SSX On Tour Review

The SSX series is one-of-a-kind, one part racing and one part extreme sports, all mixed with plenty of snow. One of the biggest series for the Playstation 2, it was only a matter of time before SSX boarded its way onto the PSP. Well, fanboys and fangirls, the prayers have been answered and the wait is over. Was it worth it? Yes! “SSX On Tour” brings the high-quality graphics, sounds, and gameplay we’ve come to expect from the franchise. Although the game suffers from a few shortcomings with clipping issues and a slightly confusing monster trick system, “SSX On Tour” lives up to the high quality expectations set by previous SSX games.

“SSX On Tour” is a beautiful game. Upon first booting up the game, SSX introduces us to Rock 101. For those who’ve played any of the previous SSX games, you know you’re in for something different. The loading screens and menus all look like they’ve been ripped right out of some teenage rocker’s sketch book. UFO’s and odd creatures share the pages with boarders and mountains. The general art style outside of the game is worth its’ own mention, as it’s unique and a joy in itself.

The game itself contrasts the rough, tripped-out look of the menu with softer pastels of the mountain. Though there are a few night city runs with the classic blacks, dark blues, and the neon lights, the game primarily focuses on the openness of the mountains. The light effects are great, the sun bouncing a warm soft glow from the snow, the lens flare effect is used liberally and just at the right times. The game’s warm feeling is an interesting contrast to the cold snow.

The real annoyance with the graphics is that your skier/snowboarder will suffer minor clipping and camera issues. Once in a while, you may go through a corner of a turn, and on some jumps, the camera will be simply too close to your boarder, resulting in the inability to judge the landing visually. On a few occasions my minor clipping and camera issue also meant falling through the level’s wall for a split second. This was rare, and often occurred while falling into a tunnel or a similar obstacle. The game camera itself was the biggest annoyance in this situation, as it fell through the walls with the boarder. The glitches, while distracting, don’t detract terribly from the gameplay.

With headphones on, “SSX On Tour” provides a great audio experience. The game is just as fun played with the music on or off. Although a few of the EA Pocket Trax have been reused (one that particularly sticks out is Billy Talent’s Red Flag which was used in Burnout Legends), the music focuses on rock, both new and classic. Hot Hot Heat shares space on the soundtrack with the likes of Iron Maiden and Dio.

EA Trax has always been a love it or hate it sort of thing, but if you’re into rock, then you’ll be right at home, if not, you’ll most likely finding yourself just turning the music off and enjoying the sounds of the mountain. Not that that’s a bad thing either. The sound effects are great, ranging from the gentle sound of snow under your snowboard to the whistling of the air as you speed down the slopes. The subtleness of the sounds adds to the over all peaceful experience. Without the music on, you might even forget you’re in a middle of a race.

If you played SSX 3 for the PS2, you will recognize some parts of the tracks, if not whole tracks. My memory may be short, but some of the more unique portions of the tracks are a dead giveaway that some of these tracks were simply picked up and ported onto the PSP. Not that I’m complaining, as those were well designed tracks, but I’m sure most SSX veterans were looking for new content to bring with them on the PSP.

The tracks themselves feature endless possibilities for boarders, as there are many paths down the same mountain. Coupled with three modes of play, races, slope style, and big air competitions, “SSX On Tour” has some great replay value. You may not play through On Tour mode over and over, but picking up the game to do a few races on your coffee break is an easy and fun way to waste away 10 minutes on the run.

The introduction of skiing into the SSX franchise is a smooth one. Skis play similarly to snowboards, but are different enough as not of feel like snowboarding with different animations. The controls are identical but the look and small play style differs, particularly the slightly higher recovery times with skiers in comparison of the snowboarders. The skiing portion of the game is usually independent of the snowboarding game, but there are several instances in the game where you may see skiers competing against snowboarders for the gold.

The trick system at its core is very simple, and anyone who’s played “Tony Hawk”-type games or any of the previous SSX games should be able to pick up the controls easily. “Uber” tricks have been renamed “On Tour” tricks, but basically work the same way as the old SSX games. Pulling off the monster tricks on the other hand will take a little more time. You will be left to your own devices to figure out how to pull off the monster tricks, and if time is not readily available for experimentation, you will most likely be forced to scour game guides and forums for answers. Some portions of the point based will force you to pull off those monster tricks if you want a gold medal, and many casual gamers will probably be left fuming over this.

The character creation is extremely basic and when compared to games such as “Tiger Woods” and “Tony Hawk Underground 2 Remix,” comes out flat. There are about 4 possibilities for faces, two male and two female. As you continue to play On Tour mode, you will unlock new clothing sets, snowboard, and skis that will raise your skills and change your look, but that’s about it. It’s not a major issue, but it is a let-down when compared to the level of customization from other PSP games, or even its PS2 predecessor, “SSX 3.”

“SSX On Tour” is a satisfying way to bring the franchise onto the PSP. Although a few minor issues with clipping and the camera mixed with the mysterious monster trick system and a flat character creation and customization system plague the game, their effects on the overall quality of the game is very low, resulting in a visually pleasing game back up with some great sound and the type of Gameplay expected from any SSX game.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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