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SSX: On Tour Review

Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: October 11, 2005 Also On: GCN, PS2, PSP, and Xbox

Gorillas reading books, beavers eating lunch, terribly animated boarders speeding down slopes as a rocked out unicorn plays Iron Maiden riffs. Is this a crazy stoner’s dream? Nay, it’s the goofy, uniquely animated opening to EA’s latest addition to the SSX franchise: SSX: On Tour. Right off the bat, you can tell that this new installment is bound to be a bit different than its predecessors.

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After the oddly entertaining opening described above finishes, you’re thrown into the very simplistic menu consisting of Extra’s (options), Quick Play and The Tour. While the Extra’s menu is rather self-explanatory, the Quick Play option allows you to cruise the slopes as one of the 15 characters you’ve acquired thus far in a free ride single-player mode, or go head-to-head against one of your friends. The Tour option is where all the fun is.

Once you start a new game, you get to create your own character, instead of using one of the series pre-made characters, something that hasn’t been done in the previous SSX’s. Then, you’re free to participate in “shred� challenges, in which you win races, and bust sick tricks in order to build up your hype and get on the tour. After you’re on the tour, you can compete in official events and work up to the number one ranking and become famous. While participating in these events, you can earn money to buy fresh new gear and abilities from the gear shop.

Perhaps the most noticeable addition to the game is what you use to tear up the mountain. You can now choose from either the traditional snowboard or a method foreign to the SSX series: skis. Yes, for the first time, those who wish may blaze down the mountain using a couple of sticks (I prefer the board myself). The controls are basically the same for both of them. The only difference is that you can land either forward or backward when using the skis. If you land backwards, you can swivel yourself around with a simple flick of the right analog stick.

Speaking of which, the right analog stick has now become your new friend for busting out SSX’s signature outrageous airborne tricks. The regular trick controls have stayed the same, using the shoulder buttons to perform different grabs and the square button the tweak them. Do these tricks to build up your boost bar. Your boost bar goes through three colors: green, yellow, and magenta. When the bar is green, all you can do is boost (using the square button), but when the bar is yellow or magenta, you can use the right analog stick to perform sick “Monster� tricks while airborne. Simply tap the stick in the corresponding direction, suddenly time slows down, the camera angles change, and your character is flipping his or her board around themselves in true SSX style. EA also added hand plants, which you can pull off on rails, gaining more points the longer you hold balance; it’s also useful for continuing combos, and getting back onto rails that you’ve missed. These new additions are plenty useful for finding new ways to shred your favorite course.

SSX: On Tour’s snowy environments look quite beautiful on the PS2. Detailed shadows litter the ground as you race through the dark forests, and gorgeous rays of sun illuminate the open snow. Also, when you’re using your boost (or just moving very quickly) the camera zooms in a bit and the edges blur, showing you just how fast you’re moving, making the game come even more to life. The game also sports a diverse and impressive soundtrack. Blasting tracks from Jurassic 5, to Avenged Sevenfold. The music fades out the bigger the air you get, making your height seem all the more impressive. So while SSX: On Tour isn’t as revolutionary as the other installments of the franchise, it offers plenty of fun for gamers that are new to the series and seasoned veterans.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8
Written by Matt Evangelista Review Guide