SSX On Tour PS2 Review

May 31, 2010 by  
Filed under PS2, Retro Content, Retro Reviews

The third game in the very accessible SSX series boasted some radical changes, which resulted in the culling of the fantastic tracks, and in their place was an expansive snow-covered mountain. Large playing environments are what many developers have been looking toward, so it was a natural progression for EA’s excellent series. We liked it, but it lacked the immediacy and soul of previous SSX games.

SSX On Tour is the fourth game in the series, and doesn’t bring a whole lot new to the franchise that helped launch the PS2; in fact some would say that the game is a step backwards as the full freedom of the mountain has basically been discarded. Lets face it, radical changes were just never going to happen with this fourth game, but we were always going to be content in challenging another gargantuan mountain anyway.

A concern that began to grow with the release of the third game was that the series was seemingly embracing a more realistic approach opposed to the character driven game that people loved so much. Sadly On Tour feels soulless because of this very reason. The fireworks may be still there in all their visually pleasing glory, but the characters stay pretty much silent and the blinding white snow that used to be broken up by pools of colourful neon light remain mostly a constant path of white. It’s definitely lost some of its appeal in this area, and unfortunately hasn’t got it back since the third game took it away.

Regardless of losing out on important things, SSX has most definitely earned plenty of reasons to keep on playing. The most major fresh addition this time around is the introduction of skiing, which was probably included in a desperate attempt to give players a new way to play SSX. Skiing does indeed bring a slight slant to the slopes and allows you to plummet downhill backwards, although it’s not different enough from the snowboarding, to climb to the top of On Tour’s mountain and yell about it!

The meatiest part of the game is that of the tour mode. Instead of taking control of one of SSX’s classic or fresh faces, you start things out by creating a character (skier or snowboarder) from an embarrassing miniscule set of options and then later buying silly amounts of branded clothing to keep him or her warm. The shop also gives you access to better boards or skis, and new tricks, although like any shop you’ll have to pay up front to earn them.

The Tour mode itself is structured differently from the third game and no longer requires you to free roam the mountain. Whether you are playing in the games tour mode or quick mode a map basically masquerades as a menu, which makes things seem a little untidy, although the amount of racing, tricking and challenges does make up for this to a certain degree.

Racing is still all about pulling off tricks to earn you boost, in turn allowing you to go faster, which looks fantastic this time around it has to be said. Standalone trick events also assure that On Tour is very much an SSX game. Throw in challenges such as grinding a certain amount of marked rails, finding a number of collectibles, staying on the snow as long as possible, catching a required amount of airtime etc, and you have plenty of things to do before reaching that number 1 ranking and proclaiming your ownership of the mountain.

Yes, we still like SSX On Tour very much, but despite the latest being a more featured pack game, SSX Tricky has yet to be bettered. As good as On Tour is, there’s just no immediacy left to the series, even the quick mode leaves you having to go through lists of races and challenges until you find the one that you want. This is made even worse by the lack of any Showoff mode (sadly missing since Tricky!) to quickly jump into, and the absence of any scoreboards to prove who is greatest at each trick event. It’s all as disappointing now as it was with the third game. SSX is still a great and very approachable series, but sadly the lofty standards set by Tricky have as yet to be surpassed.

8/10

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