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SSX Tricky
Review By:  Joe Rolfe
Developer:   EA Canada
Publisher:   EA Sports BIG
# of Players:   1-2
Genre:   Extreme Sports
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card
Date Posted:   12-19-01

With exception to possibly Madden NFL 2001, the original SSX was by far the most popular and impressive title at the launch of the PlayStation 2. Featuring amazing graphics (for the time), great audio and just plain addicting controls for the gameplay, EA Sports BIGís first attempt at a PS2 title easily became the number one action sports game around not requiring a skateboard and a certain athlete named Hawk. It certainly had a few rough spots here and there, but SSX turned out to be one of the best games to find the PlayStation 2, even a year after its original release.

Enter SSX Tricky. A year later and a whole lot more experienced, EA Canada has released its follow up to the snowboarding hit. Though some may call it just a new coat of paint, or even SSX 1.5, when played to its fullest extent SSX Tricky is a fantastic upgrade to an already fantastic title. It may appear to be only a semi-sequel, but that doesnít stop Tricky from yet again dragging gamers in with compelling gameplay and an exhilarating presentation.

From its outset, SSX Tricky just feels a bit more fresher. It now contains lavish animated menus, tossing away the boring, static images of the first game. Load times have been given a kick in the ass, as loading both menus and the actual game is much brisker than before. Also, boarder personalities are much more apparent in Trickyís incarnation. Most riders are now voiced by famous actors, like David Arquette as Eddie and Lucy Lue as Elise. The game carries itself as touch edgier this time when all these elements are combined, and that is definitely a good thing.

What most critics have against Tricky is that itís not a full-fledged sequel. And, rightfully, itís not. The game actually only contains two new tracks, while the remaining tracks from the first SSX have been changed and altered, some quite drastically. I personally did not find having just two new tracks to be a burden, since the adjusted courses carry little resemblance to the originals other than the names and the overall look. New shortcuts, jumps and pipes have been implemented here and there, so seasoned SSX veterans will still find a lot of new challenges within the older tracks. Tricky does however throw a boatload of new characters into the game, tossing away Jurgan and Hiro and in their place integrating outrageous new characters such as the sketchy Eddie and the fat, annoying Luther. They all diversify in sex, race and biography, so any gamer should be able to find a personality to relate to.

In attempt to make the race mode more challenging and the Showoff mode more prolific, EA placed new "Uber" tricks in the game. By building up your boost meter with standard moves, riders can pull off insane, normally impossible tricks with the press of a shoulder button and the Square button. Not only do they look downright unfeasible, but just plain goofy at the same time. By executing six or more of these Uber-tricks in a single race, riders will gain an unlimited boost for the remainder of the race -- an element which truly pays off in trying to achieve desired times. Although the new stunts are more for just plain show and style instead of an important gameplay factor, they still are quite enjoyable to watch and just add a new detail the already rigorous gameplay.

SSX was easily one of the PS2ís prettiest games from the get-go, and SSX Tricky has carried that tradition. While it features the same engine, Tricky looks just a lot sharper and polished than the initial game. Tricky sports a higher resolution, brighter colors, snazzy lighting and volumetric lighting. Animation is still solid as before, with the wacky Uber-tricks never getting in the way of the action. The first SSX had slight problems with the frame rate consistency, and although Tricky dips a little bit once in a while when a grand amount of geometry and characters are on the screen at once, it stays at 60 FPS much more often than SSX does. Overall, a previously good-looking game is even visually better.

As for the audio, Tricky hasnít deferred far from SSX Ė quite a good thing, indeed. SSX Tricky still features the same head moving light techno music from before, but it complements the fast paced action on the snow just as well. EA Canada even sampled Run DMCís "Itís Tricky" for the main theme song, as well as being played when you go into "Uber" mode for the Uber-tricks. All in all, the sound fits every aspect of SSX Tricky perfectly.

All told, Tricky is a polished, adrenaline-pumping game that will remind early PS2 pundits why SSX kicked so much ass. New visuals, better sound and refined gameplay make the Tricky experience one of the best to be had on the PlayStation 2 this year. SSX veterans at least need to rent the game, and newcomers must purchase this game immediately.

HIGHS:

  • Uber-tricks are hilarious to see and use
  • New and refined tracks are awesome as ever
  • Visual and aural experience still one of the best around
  • Nice implementation of Run DMC theme

LOWS:

  • If anything, a few more tracks would have been nice.

FINAL VERDICT:

Go ahead, call it a semi-sequel, or SSX 1Ĺ -- regardless, EA Canada has yet again manufactured a highly enjoyable adrenaline sports game. Buy it, play it, love it.

Overall Score: 9.0

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