SSX Tricky is more than a simple upgrade. Not only is this a true follow up to the original, but also one of the greatest snowboarding games ever released on a console.
The original SSX was one of the best PlayStation 2 titles as it featured a pretty unique gameplay, it offered incredible aural feedback, it had stunning graphics and it provided great sense of immersion. If we take into account all this, a sequel was just a matter of time and in late 2001 it became a reality. Even though SSX Tricky isn’t a typical sequel, as it has many recycled content, the game is the proper follow up to the original. In other words it keeps things fresh by improving some elements without ruining what was great about its prequel.
As soon as you start playing the game you’ll probably notice that the main part that has been prominently polished up is the gameplay. The control scheme is pretty much the same, but performing simple tricks and combining them seamlessly has never been easier. SSX Tricky really benefits from this change as its difficulty isn’t as unforgiving as in the original SSX. That doesn’t mean that the game is a cakewalk, but the improved gameplay makes the experience substantially less punishing and much more enjoyable.
Some of the tricks include grabbed air, rotation spins and flips, rail riding, and the plain insane Uber tricks. These special tricks are just ridiculous and really unrealistic allowing you to perform gravity defying stunts. Overall, they suit the game quite well and represent a meaningful inclusion as they add much more variety. Activating them isn’t exactly complex (first you have to fill the adrenaline meter,) but mastering Uber tricks is one of the game’s hardest parts. Additionally, something really interesting about these special stunts is that each character has a unique Uber associated to him/her, so changing characters also means new possibilities in that regard.
There are various characters to choose from and each one of them is really distinctive. Only a few boarders are unlocked right off the bat, but as you progress with the main game more of them will be available. In addition to this, SSX Tricky allows you to change the appearance and “behavior” of your character, so for example, even though each has different outfits, most of them will be locked when you first start playing the game. Also, there are many boards and not only they represent an aesthetic change, but also determine your characters’ skills.
The main game is called World Circuit and allows you to either race against different boarders in various courses or to participate in Showoff events. Like in its prequel, racing lets you qualify through different rounds until you reach the final one. Each circuit consists of three different rounds and you’ll need to finish third or higher in order to move on to the next race. When you finish the last course you receive a medal and a couple of experience points that you’ll be able to spend on your boarder among stats like: Edging, Speed, Stability and Tricks. As you upgrade these, your skills will improve and hence your performance will be much better, eventually promoting your overall rank. Another newly added feature is called “Rivalry” and it allows you to see who is your friend or foe during a race. Your foes will try to knock you down by punching you and fortunately you can do the same thing to them, this feature maintains across races so if you’re hostile to one character in a given race chances are he will be your enemy in the next one. Also, some of the racers will be your friends and some other will remain neutral, but keep in mind that this can easily change. On the other hand, Showoff mode is an event in which you need to get certain number of points in order to once again, get a medal. Moreover, a practice mode and a trick tutorial were included for beginners.
One of the aspects that hasn’t improved all that much is level design, mainly because only two venues are new and the rest are taken from the first SSX. Still, most of these venues are good enough and new elements like shortcuts have been added making them a little more different. Technical advancements like these were possible thanks to the use of the DVD technology. Nowadays we probably take it for granted, mainly because it’s in the process of being superseded by Blu-ray discs, but when Tricky came out in this media it offered a new range of never-seen-before possibilities. The 3D environments look much better, audio is much clearer, graphics seem more polished and venues look superb. The DVD technology also allowed developers to include amusing extras like behind-the-scenes movies, some trailer of upcoming titles and better voice recordings. From a technical perspective the game is pretty outstanding, though it should be taking into account that SSX Tricky came out a long time ago.
EA Sports recruited some really well-known Hollywood actors and actresses for the game’s voice acting, most of the voices are quite suitable and maintain SSX’s trend of ridiculousness. For example, you’ll be able to identify the voices of David Arquette and Lucy Liu, these two being the ones that stand out the most. Furthermore, the game’s soundtrack is quite good and it includes a wide range of genres and a variety of artists like Run-D.M.C., Rasmus, BT and Black Label Society. SSX Tricky looks really great too. Most character models are really lifelike and they perform tricks in really convincing ways. The diverse venues are full of myriad details like fireworks, crazy jumps, rails, trees and so on and so forth. The sense of speed that the game conveys is more than believable and makes races much more intense as a consequence.
In conclusion, SSX Tricky is an amazing game and much more than a simple upgrade. The gameplay has been improved, graphics are really good, audio integration is near perfection and character progression makes the game feel like a worthwhile experience. SSX Tricky simply feels like a genuine follow up to the original and playing it is highly recommendable, even after so many years of its release.