Over the years SSX has carved its way into my heart and is one of my favourite games. Needless to say, I have been following the progression of SSX Deadly Descents over the past year, watching developer diaries and interviews. To say there has been a lot of hype and build up for this game would be a massive understatement. SSX On Tour (the previous SSX game) just didn’t cut it. It lacked the magic that previous SSX games had and EA assured us that SSX Deadly Descents was going to right the wrongs and re-establish SSX as a leader in the sports category. So, does it?
When you fire up Deadly Descents for the first time you get run through a simple tutorial to get you familiar with the control scheme and gameplay. This is done in a really cool way, you jump out of a plane at high altitude and have an unlimited amount of freefall that allows you to practice each trick in a safe, crash free environment. Following that you get to try out some of your moves on solid ground. After that you are ready to go.
There are three key modes to SSX Deadly Descents, the World Domination mode (main story), Explore (basically a free run mode) and RiderNet (multiplayer hub). The main story sees you help the SSX team to conquer the 9 deadly descents across the globe from Africa to New Zealand. Each mountain range has its own deadly gameplay element, from low oxygen levels and freezing temperatures to avalanches, which make for some varied gameplay and the need for custom gear. The story is quite thin a literally just strung together as a reason to conquer each mountain range.
I was very disappointed by the lack of customisation, in previous SSX games you got to select one character and build his/her skills up, learning their style and buying clothes accessories and gear as you went. In deadly descent you get to pick from a few randomly displayed options for gear or an outfit before you race. This was a big letdown for me and takes away some fo the personality that the previous games had.
While the graphics in SSX are not out of this world, the level design is very impressive. The mountains each have their own distinct styles which is great and provide an entirely different challenge and experience on each of them. For example you may be grinding along giant forgotten pipelines in Alaska or avoiding lava in the dark while racing through the bowels of Kilimanjaro in Africa.
The gameplay in SSX is great and lives up to it’s previous versions with out of this world radical tricks. As you increase your combo and build up points you get to unlock Tricky mode that results in even more outrageous tricks and more points. The only downside is on some of the deadly descents can get frustrating as you repeatedly fall down a massive ravine and have to start again. They have tried to minimise this happening by the introduction of a rewind feature that allows you to go back and have another go, however this costs you time (in a race event) or points (on style events). They have also added the ability for you to skip a stage and progress if you have died several times in a row.
Overall SSX captures that feeling of carving through fresh snow and is a lot of fun to play. In general landing tricks in SSX is quite forgiving and helps keep the smooth flow of the game intact anf enjoyable.
Multiplayer takes an entirely new approach in the form of RiderNet (very similar to the Autolog system in Need for Speed). Rather than using a lobby and the pain of waiting to be paired up, you jump into an event whenever and you best score goes onto a leaderboard. If you can stay on the podium by the end of the event, you get a payout of credits. This works really well and is simple and easy to access for everyone. If you want to earn the big bucks you need to enter events with high entry fees and larger payouts – this is where the more experienced riders are and allows a friendly environment for all players, meaning its not impossible to get on the leaderboard for an event regardless of your skill level.
One major issue that I have is the lack of splitscreen multiplayer. This was always one of the best parts of SSX in my opinion and it’s ommission is not that unexpected as more and more games move to online multiplayer only.
[easyreview title=”SSX Deadly Descents” cat1title=”Gameplay 9/10″ cat1detail=”Fast and smooth, some drawbacks but overall it’s lots of fun to play.” cat1rating=”9″ cat2title=”Story 7/10″ cat2detail=”Not much of a story at all although it is fun to conquer the various mountain ranges.” cat2rating=”7″ cat3title=”Graphics 8.5/10″ cat3detail=”While the graphics in SSX are not out of this world, the level design is very impressive.” cat3rating=”8.5″ summary=”SSX Deadly Descents had a lot to live up to, but does a good job overall. The game is challenging and a lot of fun to play, especially if you are taking it online through the RiderNet multiplayer.”]