View Full Version : Game Review: SSX On Tour (PSP)

March 19th, 2007, 12:11
SSX On Tour
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA BIG
Genre: Sports
Players: 1-4
Reviewed on PSP by gdf

SSX is the Snowboard series. First appearing on PS2 in 2000, it has grown and changed over the years, dominating the snowboarding corner of the extreme sports genre virtually unchallenged. On Tour is the latest, appearing on the creaky old PS2, Xbox and PSP. After the brilliant predecessor SSX3, many expected this to be the be all and end all of boarding games, and though it is solid and competent, it doesn't quite measure up to this expectation. Some of the magic has been lost and the title is misleading- the whole game takes place on the same mountain- don't expect to be hurtling down the French Alps one minute and snapping your neck on Mt. Everest the next.

On Tour has made some additions to the franchise; it is the first game to include skiing and there are more challenges to do. Skiing is fun for the first ten minutes but seems to fade when you realise it is exactly the same as boarding. The tricks work in the same way, the characters are the same, the speed is the same, the designs are the same, the levels are the same and the handling is...you guessed it, the same. This poses a problem as all skiing really brings to the game is more challenges, all of which are mirror images of the boarding ones. It is like a driving game claiming to have 50 tracks, but really there are just 25 reversed. Thankfully the handling is good all round anyway, so at least the game isn’t twice as long and a bitch to play at the same time.

The controls work surprisingly well on the handheld. Cross is crouch/jump, Circle and Square are trick buttons and Triangle is the modifier. To flip you press the D-Pad like in SSX of old. This actually works better than on PS2, where EA's bumming of the right analog has led to a poorly implemented "Trick Stick". On paper this sounds more natural, but series veterans will be put off by the fiddlyness and are better off playing on the portable. Unfortunately, the absence of four shoulder buttons on PSP has led to the boost being mapped to Square, so even a tiny lift off the ground could send your protagonist rolling off a cliff because they tried to do a 180 Stalefish three inches in the air.

The boarding itself hasn't changed much, which can be seen as a relief. There is little better than bombing down a mountain at 90 miles per hour, trees rushing past and only your pure, concentrated skill stopping you ramming into one. When this game works, it works beautifully. There are times when you will feel nothing else, hear nothing else and see nothing else; undiluted gaming Zen, but given the skill of this particular reviewer, that headfirst tree-rape comes a little too often! On a more serious note, it has to be said that there are too many tracks. Wait...don't criticise me for saying this. SSX3 had three parts to a single mountain, with a few secret routes here and there. You could, with some practice, learn the course inside out and choose your own way down, knowing where to go next. On Tour has loads of separate courses, none of which are particularly memorable, so finding that personal route is hard to achieve. You may recognise a course, but you won't be able to go the same way time and time again, honing your skills to a knife edge. With this lost, it is all too often that the hardened SXX fan will lose on the easiest difficulty for the seventieth just because they didn't know where to go next.

The visuals in OT are quite impressive, though not outstanding. Motion blur is well done and really adds to that sense of speed as the screen melts in your face. The snow looks really good when it puffs and whooshes out from the board, and you can really feel like Mr Cool cruising down the mountain with a trail of sparkling snow behind you (Sorry if that sounds a bit gay). Character models are fine, but on close inspection can look a bit ropey. The soundtrack is impressive, featuring a raft of great bands. The playlist is customisable too, so if you think a song sucks, you can simply refuse to ever let it piss in your beautiful ears again. The sheer amount of music that has been jammed onto the UMD is amazing, as there is at least an iPod Shuffle's worth of tuneage here.

This review may have sounded harsh, but that is only because the series has offered so much more in the past. Number three was easily the best snowboard game ever, so On Tour is really a bit of a disappointment. It is by no means a bad game, don't get me wrong. It is solid, fun, and well made. Series newbies will love it and enjoy every last minute, but for those of us who have played the previous titles it is slightly flat. If you are buying SSX on PS2, go for the previous instalment, which can now be found for fewer than ten notes. For PSP owners hankering for some mountainside action there is no other option, so buy this if you must. Actually, you probably should buy it on PSP, as it is a rather good game and is actually better than the Home console version. Doing bad-ass combos in the air and speeding down mountains is always fun and is well represented here, it's just a shame it never lived up to the hype. Given the repetitiveness of the competitions it also has little replay value, but it is long enough to be just about a worthy purchase. Worth a look.

Replay Value 3/5 Too repetitive to be worth another proper go.
Sound 4.5/5 Good soundtrack and impressive amount of music.
Graphics 3/5 Occasionally ropey, but usually good enough.
Gameplay 4/5 Some flashes of genius, mostly solid.

Good fun, but could have been so much more. Try before you buy.

March 19th, 2007, 13:15
As usual, another great review. I havent touched SSX since the PS2 era..probably second installment.

March 19th, 2007, 13:49
lol, as i say it's worth a look. probs better to get ssx3 though, it's miles better!

March 20th, 2007, 13:15
sorry, there won't be any more reviews from me for at least a week, my laptop broke and has to be taken away...i'm typing at school right now.

March 29th, 2007, 13:30
just got it back, expect a review tonight or tomorrow night.