SSX On Tour PlayStation 2
Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports BIG
Release Date: Out Now
SSX On Tour, an introduction.
Whilst there have been a few snowboarding games over the years the firm favourite amongst gamers has always been the SSX series. The reason for this of course is that the SSX games were designed for gamers to have fun. The series has always been easy to pick up and difficult to put down and the latest game in the series, SSX On Tour, is no exception to this.
What's the game about?
SSX On Tour offers a career mode, known as The Tour and a Quick Play mode. The Tour mode allows you to create your own character and participate in a range of events as you bid to take your character from the bottom of the pile to the top of the rankings table. Quick Play basically allows you to play against the AI or a friend using either your character from The Tour mode or one of the characters you've unlocked (by defeating them) in The Tour mode. There are 15 characters but only four are initially available. You can pick the event you want and even alter the rules for the event, if you want to.
What's good about the game?
The main plus point for fans of the series is that SSX On Tour is not simply more of the same. On creating your player in The Tour mode, you'll be given a choice of picking a career using a board or skis. Whilst your choice doesn't really affect how the game handles, it's great that you have the choice because aesthetically, it does give the tricks more variation. Your character will start off with fairly poor skills but the early events (which are a varied mix of races, trick events and a mix of the two) are very easy and essentially act as a gentle method of shoe-horning you into the game without the need of a tutorial, which actually works very nicely. The game is set on one mountain but the events take place in many different environments which have been skillfully constructed as to allow for a variety of shortcuts, which you'll need to be fully aware of in the more challenging events. As you'd expect you'll be able to purchase better gear, tricks and attributes as the game progresses. The Tour mode alone should keep you busy for months.
The SSX series has always been about making it easy to perform spectacular tricks and SSX On Tour makes the whole trick performing process even easier by simply requiring you to hold the right analogue stick in a given direction to perform a trick. Of course to do more elaborate tricks you'll have to use other controls (such as pressing down on the d-pad to perform a loop) but overall, performing tricks is a very comfortable process and this ease of use allows you to get on with enjoying the game. Performing tricks will fill your boost meter and boost can be used to give you a temporary increase in speed so it's doubly important that the tricks are so straightforward to perform. The controls are excellent and feel very responsive which again makes the game very easy to pick up play. If you haven't played a game of this nature before then SSX On Tour is definitely the game to begin with.
What's not so good about the game?
The only real complaint with SSX On Tour is that it's not exactly comprehensive when it comes to the multiplayer side of things. SSX 3 on the PlayStation 2 had an online mode but there's no online play in SSX On Tour which does seem a little strange. There is a 2-player split screen mode for those who want to face human opposition but primarily the game is a single-player game and it is here where its strengths lie.
How does it look?
SSX On Tour is easily the best looking game in the series. The menus and loading screens etc. are adorned with animated versions of the kind of wild doodles (literally black ink sketches on a plain white background) you'd find on a teenager's school book which may seem silly but actually looks quite appropriate for the game. The graphics in the main game look very good and are in keeping with previous SSX titles. I did find the character models had a washed out kind of look to them and are probably not as detailed as they could have been. A soft motion blur effect appears around the edge of the screen when your character is moving at speed and it's a subtle motion blur that looks a lot better than the usual motion blur effects that you see in racing games. If you've played previous SSX games you'll be accustomed to the odd frame rate dip here and there, but I'm pleased to say I've not experienced this in SSX On Tour which is excellent given that the graphics are actually improved. You will notice a small amount of graphical pop-up from time to time which is unfortunate but overall the game looks and performs very nicely.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Whilst not all the speech in SSX On Tour is subtitled, the game won't cause deaf gamers any problems. All of the important information in the game is shown in text. Control tips are shown in text on loading screens and you can access a Tips section in The Tour mode which gives you text instructions for all of the tricks and game concepts. During the actual events there are some announcer comments that aren't subtitled and the AI characters will make the occasional comments and these aren't subtitled. This doesn't really matter though and had they been subtitled, the subtitles would probably have just been in the way which would make no sense seeing as the comments don't add anything to the experience.
SSX On Tour may not have online play and may be primarily a single-player game but it's still the best in the series to date. The game is the easiest in the series to pick up and play, which is saying something given how popular the other three games in the series have been. It is a shame that no online mode has been included but to be honest this is a great single-player game and doesn't need the addition of an online mode to make the game more appealing (although it would have been nice of course). The game is a must for SSX fans and should definitely be experienced by everyone else.
Overall Game Rating: 9.0/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
(Click the letter or here for details)
SSX On Tour offers a refined SSX experience that surpasses any of the previous titles in the series.