20 November 2009

SSX: On Tour

Take to the powder

SSX: On Tour is a fantastic game... but scratch beneath the surface veneer and it’s definitely an evolution rather than revolution. Yet you’d be forgiven for assuming the latter. First up is the new skiing option. There are those in the boarding fraternity that can’t abide their cousins on skis and imagine that the introduction of the two-footers into their extreme sports games tantamount to collaboration with the enemy. But apart from shelving this outdated view (hey - we all love the snow, dude), whichever you choose, the controls and results are broadly the same.

In a snide move, EA makes you pick your discipline at the start - boarder or skier - and won’t let you mix it up as you progress on the tour. It’s a cheap shot at replayability and totally unnecessary in our opinion. The main differences are that skiers tend to go faster but have fewer tricks to pull off. But their animations are that much more spectacular and they quickly become our favorite way of carving up the slopes.
Surprisingly this means that the core gameplay difference is Monster Tricking using the right analogue stick. Activated when your power bar is maxed out, it slows down your character mid-air and lets you "bust phat stylze" against stunning backdrops. And they do look amazing, giving you the time to put together more complex combos whilst admiring your handiwork at the same time.

Nonetheless, this is mostly familiar stuff for us crrrazy SSX veterans. Although On Tour is noticeably quicker, with longer draw distances and significantly improved runs. You genuinely feel like you’re tricking your way through uncharted territory towards the top of the peak and awesome snow playgrounds at the bottom, all packed with limitless opportunities for making combos and pulling off stunning jumps.

The replay value doesn’t derive from choosing to complete On Tour on boards and then skis, or trying to become whatever the hell a mountain rockstar is - it's the sheer number of secret runs, death-defying jumps and the thrilling attempts to combo between areas that'll make you plough down the mountains again and again and again. This is a bigger, more beautiful, quicker SSX, jam-packed with 'sicker', 'iller' and 'doper' runs - and through the sheer quantity of those runs alone we give this the nod for veterans, as well as piste virgins.


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