SSX Blur Review

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Graphics: 8.5
Sound : 8.5
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : 7.5
Overall : 8.2
Review by Andy Levine
The SSX series, along with the EA Sports BIG trademark for that matter, has been all about getting in your face with top notch sports. Needless to say, SSX Blur for the Nintendo Wii was designed to immerse gamers further into the snowboarding experience through an innovative control scheme while still delivering the same, far-out gameplay that has defined the series. Although this title possesses a fair amount of flaws, as a whole Blur delivers an interesting twist on an already exciting foundation to create one of the best Wii games currently available.

As expected for any Wii game, Blur travels far from the norm of reality with its larger than life presentation and design. Right from the start, the menu is bursting with vibrant colors and upbeat music, and this upbeat feeling is maintained throughout the game’s entirety (with the exception of the frequent load screen, that is). During an event, the music is actually fueled by your performance, so shredding fast and catching big air will play fast paced adrenaline pumping music, while wiping out will stop the soundtrack immediately. The sound effects are spot on, so shredding on fresh powder and grinding on steel rails has never sounded so good. On the negative side, the stereotypical over-zealous announcer can grow tiresome with time, but he isn’t too much of a nuisance compared to some other titles.

In addition to the solid audial effects, the graphics department did a great job as well. The developers clearly went for an even more cartoonish appearance this time around, which is perfectly acceptable for Wii titles. The character animations are smooth and the sense of speed is amazing, especially when you build up your Groove Meter to the max. The environments are designed to allow for impossible jumps and death defying grinds to be second nature, and overall EA Sports clearly lived up to their BIG reputation.

Transporting any well known series over to the Wii is not an easy task because an entirely revamped control scheme is necessary, and luckily in this case the developers improved the experience instead of making movements feel tacked on. Most of your ground controls are utilized by the Nunchuk while your in-air movement is dominated by the Wii Remote. Your “big picture” turning is performed by tilting the Nunchuk left or right, and you can shred with finesse by using the analog stick as well. In this way, it’s not uncommon to find yourself bobbing up and down in real life imitating the motions as if you’re the one on a snowboard. The Wii Remote is responsible for flips and spins, and although there are strict guidelines for performing the right trick, it’s much easier to just fling the remote around and watch your rider perform insane moves.

A new addition to the series is the Ubertrick, which sadly wasn’t executed as well as the rest of the controls. To perform an Ubertrick, first you must build up your Groove Meter by performing crazy tricks and picking up ridiculous speeds and it won’t be long before you’re ready. Once your meter is high up enough, the next time you take off from a jump you need to press and hold ‘A’ and draw a shape to perform an Ubertrick. The concept isn’t that bad, but the execution is horrible. Even with the tutorials designed specifically for these tricks, it’s still near impossible to perform any of these moves consistently. As you progress through the career mode you can unlock more tricks, so of which may be easier than others, but it’s a real shortcoming to see one of the most appealing aspects of the game flop entirely. Worst of all, it’s incredibly difficult to pass some of the later trick-based missions without performing Ubertricks, so you need to find a way to master your technique if you plan on completing the game.

While the Ubertricks can lead you to all new levels of frustration, aside from this imperfection the rest of the game should not be overlooked. The learning curve isn’t too steep, and if you take the time to complete the tutorial missions you’ll be well on your way to a professional snowboarding and skiing career. Event types include typical downhill races, big air events, half-pipe contests, and the dreaded slalom. We say this because the slalom events aren’t almost as frustrating as the Ubertricks. The concept doesn’t seem so dreadful on paper, but with tightly packed gates and the not so tight turning controls, it can be downright boring to travel at a speed slow enough to maneuver your way down the mountain properly. These missions don’t get any easier as you improve your character’s stats either, so the only thing you can do is take your time and hope you come out on top.

As a whole though, the remainder of the events do have a lot to offer. SSX Blur is so easy to pick up and play, whether you plan on staying for a minute or an hour. The quick play mode instantly pits you against a competitive playing field, and it can be very rewarding to shred down the mountains without a care in the world. The career mode is filled with tons of unlockable outfits, tricks, characters, and boards so there’s always more to come back to also. Furthermore, there are 32 hidden challenges that can be found in the free ride mode, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for events, whether they are heads up races or snowball throwing battles. A multiplayer component is also available, including both split screen challenges and hot seat events, in which one person plays at a time and then scores are compared. You can find everything you’d expect in a multiplayer mode here, and although it would’ve been nice to see an exclusive game mode here, the events included won’t let you down.

Certainly SSX Blur could’ve used some tweaking in regards to the uber-impossible Ubertricks and the stress inducing slaloms, the rest of the game shows that winter sports will certainly experience a rebirth on the Wii. The controls are easy to pick up and feel very intuitive, which is a feature that doesn’t hold true to many Wii titles. With a career mode that will take hundreds of hours to complete 100% of the way and multiplayer support for up to four players, SSX Blur will undoubtedly compliment any Wii gamer’s collection.