Video game console
After selecting from one of the four initially available racers, you must race against a full field of opponents down long, twisting, and sometimes gravity- and physics-defying courses. What makes SSX a standout from similar games is Electronic Arts' amazing attention to detail. The tracks show much variety in their outrageous twists, bumps, jumps, and ramps. However, to utilize them best, you must perform potentially backbreaking, neck-snapping tricks. Okay, you actually won't suffer any physical damage, but the cartoony falls do look rather painful.
The tricks are done by successfully performing complex button-mashing and joystick-twisting combs. The more and better the tricks you perform, the higher a speed boost you'll get to help you finish a track quickly. In order to progress through all of the rounds in World Circuit mode (the meat of the game), you must place at least third in each race. Successful completion of races also can unlock new characters and snowboards--each with dramatic performance differences. It might look somewhat similar to Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or other snow games, but SSX is a totally different take.
SSX's illusion of speed is simply fantastic. Should you manage to take your eyes off your well-animated racer to check out the scenery, you'll see bright lighting effects, cheering crowds, lots of snow spray, and a wide variety of background visuals that hint at the PS2's graphics prowess. It's also that same sense of speed that delivers a great feeling of accomplishment when your board lands safely on the snow pack after you complete a complex trick that was performed absurdly high in the air.
Almost all of SSX's animations are as smooth as glass. There's minor slowdown when you turn through some of the larger hills, but this is barely noticeable and rarely interferes with gameplay. The bumping soundtrack changes on the fly, and is based on your performance. The better your tricks and speed, the wilder and more up-tempo the music gets. All of the enormous courses--some of which can take close to 10 minutes to finish--have many shortcuts and alternate routes to cut into your finishing time.
One gripe with the game is that your character, after painfully crashing into cold hard snow, sometimes start moving will in the exact opposite direction that you were racing originally. This eats up time and is irritating, but definitely not a huge problem. --Mark Brooks