I’ve always been a fan of snowboarding games. I enjoyed snowboarding on my Sega Saturn with SSS, then on the PS1 with Cool Boarders, and then on my N64 with 1080 snowboarding. I remember renting that game a and finishing it, unlocking everything the game had. On Monday, I went to the mall and bought the game and then played some more. When I had heard that a sequel to 1080 was coming on GameCube, I was extremely excited. I thought that it would be the greatest snowboarding game ever. But then, another snowboarding game caught my eye. I remembered it from when I had seen it on store shelves when PS2 was launched. Then, I had seen it’s a sequel but didn’t have any of the next-generation systems when it was released so I completely forgot about it later. That’s when they showed the 3rd one, and I was completely blown away. I always liked realistic games, but what I like the most are those games that take it to the next level, games like F-Zero, Rush, NBA Jam, you know, the games that are extremely and in which you can do almost anything you can in real life x 100. That’s what I like a lot about games, being able to do whatever I want, and that’s what SSX3 has brought me.
You start the game as one of 10 riders, some new, some from past games. You enter competitions, win cash, buy attributes to get better, get further into the game, and then become the king of the mountain. That’s kind of the basic stuff, what you should have in most snowboarding games. But in SSX3, you don’t only get a few races, you have 26 snowboarding events on 3 different peaks. That is completely insane! That is already enough to keep you playing for a very long time, but it’s still just the beginning. They are 3 different modes of play. The first one is racing. You’ve got to be the first at the bottom, and you’re against 5 other riders. There are also challenges where you’ll be racing against an opponent, and even full peak races where you’ll be racing for over 10 and even 20 minutes without any loading between the tracks! Then, there’s freestyle. That’s where you have to perform all the crazy tricks found in this game to get he best score you can. There are 3 different freestyle events. The most popular one being the superpipe event, an extreme halfpipe where you’ll be jumping extremely high, even to some other halfpipes that are in the air! Crazy stuff I tell ya! Then, there are the big air events, a series of insanely big jumps that don’t last very long, so you’ll have to perform your best tricks to get the biggest scores. The last one is freestyle runs, where you have to get to the bottom of a normal race, but making one extremely sick score! And finally, the last mode of play, freeride. If you just want want to explore and find the best shortcuts or collectibles from the game, that’s the mode of play to pick. These are the modes of play in Conquer the Mountain (or story mode if you like), but you can also just do single races or play with friends in the multiplayer mode.
So, as you progress through the game, you get money. With that money, you gain access to the second and the third peak. Once you’ve done all that, the games over, right? Well, it actually isn’t! Each of the tracks has collectables and big challenges. One of the goals in the game is to collect all the collectables and finish all big challenges, and there are so many, you’ll spend hours just doing that. Those big challenges can be found anywhere on the track, and they ask you to do various stuff like get a really big score, do certain tricks, do certain jumps, jump through rings, then do it again in a certain time, etc. There’s a lot to do and with various difficulty levels. You also get a medal each time you finish a race, either bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. But those are attributed to you depending on your time and score, so you’ll have to do your best if you want to score those platinum medals, as they are not easy to get! And the more medals and collectables you get, and the more big challenges you complete, the closer it brings you to complete each of the 3 peaks. Also, by completing races and winning cash, you can buy various stuff in the lodge like arts from the game, and pictures of all the stuff they sold that has something to do with the game like toys and cards and posters. There are also videos and cheat characters. One final thing; there are what EA calls career highlights. These are things you have to perform during races, spectacular things, like rail for over a hundred meters, or jump in the air for 8 seconds, do a chain of 100 moves in a combo, etc. And the more you complete, the more you’ll unlock stuff.
But how does it play? Well, it kind of plays like every other snowboarding games, but with a few things added just for SSX. You’ve got a bar on the right of your screen. The more you perform tricks, the more it gets filled. You can also fill this bar by knocking off other riders by punching them, and the more you push them, the more they become mad at you and they’ll punch you back. When it’s filled, you can use it to perform turbos and go faster. But you can also continue to perform tricks and light the super uber letters on top of it. The more you light, the more the moves you’ll perform will be crazy. You’ll be able, at some point, to perform uber tricks, like uber grabs and uber rails. Those tricks are completely insane, stuff you’d never see in real life. A character can remove his feet from his board and just twist around it, then grab it back and land. It’s just unbelievable! And you can also perform manuals and link those tricks to make insane combos or do handplants. One thing that needs to be mentioned though is the fact that since the cube controller has less buttons, there are moves not available only in the cube version, but it’s not that bad as there are already a ton to perform, so I don’t think people will notice, unless of course, if they’ve already played the other versions.
Now, one of the features that I really liked was the customization. You can customize your character by buying different clothes, different hairstyles, new boards, new shoes, new glasses, new accessories, you name it and they’ve got it! Then you can buy your character new uber moves and choose the ones you want him to perform. You can also buy him more attribute points so that he becomes the ultimate snowboarder. Your character has background information so you can know more about him, he has a record of all the events it’s won and what medals it has. You can also customize your soundtrack as you can buy the tracks you want and make your custom track list.
Now, on the graphics side, it is also amazing. The graphics look really good! The snow shines, there are fireworks everywhere, blizzards, avalanches, the riders are well detailed, you can see very far in front of you, the lighting is also beautiful, there are tree, houses, rails, waterfalls, the tracks are filled with stuff and it is just gorgeous. But what impressed me the most though is that the game does some amazing stuff, and it barely slows down! This is the difference between a rushed game and a polished one, and you can clearly see that EA has spent lots of time polishing this one up, as it is the best looking snowboarding game ever made in my opinion, just because it looks so good, runs smoothly, and is just so imaginative with huge tracks that are really different from what you see everywhere else. There are even parts of the tracks that fall apart or gets destroyed during some hardcore races later in the game!
On the sound department, it is also equally good and there’s a lot to be mentionned. First, the music is very good. It’s all licensed stuff and EA has a lot of good music that they’ve paid for and it really suits this game. There’s a lot of techno and rock music from well known bands, the kind of stuff that suits snowboarding. The sound effects are good and they really make you feel like you’re in the game, especially on a good surround sound system. All the characters have voices and they speak during the races, and that’s kind of cool, as they say more than “hey”! They’ll actually talk to each other during some races. There’s also DJ Atomica, who is kind of the commentator of the game, and tells stuff about what is happening on the mountain, the weather, the riders, and he makes you listen to the music. It really sound like a real radio channel, and it even has it’s own name: EA Radio Big!
What more to say? There is simply no reason why you shouldn’t get this game. It offers everything a gamer would want in a game, and then more. I’ve played with this game more than any other this generation, and I still have fun with it. Show EA some love on the cube and go get this game right now!