reviews\ Nov 22, 2001 at 7:00 pm

SSX Tricky - PS2 - Review

SSX Tricky is a fast paced free-riding snowboarding game in the framework of a high-energy arcade game.  Being the second SSX release for the PS2 console, it effectively adds a significant amount of excitement to an already fun game.  This is because various tweaks have been made within the game, two new levels have been added, there are six new unique riders to choose from and most importantly, the "uber" tricks can now be much bigger.  The result is a game that's hard to put down.

The first thing that you'll notice about SSX Tricky is the well designed menu system coupled with the stunning visuals and bumpin' beats.  Within the menu you can choose to play the game or to view the content of the DVD.  The latter is worth checking out because it allows you to view out various videos and listen to the sweet music tracks included with the game.  Once the game has been started, there are three different modes of play: practice, single event, and world circuit.  Practice mode, which includes trick tutorials, allows you to get a feel for the slopes, while single event allows you to work on level records or play against others head-to-head in split- screen format.

World circuit mode is the most important aspect of the game because it allows you to open up new levels, riders, outfits, boards and it also gives you a chance to increase riders' stats.  Within world circuit are two different event types for each level: race and showoff.  When racing, all that matters is speed.  Getting down the hill in the least amount of time is essential, but completing tricks helps to meet this goal.  This is because the adrenaline meter, which fuels the boost button, is dependent on the riders ability to pull sick tricks.  In every race there are five AI riders, who'll usually do whatever then can to knock you down (so you must do the same to them).  There are three heats and a top three finish is required to move on to the next heat (or to win a medal in the finals).  Getting a feel for the game takes some getting used to, but once you get it down, SSX Tricky provides an unprecedented racing experience.

Showoff, on the other hand, is dependent on the number of points acquired on a single run and also the race must be completed in a specified amount of time.  This mode of play requires you to make good use of the jumps, rails, and everything else that can be utilized in order to come up with big points.  The best way to get points is to fill up the adrenaline meter, an event that sounds the sirens and the theme song - "it's tricky trick tricky."  At this point, uber tricks can be pulled off.  During an uber trick, the rider's board comes off his/her feet and it usually spins around in one way or another (like a skateboard) yielding many points.  These tricks looking amazing enough to drop anyone's jaw, especially when done with huge air.

The levels themselves are very unique, detailed and most importantly, fast.  They range from city environments to the snowy slopes of British Columbia, Canada.  Luckily, these levels are in no way confining as alternate routes can practically always be taken.  Not taking the designated trails can also help you take the lead if you're in race mode, a strategy that can't be overlooked.  There are a lot of objects found in each level, which means at high speeds there's a lot that can be run into!  Many objects are interactive too, such as in the city level where running into a fire hydrant causes water to come rushing out or if you smack into a parked car the alarm will sound.

The control setup in SSX Tricky takes a significant amount of time to get used to, but once mastered it proves to be very effective.  This setup is nothing like that of Tony Hawk Pro Skater and similar games, which most have become accustomed to.  Instead, the left analog stick is used for steering, the right for shoving other riders, while the d-pad is used for spins (left/right) and flips (up/down).  When approaching a jump, X (crouch/jump) must be held and then let off at the top of the lip.  Before releasing X, a spin or flip must be preloaded by holding the d-pad in the desired position.  Once in the air, grabs are done using combinations of  L1, L2, R1, and R2.  Lastly, square (boost/adrenaline) can be used to tweak the grabs in the air.  Sound too complicated?  Don't worry, it's not as difficult as it sounds!

SSX Tricky's visuals are quite impressive.  When cruising down the slopes at 60+ mph, all objects are crisp and detailed.  The colors throughout the game are very vibrant, which adds to the arcade-like game feel.  As the characters bust amazing tricks through the sky, their movements are smooth and accurate.  Their boards make realistic trails through the soft powder snow, while the hard ice has remains unaffected.  Both the new characters and the old are extremely detailed, from their outfits to their unique facial features.  There are also many computer generated videos found throughout the game that highlight the boarders' personality characteristics and also show how well done the 3D modeling is.

Another aspect of SSX Tricky that reminds me of an arcade game is the sound.  At practically every given moment there is announcer saying something, such as "funky dope maneuver," "that's what the crowd wants," or simply describing the trick that you just pulled off.  If one of the announcers isn't saying anything at some point, one of the characters probably is.  In race mode the characters often talk trash to one another when battling for position and in all modes your own character makes a lot of noise when consistently wiping out.  You may recognize some of the voice actors in SSX Tricky, since the cast is quite impressive: David Arquette, Macy Gray, Bif Naked, and more.  The sound effects are all extremely accurate, whether carving in powder or carving on ice, the noise produced will make you think you're actually on the slopes.   The music also does its job to get you pumped up with artists such as: Run DMC, John Morgan, Mixmaster Mike, and more.

SSX Tricky may not be the game of choice for those seeking a simulation style snowboard experience because this is not at all what the game is about.  Instead, it's a game for those who are looking for a fun, fast, high-energy arcade experience within their own home.  EA Sports BIG has done a great job creating a unique and enjoyable game, and it's definitely worth picking up. 

This game is rated "E" for everyone and it takes up 2MB on your PS2 memory card.

Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 9.5
Not being your traditional snowboarding game, SSX Tricky's opportunities to catch big air allow for amazing tricks to be pulled off at high-speeds in the coolest environments.  Both the race and showoff modes provide gameplay that is currently unmatched by any other title. 

Graphics: 9
Fast frame-rates along with smooth renders make this one a beauty to look at.  Each character is detailed to the maximum extent and each level provides a very unique snowboarding landscape.

Sound: 9.5
SSX Tricky's sound gets you pumped up and ready to ride like the champ you are.  Funky beats, from techno to hip-hop, along with celebrity voices, high-energy announcers and realistic sound effects - this one has the whole package.

Difficulty: 8
This game may be a little difficult for the casual gamer, but it offers quite a challenge to those who are looking for just that.  The control setup adds a significant amount of time to the game's learning curve.

Concept: 9
The concept of a snowboarding game wouldn't be too original, but SSX Tricky isn't just a snowboarding game.  It is truly a unique gaming experience that anyone (not just snowboarders) will enjoy.

Multiplayer: 8.5
The multiplayer mode allows for split-screen head-to-head play in either showoff or race mode.

Overall: 9


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