SSX Blur Wii
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: EA Sports BIG
Release Date: Out Now
Fans of the SSX series that have been fortunate enough to pick up a Wii console must have been thrilled with the thought of SSX Blur. The idea of combining one of the most popular extreme sports series with the motion sensing control scheme of the Wii certainly seems like an exciting one. For the most part SSX Blur is enjoyable and the control scheme works well for the most part too, although you'll need to invest a fair amount of time in getting used to it as it's very different to anything you will have experienced in previous games in the series.
If you've played previous titles in the series you'll know exactly what to expect from SSX Blur. The game is set on a mountain that has three peaks. Initially you only have access to one of those peaks and in order to unlock the others you'll have to complete a variety of events (Race, Slopestyle, Half-Pipe, Big Air, Slalom and Free Ride etc.). You don't get to create your own character, which is a little disappointing, but there is a nice collection of characters you can choose to play and they all have their own weaknesses and strengths. The game offers a Career, Multiplayer and Quick Play game modes.
Whilst the content of the game may not be much different from what you're used to with the SSX series, the control system is definitely quite unlike anything you would have experienced before. SSX Blur makes use of not only the Wii remote but also the nunchuk attachment. The analogue stick on the nunchuk is used to accelerate and brake. Flicking the nunchuk upwards will make your character jump. Leaning the nunchuk to the side will make your character carve down the slopes and this control is also used for grinding rails. Tricks are carried out by moving the Wii remote (the nunchuk is also used for grabs). The trick system feels OK although until you're completely comfortable with it, it simply feels like you're moving the Wii remote around in a completely random fashion.
As well as the normal tricks you have Ubertricks. The Ubertricks are rather fiddly. Basically you'll need to fill your groove meter by doing tricks and once it's full you'll be able to perform an Ubertrick. When you're airborne you'll see icons that show you what Ubertricks you can carry out. In order to do an Ubertrick you'll need to hold down the A button and draw the image with the Wii remote. It's a fiddly process to say the least (they don't always work for me) and it's one you'll need to master if you want to progress to the later stages of the game. You'll only start off with a limited amount of Ubertricks but by collecting Uber Icons, you'll acquire many more. In fact there are many items to be unlocked in the game such as the two peaks, extra characters, items and more.
If there's a major grumble I have with SSX Blur it's that the game lacks a good tutorial. Rather than having a fully fleshed out tutorial that gently introduces you to the unique control scheme you simply pick a section from the tutorial menu and then, after reading some basic text instructions, have a go at trying to do the manoeuvre. It's a very dry approach that doesn't do a lot to shoehorn you into the game. The manual also isn't up to much but thankfully it does show you the basics of the control system. It's also a shame the game doesn't offer any online play. The multiplayer mode only offers split-screen (two-player) and hotseat gaming (four-player), which is certainly better than nothing but only if you have friends or relatives who also enjoy the game.
To date the graphics in quite a few of the Wii games have been disappointing. Thankfully the SSX Blur doesn't follow this trend and actually looks quite nice. As befitting the SSX series, the game uses a bright and colourful palette. The graphics do have a cartoon style, which is slightly different from previous games, but it suits the mood of the game quite nicely. The character models all look and animate quite nicely. It's a rather nice touch that when they fail to land properly, and crash into the snow, they are caked in snow when they get to their feet. The game's load times are quite reasonable and the frame rate is pretty decent too, although you will notice it dip on the odd occasion. The general presentation of the game is fine and it's good that you can use the Wii remote as a pointer to navigate the menus.
SSX Blur is fine for deaf gamers. There's some radio chatter and announcer comments that aren't subtitled but aside from these omissions, everything else is fine. All of the tutorials are delivered exclusively via text. All other information in the game is either shown in text or via the use of icons. Loading screens display general tips in text, although to be quite honest the tips that are shown are pretty much common sense and will be of little value to most.
Whilst SSX Blur is certainly an enjoyable game that fans of the series will probably like, you can't help but feel it could have been better. The lack of an online multiplayer mode is unfortunate. The control scheme takes some getting used to thanks to a poor tutorial system and perseverance is called for if you want to appreciate what the game has to offer. The Ubertrick system is the one aspect of the game that most will have problems with and whether or not you enjoy SSX Blur really depends on how you get on with the Ubertrick system. Make no mistake about it, SSX Blur is a good addition to the series but it's fair to say that the control system is an acquired taste and while some will appreciate it, others will dislike it.
Put the effort in to adjusting to the unique control system and you'll find SSX Blur to be an enjoyable experience. The Ubertrick system is fiddly though and could have been better.