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Review By: Joe Rolfe
Developer:   EA
Publisher:   EA
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Snowboarding
ESRB:   Everyone
Date Posted:   11-07-00

These "extreme" games seem to be all the videogame rage as of late. Nintendo’s classic 1080 Snowboarding, the Cool Boarders series and recently the incredibly good Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater titles have all created more than just a niche spot in the market. Ironically, the king of all sports games, Electronic Arts, never seemed to quite jump on this bandwagon (with the exception of the Street Sk8ter string). So, out of nowhere came EA Sports and a little snowboarding title, SSX, being developed with a release date set for the launch of the heralded PlayStation 2. Over time since it’s debut to the press and as the store day became more and more imminently closer, EA’s once unknown "eXtreme" game suddenly became a spotlight in the otherwise mediocre PS2 launch lineup. The detailed graphics, intuitive design and down right fun control promised this title to become a classic, right?

Well, yours truly wasn’t so optimistic. With multiple "alternative" games being mass produced across different consoles, the idea that a snowboarding game, of all genres, would truly be the star title for the PlayStation 2 seemed ludicrous to me. Even with various reports of how great it was popping up in both print and online form, I still was skeptical.

Man, how foolish was I.

After putting many hours (and pulling out many hairs, at the same time) with EA Sport’s SSX, I too have finally accepted the ungodly amount of quality that this game displays. The early going of playing SSX can seem more like a pain in the ass than it is a pleasure, but those who stick with it will uncover one of the most delightful titles that can be had on a console this year. Everything in SSX – from the extraordinary track design to the eye-popping graphics – is a benchmark for snowboarding games and extreme games in general. If there are only a handful of titles that you can have from the year 2000, you should – no -- you must place SSX as one of them.

The world of SSX centers around eight different, stylized borders, each with their own distinct look and personality. Four are available from the beginning of the game, while the latter ones are only selectable after winning Gold medals in the Race and Showoff modes during the World Circuit (WC) event. From the pre set of the game you can play in the single event mode or attempt to gain new items in the World Circuit. From the outset of the WC you choose one character and try to progress them from a Newbie ranking to the ultimate Master snowboarder. This occurs by a process of doing a three-race set on multiple maps. Each course has three heats that the boarder must place 3rd or better in to proceed with the career. Getting 1st place will earn you a Gold medal, 2nd place a Silver, and 3rd a Bronze. With each medal comes experience points that can be used to upgrade your rider’s ability to do tricks, edge, stabilize themselves and increase speed.

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