Impressions: SSX

Having played the demo extensively by the time the full game launched, I was expecting SSX to be a sleeker, shinier version of earlier games in the series that includes more internet-enabled features.  And I’ve been very happy with the game in that regard.  What I wasn’t expecting  was a snowboarding game with RPG elements subtly permeating all aspects of the experience.  Characters level up, purchase equipment, and can equip abilities based on how well you’re doing in the game’s campaign.  What’s interesting about all of this though is that SSX doesn’t include this gameplay mechanic as a requirement for being able to complete the campaign, but as the means by which you compete with others online.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this from a critical standpoint: RPG gameplay mechanics can artificially extend gameplay and reduce competition to simply min/maxing stats.  However, despite my own reservations about this strategy I have only enjoyed the time I’ve spent playing the game.

Another interesting aspect about SSX is what it has taken away non-core games in the mobile and Facebook spaces.  The friend/rival-centric design of the game’s “explore” mode can be very motivating in getting you to play the game.  Each time you login to the game’s explore mode, you will see a timeline of events that have occurred, letting you know who’s been playing, what they’ve been doing, and which of your scores they’ve taken down.  Perpetually trying to get to and stay at the top of the leader boards is a very effective way to ensuring that you get the most out of the game’s core mechanics: understanding how to best execute tricks, chain them together, building your trick meter, and tearing down the mountainside as quickly as possible.  SSX also brings micro-payments into the experience.  I’m not sure why anyone would use them to unlock equipment and abilities when it can just as easily be done by playing the game.  It’s not an intrusive aspect of the game though.  EA has already made $60 with your purchase of the game, it’s fortunate that it’s not made to feel like freemium games.  These might not be features that are entirely unique for core console and PC games but SSX implements them quite effectively.

I'm pretty sure the downward air pressure from those helicopter blades would ruin you.  Who cares though.  Video games.


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