EA Sports' SSX is one big snowboarding playground
(Electronic Arts; PS3, Xbox 360; rated everyone)
In recent years, EA Sports has been refining and promoting the simulation aspect of its video games, which may have posed a problem for the development team responsible for renewing the once-lucrative snowboarding franchise. SSX was the game that initiated the EA Sports BIG brand, and BIG was all about pushing reality out of the way in favour of more extreme, dramatic action–snowboarding down steep mountain cliffs, for example, or jumping across crevasses.
SSX, the reboot released on February 28, manages to find a comfortable spot between realism and the extreme. The geography, for example, is based on data acquired from NASA, so Mont Blanc and Mount Everest are as you’d expect. But the designers took creative licence with the actual runs down the mountains. And the virtual athletes are veritable superhumans.
World Tour, the name given to the single-player story mode, is a long tutorial. The idea is there are nine deadly descents in the world, each with its own particular danger. Mount Robson, for example, is pincushioned with trees, and surviving the run down its slope requires that you be able to jump over fallen trees, grind on others, and steer around the conifers still standing.
Once you start making your way through World Tour you’ll unlock Explore, which turns Earth into a big, open winter playground for you and your friends. It gives you the opportunity to roam the 150-plus runs in the nine global regions and compete with friends using RiderNet, the name given to SSX’s online multiplayer matching (similar to Need for Speed’s Autolog).
Global Events is the online multiplayer mode, with regular drop-in events staged by EA Sports. Just like in the real world, you’ll be on the hill with riders from around the world.