I’ll admit it. I’m a total noob in SSX. I only played one of the previous games a little, but couldn’t get used to the controls. Tony Hawk was in my fingers way too much while SSX differed quite a lot from that. Too bad, as I heard a lot of good about the snowboard games.
With SSX Blur EA must have though “a new console, a new chance to get our Rian hooked” and right they were! How could it not be? The game is put together from the best parts of the previous titles added with well worked out controls and a couple of new elements. Like snowballs although those don’t add much. Really.
As one of twelve available characters you put on your snowboard gloves. Many known names have returned (Mac, Elise, …) but also a couple of newcomers are present. They’re all branded with stats in four categories: speed, boost, edge and trick. This is certainly a lot less than in previous games but makes choosing a lot easier. Lifting a stat with one point doesn’t really change the experience, but after a couple you do notice that your character starts to move a bit smoother. Each has his or her own maximum which makes some better for racing while others are best chosen for tricks.
Three moutnains are available, on which events are present in different categories. Next to racing for the first place and a slopestyle match where you need to get the highest points there’s also slalom, big air and half pipes. Especially the slalom can lead to some aggrevation since you have to slow down a lot. Some more distance between the flags wouldn’t have hurt. If you descend in the freeride mode quite a lot of challenges await you though. This can be a head-to-head fight with the other character, or a certain mission a la x-amount of stars or getting y-thousand points. Fulfilling the challenges gives new boards that also alter the stats of the character a bit.
I’m not completely satisfied with the controls. The basics are good, turning with the nunchuck while the joystick gives a little more control of that. Leaning back makes your character slow down and shaking up makes him/her jump. Once in the air you can use the Wii-more to do tricks. “Shaking” horizontally and vertically decide the type of movement. Next to that the nunchuck can also be used to influence the direction of your spin. Still, it’s quite unclear which swing delivers which move and you’ll start thinking in terms of shaking a lot or little just to make sure you don’t fall on your face.
By doing stunts correctly the ubermeter gets filled and the higher it gets, the more advanced moves you can do with the same swing. As soon as two blocks are filled you can also do ubertricks. For this you need to press A while in the air and draw a figure. The standard forms are a Z (Zorro anyone?), a heart and a knot. Others can be unlocked during a freeride. Unfortunately these ubers aren’t always detected and often you’ll get to see a different one from the figure you have drawn. Some are more easily detected than others so you’ll quickly end up using only those successful ones.
The surroundings look pretty cool although they’re hard to judge at time. The mountains are covered with a thick layer of snow and often there’s little else to see when it comes to textures. A couple of times the image started to shake so I hope this wasn’t the graphical ceiling from the Wii that was getting reached. Best to postpone that for a couple of years from now
The music has quite a big role in SSX Blur and the better you play, the more active it will become. Unfortunately this is again a mix of the best from the previous editions but that doesn’t mean it’s bad of course.
Many reviews seem to give this game bad points due to the controls but I won’t follow that. They’re challenging and it will take some time to get used to them. What I do hold against the game are the often badly placed spawnpoints, buggy rails and tracks and the fact that you can’t really see the “edge” of the mountains. If you go too far, you suddenly get stopped and will be placed back on a bad location.