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SSX 3 Preview
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Old 21 Sep 2003, 12:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default SSX 3 Preview

September 19, 2003 - For the better part of the year EA has been teasing us with its SSX 3 franchise. We've provided a ton of coverage on it from direct-feed videos to in-depth features, but the fact is we haven't had a chance to play the full, basically complete product until just recently. We heard about the three peaks, EA touted all the new modes, and all the tweaks to the previous engine, but experiencing all this has been just out of reach. Until now. We've gotten the near-final version in our offices and, no surprise here; we're thrilled with all the hard work that's been put into it.

From presentation to gameplay to the engine that drives it, this is a seriously fine-tuned title. SSX 3 is the first THX Certified Game that we've seen in our offices, if that tells you anything about the love that EA has for the franchise. Upon booting it up you are blasted with high-quality surround, a guarantee of tested visuals, and a lengthy FMV introduction (which you can find here). SSX 3 is polished -- both by current standards, and especially when you compare it to its two-year-old predecessor, SSX Tricky. The advances made are many.

Firstly and most importantly, SSX 3 is more cohesive in design. Instead of the previous World Circuit mode, you know have Conquer the Mountain. The latter, designed from the ground-up for SSX 3, immerses you in the experience. The only "mode" you choose is to ride the mountain. Then you begin at Peak 1, and you start riding. You ride through the backcountry, for starters. You're not even placed on the starting line -- you have to ride to it. You are literally dropped from a helicopter on the mountainside upon starting the Conquer the Mountain mode. It's up to you to find your way to the first starting line, via the marked signs on the mountain.

Once you arrive, there are about a half-dozen runs open for you to challenge, and you've got to complete a bunch of different objectives while you ride them. Taking cues from Activision's hugely successful Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise, you will have to do more than just race or perform freestyle. There are four main objectives: Race, Freestyle, Explore, and Earn Cash. You will have to compete in Big Air contests, partake in special challenges, find collectibles in Freeride (explore), and a bunch of other things we haven't even scratched the surface of. The point is, SSX 3 looks like it's the most feature-packed snowboarder out there this season.

As for how the gameplay tweaks, SSX 3 definitely plays differently. You still control it like before, but now you can earn through a Super Uber-Trick if you're good enough. The physics, too, have been altered. The snowboards now bend to make riding look and feel better. Tricks flow more seamlessly, and you have a bigger window of time to link together combos.

The technical side of things has really blown us away, too. It makes SSX Tricky, which, granted, is quite outdated, look like a dinosaur. The graphical detail has been upped to the point that you really don't feel that you're riding on a "track" so much as a huge, huge mountainside. Polygonal complexity is more accommodating than before, making the mix of smooth slopes to rocky 90-degree cliff sides feel more real than ever. It runs excellently on all three consoles; at a mostly steady 60 frames per second, you should have your drool buckets ready.

Currently scheduled for an October 14 release, SSX 3 is shipping very soon. From what little playtime we've had with the absolutely humongous snowboarder, we're extremely pleased. It's still got all the sick, over-the-top EA Big arcade gameplay we've grown to love, but it also manages to immerse you in its world. It supports widescreen televisions, is technically solid, has multiplayer, and, of course, the quick-access Single Event mode so anyone can jump right in and enjoy it.

If you enjoyed SSX Tricky, this is pre-order worthy. We'll be digging deeper into the experience in the coming weeks, so look for more coverage soon. For the final verdict, though, you're going to have to wait for our review in mid-October. We've got a lot of work to do if we're going to conquer these three monstrous peaks.

Wow this game sounds amazing. I can't wait to get it. And its also online which is even better. I loved the first two games, and this one sounds like its going to be even better. Is there anyone else here intrested in SSX games?
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