It’s easy to forget that the once-excellent SSX series took a bit of a tumble when it last appeared back in 2007, thanks to a misjudged embrace of imperfect motion controls. Now having brushed off the powder and massaged its bruises, EA has come up with a new entry that offers the kind of extreme sports larks that have been in short supply during the reign of the PS3 and Xbox 360.
Rather than rehashing the instant speedy thrills of the past, this reboot moves with the times. The action might remain zippy, but now the focus is on honing your boarding skills and proving yourself on the world stage through the game’s social features.
This emphasis means there’s little sign of the madder excesses of previous SSX games. Instead there are sprawling courses based on topographical data from real mountains – though a few handy jumps and grinding rails having been added for your gnarly convenience.
Hazards – vast chasms and avalanches – are also here, so much so that on top of the usual racing and trick-performing challenges there are steep survival courses where the goal is simply to reach the bottom in one piece. This does mean SSX lacks some of the freewheeling fun of old, but to make up for that the game is blessed with social network-inspired features that provide a powerful incentive for self-improvement.
You can test your mettle against the ghosts of other players, compete in global events to win a share of the valuable in-game credits you need to upgrade your equipment and leave geotags on the slopes for others to collect.
But SSX doesn’t have a simultaneous online multiplayer option and, while EA tells us it’s old fashioned, we still think SSX is poorer for not having split-screen two-player races.
Overall though, SSX is a successful revival of the series that, despite toning down the accessibility, offers a great social playground for anyone who wants to try and conquer the slopes.