SSX: Out of Bounds
Time to get tricky on your N-Gage with the EA Sports BIG adaptation of the popular SSX snowboarding series!
I want to start off this review with an admission. I didn't play SSX 3 on the Xbox. It's not because the fantastic reviews or the gushing praise for over a year failed to convince me. In fact, I haven't checked out the SSX series until recently, when I've spent a good deal of time with SSX: Out of Bounds. As a video snowboarding virgin, I can safely report I am a new convert to the series.
It's easy to be reserved about ports, especially to any hand held platform. This is one of the reasons why most of the new titles we see releasing for the N-Gage this year are original to the platform. It allows them to "play to the strengths of the system" (as the PR reps say), and they're right to do that. However, I'm glad to say that SSX: Out of Bounds, while not perfect, is just plain fun.
First, it's important to know the N-Gage version of SSX is a near exact port of SSX 3... well, as close as an N-Gage can get to the home consoles. In it you'll find the same ten players available for the picking (personally, I'm partial to Allegra due to my allergy issues) and the same three base peaks are featured, as well as the multiple modes like Race and Slopestyle, where it's all about the bling.
While personally, I would have preferred to see more new music in this release, it is quite an impressive feat that the complete original soundtrack has made its way to the tiny MMC game cartridge. Expect a very compressed (but still totally impressive) playlist, including speed tunes by favorites like Chemical Brothers, Q-bert, Fatboy Slim and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The title also delivers one original track from the Canadian hip-hop band, Swollen Members (one of my favorite band names ever).
If you never played SSX on the GBA, the scaled down experience may take time to adjust to, but thanks to developer Exient your fingers will be doing Super Uber Tricks in no time. It may actually be a bit too easy to control, as you can just let the slopes of the course do most of the work in the beginning rounds. In fact, I hit twice as many rails while leaving the N-Gage unattended than I did actually playing.
While going through the tracks, make sure you do enough tricks to supply your boost key, and stay between the lines. For seasoned SSX boarders, notice the added ramps on the tracks. Due to the lower graphic quality and limited field of view, I sometimes was unsure of which direction I was sliding, but the game didn't seem to care. Certain maps are more prone to have black holes that make getting back on track near impossible, but once you get the lay of the land these problems are easier to avoid.
One of the important features in any N-Gage title is multiplayer, and this SSX takes full advantage of both the Bluetooth capability and online N-Gage Arena and is where this title truly shines. Using Bluetooth up close and personal, you can race in the very first four-player N-Gage experience. Log into N-Gage Arena and you can upload your best race as a ghost, or download others ghosts to race against others in Shadow Racing mode. Expect to see this feature in many N-Gage titles from now on.
All said and done, I enjoyed this game. I totally became that girl in the commercial who was trying to jump over the bus seat in front of me in order to make the ramps. Fans of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater should buy it without a doubt. Quirks and lackluster graphics aside, the game play is addictive and makes this a solid N-Gage release.
What's Hot: All the fun of the console game crammed into your cell phone.
What's Not: Lower quality graphics make course navigation difficult at times.