SSX On Tour Reader Review
'Call Your Momma In The Room...'
SSX was the first game I ever bought for my PS2. Not only did it look and sound great but it ticked one of the biggest boxes in game design...
IT MADE THE PLAYER LOOK 'COOL'.
So much so that even GIRLS wanted to play too !!!
Fast forward to 2005 and I'm please to say that SSX is still with us. More surprisingly, having been through several incarnations all under the watchful eye of EA Sports 'BIG' division, (with arguably, no major drop in quality), it now seems fair to say they have one of the best, sorry; make that THE best snowboarding games on any platform.
With this in mind it was only logical that Sony would want to take this beloved, and crucially, lucrative franchise and squeeze it on to the PSP - pronto.
So here it is in all its dudeish graffitied glory, and to their credit they've succeeded in delivering the playability of its console brothers - but at the same time reminded you why 'Big' things don't necessarily fit into small packages. (Ho ho).
'....and show her how average you are.'
On first play it all looks good. Sure, the textures are a tad more blurry, the boarders have less polys, it also feels like a lot quieter solitary experience - but it still looks the part.
The slopes themselves are a combination of new tracks plus some old faves from SSX3, and best of all they're all there and recognisable in all their motion-blurred, lens-flared glory. Draw distance doesn't seem to be an issue here either, and the whole thing moves as silky smooth as... err, something Lycra that skiers might wear. A thong maybe ?
Better still, EA BIG haven't balls up the controls. Much.
Speaking as the person who took the PSP incarnation of Tony Hawk back to the store on the grounds that it was virtually unplayable (unless you had tentacles), I had big concerns that the SSX control system, (always a strong point of the series), would transfer well to the PSP... and it has, to a certain extent.
Yes, in no time at all I was amazed to see just how quickly I was grabbing, flipping and indeed, tweaking. Still, I soon discovered they'd also managed to repeat the classic mistake they made on the Xbox incarnation of SSX3 - namely that of binding the 'boost' button to the same button as 'tweak' and making it context sensitive. (Or to put that in non-SSX speak, if you want to go faster when you land but press the 'fast' button just a fraction of a second too early, then it assumes you actually want to trick again). Net result : you fall face first into the snow from about 50 ft. Thanks.
Its other big failing is the camera which seems to be stuck directly behind your boarder instead of the usual '10ft back and 10 feet above' of the console versions, and no; there is no option to move it.
The result is that any sharp turns or tight curves can be completely obscured from view leaving you to follow the lie of the track just to try and work out where the hell it is you're meant to be going.
This would be bearable if anticipating banks, turns and possible trick opportunities wasn't such a key part of the game, but it is. As such you'll have several instances where you fly blindly round a bend only to slam into a tree. Not cool.
These factors coupled with a manual that contains no actual instructions of any value serve to make this game harder than it should be, and definitely the hardest SSX out there for all the wrong reasons.
The other big disappointment is the sound. Now I may be nitpicking here, but you see I've always thought that the SXX series was almost up there with Rez and Lumines from a sort of 'sound interactively' point of view.
The way music falls away leaving just the ambient noise of the mountain when you do another ludicrous jump - only to come back in the mix when you land is just fab.
Well, you won't get that here, but then again did you really expect that from a UMD ? Still the EA 'trax' (God, I hate that word), are at least bearable unlike say, Burnout 3 ? Switch of the 'trax' and you'll get some passible ambient effects but nothing spectacular.
Yellow Snow ?
So that's it. A passible snowboarding game and by default, the best snowboarding game on the PSP so far.
If you love SSX, have every game (as I do) and, the think you'll enjoy the feeling of being towed behind a blind snowboarder on amphetamines... whilst listening to the LCD Soundsystem - then by all means get it. (Actually that does sound quite good !).
Me ? Colour me 'MEH'. That said I keep coming back to it, but whether that's because its addictive or I'm just trying to convince myself that I still look cool I don't know.
In summary, I feel guilty at not giving this a lower score - but a voice in my head keeps saying 'Look !' 'Its SSX!!! - IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND !!!'... and as we all know, the voices must be obeyed.
6 / 10