SSX On Tour
[Gamecube] [EA Sports BIG]
You know, doing this review makes me kinda sad. "Why did SSX have to die?" and "why are there never any good 'extreme' sports games anymore?" were some of the sentences that flowed through my mind while I was playing SSX On Tour, because the game is pretty awesome. For those among you who aren't aware of the SSX franchise, it's basically the snowboarding equivalent of Tony Hawk from last-gen. The series wasn't very popular until SSX 3 came along, followed on after by SSX On Tour which is surprisingly the game I'll be talking about in just a second. After that, some average Wii game was released under the name and the series died. Shame really. Anywho, let's talk about happier things and get on with this review...
I'm a big fan of SSX, despite my hate of sports games in general (then again, this could be classed as an 'extreme' sports game). With the series, EA have created some games so addictive and re-playable that they still hold out to this day, and I'd consider On Tour the very best on par with SSX 3. The basic concept is that you, a lone human being chucked into the snowboarding universe, must rise up in popularity and turn from an unheard of regular into a snowboarding god. You do this by completing various tasks on your board in the form of Shreds and Tournaments. The Shred challenges involve various different tasks taking place on different parts of a huge mountain. These tasks could be anything from racing against another boarder to reaching the finish line without getting busted by the 'ski-patrol'. They're all pretty varied, and even though they're repeated quite a bit it never gets repetitive thanks to the harder ones being set in other areas of the mountain. There's also almost 200 Shreds in total, so you'll be spending hours trying to complete them all. The tournaments are much bigger levels split into three different types of event; Freestyle, Pipe and Race. Freestyle challenges have you riding down the mountain attempting to both reach the finish line and beat a set score at the same time. Pipe is essentially the same, but much smaller and set on a half-pipe (allowing for some pretty ridiculous combos). Racing is self-explanatory. All in all, SSX On Tour is a pretty big game, even if it is a little repetitive.
The main objective of the game is pretty simple. By completing Shreds and Tournaments, your player earns something called Shred Hype. This hype adds to a total and places you on a leader-board made up of all the other boarders and ski-ers taking on the perilous mountain. Despite the kinda repetitive nature of the Shreds and Tournaments, your playthrough will always be different as some challenges disappear after you complete other stuff. There's a nice page of statistics that can be accessed too, letting you know how many challenges you've completed. Of course, before you begin all these wild challenges you'll need to create a character to represent yourself. At first, this isn't very deep at all with only a few clothes on offer, and to be honest, the customisation aspect of the game really isn't that deep at all. Thankfully, you can spend your hard-earned cash on some better threads later on. Speaking of money, there's a lot to be bought in SSX On Tour. A couple of shops can be accessed from the hub world, which is essentially just a map where you can select challanges to compete in and places to buy stuff. There's 3 different shops, each specifying in different types of items. The Clothing shop sells gear for your character to wear, the Barbers specify in messing with your hair, and the Snowboarding shop sells attributes (upgrades for your character) and the most important items of all: Snowboards (or skis if you picked that option).
The most important thing in gaming has always been gameplay, so how does that hold out in SSX's last hurrah? Pretty well actually. It's a bit like the old Tony Hawk engine, except you perform tricks by holding different combinations of buttons instead of entering commands. Holding a direction or two on the D-Pad gets your character ready for a flip before jumping, and pushing the C-Stick up or down while on the ground allows your Boarder to perform a manual. There isn't as wide a range of tricks here, but there really doesn't need to be. Where the gameplay differs from that of it's skateboarding rival (back then anyway...) is the special meter. At the bottom of the screen you'll see a meter that is filled up by performing tricks. Once the meter is full, it turns gold and the player is able to perform some pretty ridiculous special tricks by holding the C-Stick in certain directions while air-bound. These special tricks apparently "defy the laws of the space-time continuum", but they really just slow down time and pan the camera round your player, as well as scoring massive points. And that's basically it! SSX On Tour offers some pretty good gameplay, all in all.
In the end SSX On Tour is a very accomplished game with few flaws, but I do have a large niggle with the title that you may or may not disagree with. That niggle would be the game's soundtrack. Sure, there's some nice tunes here and there, but when you compare it to past SSX games (SSX
SSX On Tour is one of the best sports game of last generation, and it's certainly a title worth picking up. The game's available on multiple platforms, but the Gamecube version is the best thanks to an exclusive area called 'Nintendo Village' and the ability to play as Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach in the game's Quick Play option. If you're into these sorts of games and have something to play SSX On Tour on, by all means buy it!
Can I just mention also that I couldn't find any good images for this review, so we''ll just have to stick with text. Sowwey!