Not a review: SSX
The original SSX was a game that came out around the time I started college. A couple of stoners in the dorm right next to mine had a PS2 and enough money to buy all the big games that were coming out shortly after launch, and SSX quickly became a crowd favorite whenever there was a break in homework and the depressing kind of college binge drinking.
Everybody liked the game because it was so easy to pick it up, and even if you weren't nailing 1st place finishes right away, the basic controls lent themselves to quickly being able to shred your way down the mountain and maybe even pull off some completely ridiculous tricks along the way. I don't remember falling off the mountain or getting stuck in some position where I couldn't advance very well because a quick press of the select button would set you right back along your way. The focus was on momentum.
It was just damn fun. Everyone in our corner of the dorms pretty much constantly had "it's tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that's right on time. It's tricky" stuck in their heads 24/7.
This reboot can pretty much be summed up by the all-too-frequent experience of spotting a jump, boosting and winding up in preparation for a huge, spinny trick with an absolutely ridiculous amount of air, nailing a helicopter mid-jump and instantly earning Tricky status, and then unavoidably falling off the side of the mountain rather than landing somewhere on the track.
But it's not even over there. I can't just say, "Well that sucks... the course seems specifically designed to have me do exactly that, but I guess I'll stay glued to the ground where's it's safe from now on," and press select, kill my momentum, spawn nearby, and continue on my merry way. Rather, I have to hold the rewind button for however long it took for my spectacular failure to play out, watch everything in reverse, and wait until a moment where I have enough control over my past, naively thrill-seeking self's actions so that I can avoid the jump and steer toward safety.
The punishment for trying to have fun on a course where the developers are strictly discouraging it depends on the type of course you're playing on:
In "Race It," the ghosts continue speeding forward during all of this, meaning that a jump that took 10 seconds from setup to the realization that you're going to crash will give them around a 20-second advantage. And doomed jumps do often take 10 seconds or more to get to that point.
In "Trick It," a negative point counter starts from the moment you hit rewind, turning the bonus you were supposed to receive for the ridiculous chain of tricks you pulled off prior to your botched super-uber into a penalty, multiplied by whatever score multiplier you've build up from doing well up until now.
In "Survive It," you only get three rewinds before your rider's death is permanent, and there's a little bit of leeway on the rewind count in case you let go early only to find that your doom was foretold long before you started winding up for your jump. On some of the more stupidly designed jumps, you can go back and forth in time nearly indefinitely, using one rewind to set up a ridiculously precise alternate timeline to prevent your demise.
The rewind system is clearly designed around "Survive It" courses - and to a degree, it works there. The problem is that the race, trick, and survival courses are all the exact same tracks, just with different goals. So essentially, on the same course where you're forgiven for up to three mistakes on "Survive It," the run's over instantly on the other two.
The competitions for getting better and better times or better and better scores are both eclipsed by the relentless gravitational pull of bottomless pits.
The earlier games always found a way to keep up the forward momentum, but in this one, there's a button for backwards momentum, and some levels make a little too much use out of it.
I feel like there should be more warning that an obvious jump highlighted by a flare is only a good idea if you hit it from exactly one angle, like there shouldn't be a million ways to fall off the mountain from something that radiates "Oh snap, this is huge! Shit is about to get fun!" from a distance. I feel like the focus of the game should be more on finding paths that carry you through courses faster for races, or paths that offer the most air for style competitions. Rather, so much of the game is spent focusing on not dying, on restarting the run, on watching load screens, on jumping out of the chopper once again, on learning how to follow a single, narrow path that will minimize your chances of having to restart.
In short, the majority of "Explore Mode" discourages exploration. Good job, EA.
Posted by JonLacksAnH
on 08 February 15 at 18:24
| There are no comments on this blog - Please log in to comment on this blog.