debuting with the PS2 back in 2000, the SSX series
has created an avalanche which has wiped out the competition.
Once at the peak of their popularity series such as
Cool Boarders and Nintendo's own 1080 Snowboarding
found themselves covered under a mountain of white
stuff due to the powder flying off the boards of EA's
SSX. Well, maybe that's not exactly how things played
out but it all makes for an interesting opening paragraph.
On Tour continues the shreddin' attitude and over
the top arcade gameplay that kicked into high gear
with last years game and continues that tradition.
From the moment the intro sequence zooms onto the
screen to the tune of Iron Maiden's Run To The Hills,
you'll instantly know SSX On Tour is attempting to
cover some new ground. I'll give EA some props - I
can't believe someone over there decided to pay for
some heavy metal music royalties. I can only assume
EA has already used every single rap tune ever made
or they couldn't find a hip hop tune that could even
be remotely related to skiing or snowboarding. "Run
To The Hills"....ski hills that is. Talk about
a weak connection. But at the very least it's different.
And so is SSX On Tour; but in a good way.
art direction of the games presentation is so off
the wall - littered with stoner-type doodles - that
immediately you get the "Wild On" vibe.
This is a party on a hill. Perhaps we should
run to it.... While On Tour's menu presentation is
insanely fun to look at, the actual game is crisp
but doesn't manage to best SSX 3's slicker artisitic
direction. The action still takes place on one mountain
which is littered with shortcuts and other paths for
you to investigate. The character animations are topnotch
(especially during the newly titled Monster Tricks)
while the real stars of the show happen to be the
little extras like falling snow, spraying powder and
cool effects lighting.
heart of the game is of course the On Tour mode, which
functions as a career mode. Gone is the emphasis placed
on celeb voices and whacky characters (although you'll
see quite a few familiar faces); On Tour allows you
to create your own skiier or boarder (you must select
one or the other, they can't be switched willy nilly).
While the create a character feature is pretty simplistic,
it's the On Tour mode that will garner most of your
attention. Since the core of SSX has always been more
about racing to the bottom of the hill rather than
pulling off insane tricks, On Tour doesn't change
things up too much in that department. Boost will
allow you to pull off Monster Tricks which are executed
at the touch of the R analog stick which in effect
takes the challenge out of performing cool stunts,
but as I already said, that's more of a bonus anyway.
The races you'll undertake in On Tour do manage to
keep things fresh by forcing you to complete various
objectives which will test your skills as you speed
down the mountain.
speed down the mountain you will. On Tour boasts by
far the fastest action ever to hit the digital slopes.
It wouldn't even be crazy to insinuate that On Tour
manages to even behave a little like EA's latest acquisition
Burnout, because there are a couple of little flourishes
that you might recognize from Criterion's monster
racing title as you overtake a few lackluster opponents.
Speaking of which you'll be thrilled to notice that
EA Canada managed to allow you the freedom to pretty
much go anywhere, and that includes visiting some
areas of the mountain where other less Xtreme-oriented
winter sports enthusiasts happen to congregate. Have
fun messing with them!
the "Go BIG or Go Home" Dept. astute fans
of SSX 3 (PS2 version) will indeed notice that the
online portion of the game no longer exists. I guess
EA felt that if they couldn't improve the multiplayer
mode, it was best to scrap it. Considering that EA
is literally the king of online, it's puzzling as
to how and why they couldn't manage to improve upon
something that didn't seem to require too much retooling.
Perhaps they're waiting for the next gen titles due
to the enormous size of the mountain. That would make
sense. Split screen still exists and for once, I actually
tried it out - fans who read my stuff will know split
screen and I don't get along. While I found it distracting
to have two completely separate things going on at
once I did manage to note that the visuals were pretty
darn impressive on all systems - save for the Cube
who had some trouble keeping up in both single player
and two player.
fans may have received the short end of the ski pole
in terms of some visual degradation and framerate
but Nintendo purists will once again be able to hit
the slopes with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach who
also were exclusive characters in EA's NBA Street
V3 on the Cube. Please note: The
Nintendo characters are ONLY available in the Cube
version of SSX On Tour. Playing with Mario
and the others is fun, but it's not exactly a dealbreaker.
I'd still recommend either the PS2 or Xbox version
if you have the opportunity.
I lied. Since this is EA you can expect to hear some
hip hop tunes, but the soundtrack does manage to appeal
more to the metal heads than most of their products.
You'll be doing the index finger, pinky heavy metal
salute to Dio, Scorpions and Motorhead. Wow, Motorhead
in a videogame. Bizarre. Speaking of the classic heavy
metal hand gesture, be sure to keep your eyes out
for all sorts of cool doodles on the slopes, dudes.
Sound effects in On Tour is pretty impressive stuff
too, although it's not exactly inspired audio genius
for the soundtech to impress us with a variety of
environmental sounds once your character hits deep
powder, ice, wood etc - but he manages to impress
who are looking for more Tony Hawk style challenges
which are entirely based on skill, might not dig the
On Tour vibe with it's easier than pie trickstylings,
but those who know that it's all about getting to
the bottom first and looking awesome while doing it
will really get into this one. At it's core On Tour
remains extremely faithful to the series and is a
fantastic evolution of SSX 3 without losing site of
where the EA was taking the franchise. If you've finally
forgiven EA for Tricky, it's time to plunk down for
a lift ticket. In fact you might want to...ahem....run
to the hills.