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.

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