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Classic game appreciation section: SSX 3

The best way to enjoy SSX 3 is as follows: Head to peak three. Set background music to ‘mountain ambience’ only. Commence carving the fresh powder in one of the most scenic landscapes in gaming history.

As far as I’m concerned, sliding your way from the top of peak three to the bottom of peak one is damn near perfect, and the closest you’ll get to the real thrill of snowboarding minus the fear of hurtling into a tree at 50mph. Here, take a look...

I’ll be honest, I had zero interest in the SSX series until the third one popped up on PS2 and even then I needed convincing. The original SSX had long passed me by and although I was in the minority with this, I felt there was something a bit too ‘out there’ with SSX Tricky. Admittedly I’d only ever seen screenshots and clips, but I dismissed it simply as brightly coloured clowns slipping down a mountainside. As funny as that image is, I wasn’t interested.

But due to the gushing from my old editor on PSM3 (néé PSM2), Dan Dawkins, and the hostile, peer pressure gentle words of encouragement to try SSX 3, I folded. The very fact I’m doing an Appreciation Section article on the game indicates I wasn’t disappointed with it. I was instantly blown away.

Even for an eight year old game, the snow physics in SSX 3 are as good as any you’ll find today. And that goes for the new SSX I played on 360 recently. It might not be as pretty but carving through the snow like a hot knife through something that melts quickly (butter?) feels incredibly realistic as you create waves of pure white snow, while shifting your rider’s weight from side to side.

Above: Like cranking up to the top of a rollercoaster, the drop that awaits is epic

The only comparable sports game for satisfying physics is Skate and I bloody love Skate too. OK, this is no surprise as a lot of SSX 3 devs used their skills on EA’s Hawk killer.

While the general feel of ‘boarding is Zen balanced, I was immediately hooked by the tricks you can pull off and the ease of which you can look good even though you’re essentially twiddling the stick and hoping for the best.

Backflips, front flips, spins with more revolutions than a tornado and of course, the show-stopping uber tricks – each run threw up more ways to look bloody brilliant. And half the time I didn’t know exactly how I was doing things, but I was cool with that.

Each course offers a variety of routes to explore, and this led me to prolonged sessions of finding the perfect line to bag the biggest score – a feat I hadn’t indulged in since the Canada stage in Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3.

Above: EA Big did a sterling job of cramming in an incredible variety of tricks

Squeezing in a late flip before you come crashing to earth is the difference between racking up more digits than you can count or hitting reset and trying it all over again. But I didn’t mind because I knew it was my mistake and not a broken gameplay mechanic that eff’d things up for me.

And herein is another aspect that made SSX 3 so excellent, the flow of every trick, grind and turn you put together in a run is perfectly tuned. There’s a real skill in linking everything together that allows those that practice for perfection to achieve their goal. But even the most ham-fisted of gamers can catch air and look good by ragging around the analogue sticks. SSX 3 caters for all.

12 comments

  • RoeTaKa - November 24, 2011 8:07 a.m.

    You know a game is great when you buy it and play the first level for hours on end. Great game. SSX Tricky was also amazing I remember sending my scores into PSM2 magazine on video tape.
  • SDHoneymonster - November 24, 2011 8:20 a.m.

    It's not a patch on Snowboard Kids...
  • Net_Bastard - November 24, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    They're different games. I am an SBK fan as well, but SBK is a kart racer on snowboards. SSX is a snowboarding game.
  • punkduck2064 - November 24, 2011 8:51 a.m.

    I am terrible at sports games but I loved the crap out of this game so much I bought this game twice, and when my PS2 died I dug through several pawn shops to find a back compatible PS3 just so I could still play SSX 3.
  • Redeater - November 24, 2011 1:16 p.m.

    While I will always love Tricky for introducing me to this series, I loved SSX 3 to death. It's a shame they butchered the series with the half assed attempts at sequels but I'm really hoping the new SSX will redeem itself. Once again, thank god for the grittiness being gone!
  • CitizenWolfie - November 25, 2011 6:55 a.m.

    Agree with everything you just said. Looking forward very much to the new one.
  • Dazbot - November 24, 2011 2:32 p.m.

    Boarding from the highest peak to the very bottom of the third mountain in one seamless rum is still incredible. One of the few games you can pick up today on the PS2 and play for hours; incredible graphics, gameplay and soundtrack. Amazed no boarding game has yet to come close to what SSX3 did.
  • ShowMeYourKitties - November 24, 2011 3:03 p.m.

    Easily one of my favorite games of all time. This game and Burnout 3 encompassed most of my time spent of the original xbox.
  • JBizFoShiz - November 24, 2011 9:41 p.m.

    Cheers for the appreciation piece on this. I still remember those runs down the entire mountain, the heart-racing speed runs or the calm of performing a 2 minute manual in between the "real" race/trick levels on the peaks. The one thing I have to disagree with you on, though, is setting things to mountain ambience. I loved (most of) the soundtrack, and cannot imagine boarding down the mountain without it. Here's to hoping this gets an HD re-release along with Tricky sometime down the line. Mac is, and forever will be, the homie.
  • ManikMiner - November 25, 2011 2:19 p.m.

    Seriously get a new video player, urs is complete crap
  • augdog - November 27, 2011 11:10 a.m.

    This is appreciated.
  • DukeNukeThem - November 28, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    Just picked up a perfect copy on the PS2 from a charity shop for £1. Helping charity and dusting off my PS2 to play a great game.

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