SSX: Tricky Review
In a frenzy where Metal Gear Solid 2, Xbox and GameCube are launching subsequently, the general public begins to forget about other games such as Burnout, Capcom vs. SNK 2, Half-Life and SSX Tricky. A game like Metal Gear Solid 2 has completely cast a shadow over each and every other game that hovers anywhere around its release date. It's quite unfortunate if I do say so myself, because a AAA title such as SSX Tricky won't be getting the sales it really deserves. You can either blame it on poor marketing or...no wait you really can't blame it on anything else. SSX Tricky is the official sequel to the #1 PS2 game of 2000, SSX. It -SSX Tricky- was originally planned to be a minor upgrade with a few extra features here and there, but eventually as the process led on, the game evolved into what it is today, SSX Tricky. Initially I had this feeling that the game wouldn't offer me new of anything. Sure, the two extra stages and the four new characters are a nice touch, but what is so extraordinary about the game that will make it stand out among its descendant? In my head: taking everything that the original did and overhauling it beyond recognition. Indeed, this deed was done.
Based on second-generation standards, the original SSX would still be considered a wonderful looking title across every platform. As if the first title didn't look fantastic enough, EA has improved the visuals in many areas. For one, the texturing has been polished, as every thing is presented with a more solid and organic look. The backgrounds are sharper than they ever were, each stage features its own unique atmosphere and no two stages are designed alike. Your surroundings are filled with dozens upon dozens of structures such as rails, ramps, trees, and etc. None of these structures present a jagged line, and are quite smooth as far as backgrounds go. The frame rate, even at the toughest stages in the game, now manages to be as stable as can be. Instead of the game slowing down a bit, the frame rate stays constant at a perfect 60 frames. Tricky's rider detail has improved quite dramatically over the originals. Physically, each and every character is well defined. Characters such as Moby now have this lean built, muscular look to them. On top of that, facial expressions have been given to every single rider as well. The graphics have changed and at first it may not seem like anything eye-popping or jaw dropping, but the changes are there and they look good. To top things off, this graphics engine still has its impressive eye-candy and non-existent pop-up; wonderful visual package folks, not much to really complain about.
Let's take everything that SSX did so well, multiply that by three, and you get SSX Tricky! EA has really outdone themselves with 'Tricky. First of all, the game features a deluge of incredible new features. For starters, each and every classic SSX track has been revamped to an extreme extent! Most of these tracks share pretty much nothing in common with their "original" counterparts. It's too hard to compare Snowdream and Elysium Alps to their original forms. EA has completely overhauled each and every track by re-arranging the geometry, topography, routes/pathways and adding a flood of new structures such as rails, ramps and big air jumps. Take my word on it; if it weren't for the game menus identifying the stages for you, you'd swear these are brand new tracks. SSX Tricky easily features the best videogame presentation ever! The main menu is presented in traditional DVD-movie style. You can either choose to play the game, or check out nearly 10 features which include behind the scenes looks at the voice actors, the development of the tracks, the inspiration behind the tricks, a description of SSX Tricky, a behind the scenes look at the soundtrack with Mix Master Mike, and etc. Everything is presented in FMV formatting, as there are dozens and dozens of videos to check out.
The game itself surpasses the original by every figure. With the re-designed tracks, two additional tracks, four new characters, and an all new 3D menu interface, SSX Tricky is a blast from the start. To get things started, Tricky's arsenal of tricks has expanded slightly with the inclusion of Uber tricks. Essentially, Uber tricks are signature moves that each snowboarder has. When your boost meter fills up 100%, you will hear the words "It's Tricky" repeated a couple of times, actually it's a portion from Run DMC's opening theme to the game. Once that happens, you will see a display on the bottom telling you what to do to pull of an Uber trick. These Uber tricks are insane!! They consist of cheating the laws of physics, by performing sick and twisted moves with or on the board. To see the Uber tricks in motion is something to be really excited about. They're wild and some even outrageously funny. SSX Tricky's world circuit mode features interactivity between other riders. Each and every rider has his/her own feelings towards you. Some are neutral, while others are your friends or enemies. At the start of a race, your chosen rider will speak to either his friend or enemy to get them fired up. During the race if you punch and knockdown your enemy, not only will your boost meter fill to the top, but after the race your enemy will exchange a few words with you. Also during a race, if you knock down somebody other than your enemy, his/her resentment meter towards you will grow. Much like the first SSX, you will be awarded points, new venues, boards and etc for your completion of either the race or showoff event. From a personal stand point, if only SSX Tricky had online gameplay, it would've been able to rival Tony Hawk 3 for extreme sports supremacy. If asphalt and wheels aren't your thing, SSX Tricky sure will be. The game is a true sequel that is every bit as fun as the original! SSX fans, do not hesitate to buy this title!
EA has done it once more. They've brought out some of the best sounds in an extreme sports title to date. For starters, we've got the original SSX soundtrack in its entirety featured in Tricky. Second, the game features a Hollywood cast of voice actors playing the roles of characters such as Eddie (David Arquette), Zoe (Bif Naked), Elise (Lucy Liu), Brodi (Billy Zane), Luther (Oliver Platt) and Seeiah (Macy Gray). Line-ups don't get as star studded as this folks. Each and every one of these celebrities has won either an Emmy, an Oscar, an MTV Award or a Grammy. It shows that EA played their cards right when they were hiring the talent for the game. Mix Master Mike and Rahzel, along with a slew of other DJs and recording artists have returned to SSX to premiere more excellent tracks. If my count is not mistaken, there are around 30 different tracks in the game. Simply put, SSX Tricky's audio is fantastic!
Of course, as many of us should know, SSX Tricky controls are different than other extreme sports titles such as Tony Hawk and Coolboarders. The gamer must make full use of the shoulder buttons (R1, R2, L1, L2) in coordination with various directional movements in order to pull off a stunt. Grinding rails is done automatically; just ride up to one and your character will begin grinding the rail or pole or whatever the structure may be. SSX controls are definitely precise, as the game still allows use of both analog and digital pads. The Dual Shock's got a great hit to it as well. Overall, it's a tight package in this field as well. SSX enthusiasts will feel right at home.
I'll be honest; at first I wasn't expecting much from SSX Tricky. I thought that it would be more of a rehash, rather than an all new title with mind-blowing traits. The venues have been completely re-designed to an unrecognizable state. In addition, the game features a DVD style presentation that includes dozens of videos of behind the scenes development footage of the game. Visually, the game still looks incredible, as fine touch ups were made here and there, and especially to the texture detail. While it's not absolutely dramatic, the visual changes are there. To top everything off, Tricky's audio/soundtrack is probably the best in an extreme sports title to date. I've heard many great soundtracks, but nothing at the moment compares to SSX Tricky. SSX fans: get Tricky if you know what's good for you. Not only is this a follow up to the best PS2 title of 2000, but it's also one of the best extreme sports titles of the year. The recommendation for a purchase stands very high.
11/17/2001 Arnold Katayev