete fantasy makeover and turning SSX into SSX Tricky - a balls-out excellent game probably criticised only for being about as much like Snowboarding as French Knitting.
EA being EA are not ones to let successful IPs just dwindle away, and so a third game was soon on the cards. But what happened? The series went off the rails in quite spectacular fashion trying to be so uber-cool it froze gamers out, and SSX3 is now remembered for being the worst of the series...until now? Well we'll see shall we...
It would seem that EA are quite well aware of the fact that they've launched an absolute stinkard of a game. SSX On Tour was barely advertised, not hyped, and you would have to scrabble around to find a decent review of it anywhere. Why is this? Well it could have a lot to do with the fact that people just don't care about the series any more, or it just could be that it's so dreadful that it was quietly hushed away onto the backburner.
Anyway, I figured it was worth grabbing so picked it up relatively cheaply and dove in with both feet strapped firmly to the board (there are also skis in the game for the first time by the way, but as we all know, ski-ing is about as cool as painting your arse blue and waggling it at passing motorists).
SSX On Tour features a very similar game dynamic to SSX3 - you choose what you want to compete in across several challenges, sort yourself out a character (from the usual EA "make a goon" character editor - although this version seemed strangely lacking). Grab a board (or skis if you must) and then hit the slopes in everything from races to trick-point-accumulation challenges.
Sticky like glue.
Oddly though it grated at first, I came to like the presentation of this game. Menus and loading screens look like the insane doodlings of a 15 year old, but are quite entertaining. As usual the game does have the feel of having EA's huge wads of cash spent on it to produce something very nice and spick and span, so how does it play?
Well quite frankly, the controls are all over the place compared to earlier titles, but you get used to them after a while and soon get a handle on performing some decent tricks. Graphically the game is superb with some impressive character animation, modelling and draw distances as well as some very involving environments which veer towards real-life settings rather than the bistromatic visuals of SSX Tricky. Sound is also used to good effect but I won't waste anyone's time by having yet another moan about EA's choice of music. It can be turned off. Bear that in mind.
Would you hit it?
Oddly EA seem to be suffering from a serious loss of direction of late, with some of their former triple-A franchises just not selling, or being quietly tucked away. SSX On Tour is one such title which you'd expect a lot of gamers to have gone nuts about, but barely even registered on most people's gaming radar. Which to be honest, after a few days play, will seem like a shame because there is definitely something here to enjoy - though not to the extent of being an instant classic like Tricky (which will always remain the best in the series for me).
SSX On Tour is a title that, if you see it languishing in a bargain bin, you might want to pick it up. It has its dull moments but there is also quite a challenging learning curve when you dive deeper into the game, and you will find that there is long term appeal if you really are a dyed in the wool fan of the game. Ironically SSX has always been compared to Amped, though they're very different games. This time round, the comparison is even closer because when you play this game you will be so heavily reminded of Amped 1 that if you've always been an SSX hater and have always favoured the other franchise, you might like this a heck of a lot. But for me I'll wait until EA Big realise what the magic formula was, and that it had nothing to do with trying to provide a realistic and empty simulation of actual snowboarding, because as we all know - sitting in front of your telly with a pad in your hand cannot compare to getting out there in the powder...
7 / 10