SSX: On Tour
SSX returns to show us the up side of winter just as we were beginning to bemoan the weather taking a turn for the worse. SSX On Tour provides essentially the same game as the previous SSX 3 outing with a few additional tweaks. However, it is the aesthetic style of the game that has had a major overhaul. The style is very simplific containing black & white stick drawings of a variety of souped-up creatures and boarders. The opening sequence is impressive as these creations spring to life and tear up the powder all set to "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden. The in-game menus follow a similar theme, with a stick drawing style of various boarders, monsters, unicorns or a combination of all of the above, being plastered all over. You will either find these visuals original, abstract and a product of ingenuity which adds to the feel of the game or you will feel that they are tiresome and a lazy attempt at putting some graphics together.
The game itself follows directly on from its predecessor SSX 3 rather than the outlandish SSX Tricky. There is a real feel to the slopes rather than having improbable course designs that would never exist in the real world. New additions to the game-play immediately become apparent, first with the ability to customise your own boarder as you join the SSX Tour. This is obviously widely incorporated in other EA Sports titles but makes its debut with SSX. Secondly, you can also customise your own skier, that's right you can now strap two bits of wood to your feet instead of one as your launch yourself into the heavens! For the most part both the board and the ski's control in exactly the same way. The difference being that you can find yourself skiing backwards down a vertical mountain into the abyss below. To avoid soiling yourself, a cheeky upward jab of the right analog stick will revert you forward again. Now you can see what you are going to crash into.
The game-play from here on in is very familiar from the previous SSX titles with a couple of main exceptions. Whilst you jump, grab, boost & tweak your board in the same way as you have done in the past, UBER tricks are now performed by pushing the right analog stick once you have built up enough boost rather than simply tweaking. This is not as easy to do but something that you get used to. You can now also tuck your rider to increase speed on the slope and perform handplants on railings to increase points in freestyle mode and keep your combinations going.
Whilst on the SSX Tour your aim is to build up your exposure or "hype" to the rest of the snowboarding slackers in order to climb the rankings. To do this you take part in a number of "shred" challenges, one-on-ones and competitions. By winning these challenges you increase your ranking, unlock courses & riders for the arcade mode and earn cash which buys new equipment that will aid your riders attributes. As usual the individual challenges include the racing mode & freestyle mode but also further challenges to collect items from the slopes, perform handplants and grind the rails. As always in the series, the visuals as you plummet down the mountain are excellent.
This is another excellent addition the SSX stable. Whilst you miss out on being not only able to explore new peaks as in SSX 3, the newer features of SSX on Tour add to your options as you traverse the peak and the new visuals bring more of a clique feel to the latest outing for powder heads.
SSX: On Tour is available on: Gamecube, PS2 and Xbox
8 out of 10