Review: SSX Blur
Developed by EA Sports BIG, SSX Blur aims to set the standard for snowboarding games on the Wii. SSX Blur is a change for the series in many ways, especially the fact of the controls on Wii-exclusivity. Normally, SSX games are multiplatform titles and EA usually doesn’t focus on a single system for the series. I’m glad EA did depart from their multiplatform past, and I think EA is too from the great reception it has received at retail.
Starting off, you’ll find you have many game modes open to you. The Tutorial mode is definitely one to try before you take to the slopes in the Career mode. The Tutorial goes through all the basic moves including carving, jumping, and even more complex maneuvers like Uber Tricks. The game does have a learning curve, but it usually only takes 30 minutes of play-time to get used to carving and the basic moves. Uber Tricks, on the other hand, take a lot more work to land. The Uber Tricks require some fast precision. It involves ‘drawing’ on the screen various symbols for executing different Uber moves. Some of the symbols are basic drawings like a circle, while others require both hands. Doing Uber moves in the Tutorial are much easier than in the regular game because you aren’t required to fill your Uber meter up. It keeps the meter up as a handicap for getting used to the Ubers. The real test will come when you encounter the Career mode.
The Career mode takes you through many different events spanning 3 mountain Peaks. Each Peak has multiple slopes with different events to complete on each slope. You’ll have to complete events as you go along including: Race, Slalom, Slopestyle, Big Air, and Half-Pipe. Racing is pretty straight forward. You’ll be pitted against 5 others in a downhill speed-fest to reach the bottom first. Slalom takes some mastery of carving. Each gate you miss adds 15 seconds to your time, which really hurts your overall time if you miss many of the gates (this happened to me on many occasions). Honestly, slalom is the hardest to get used to control-wise. If you’re having difficulties with the slalom events, just skip them and come back when you have more ‘Edge’ stat points (Stat Points can be upgraded as you progress–these include stat increases for Edge, Air, Trick, Speed, and Boost).
Slopestyle, Big Air, and the Half-Pipe focuses on the biggest and best tricks you can pull off in a given time period. Each event has a different feel to it, but they all focus on perfecting your tricks in different circumstances. Slopestyle takes you through a whole slope and your goal is to do tricks everywhere you can—there are jumps, rails, and multipliers a plenty. Big Air only gives you two or three jumps to get a high score. Finally, Half-Pipe gives you the ultimate challenge to best everyone else with your Uber moves (Half-Pipe is the greatest time to practice your Uber moves).
SSX Blur has amazingly immersive controls, which you really have to experience for yourself. The carving is executed by tilting the nunchuk and all the tricks are controlled by motions with the Wiimote. This may sound really awkward, but it’s incredibly intuitive. There are some frustrations you’ll come across with the controls, but it’s a positive frustration where you want to keep trying until you finally perfect it.
Visuals: EA focused on the visuals more than other 3rd-parties. There are tons of light and reflections off the snow. You’ll see waves of snow fly off your board when you carve through the powder. The scenery is amazing and it makes for a more immersive experience. I’m glad to see developers pushing the Wii graphically, because it is so much more capable than what everyone thinks.
Gameplay: The gameplay is fast and fun. You’ll be flipping and doing tricks, while still maintaining some speed down the mountain. The carving is very realistic, especially when you’re on ice. You’ll experience some lack of control on ice, but that’s to be expected. The game blends all the experiences of snowboarding into an engaging snowboarding/skiing sim.
Replay Value: The game has a 2-player mode where you can compete simultaneously in any of the games tracks or modes. There is also a 4-player mode, but it’s one where you take turns on a given event or challenge. SSX Blur also has many unlockables including more Uber moves and boards/skis. It has plenty of extras to keep you busy for many hours.
Wii Innovations: The controls feel like they were designed from the ground up on the Wii. They don’t feel tacked-on like some other 3rd-party outings. The controls are tight and precise. You’ll notice, once you play, just how much you’ll even start moving your body around when you’re carving back and forth (as if you were skiing or snowboarding in real life). That tells me they succeeded with their Wii controls.
Verdict: SSX Blur is one of the best 3rd-party games on the Wii, if not the best. It combines great gameplay with an immersive control system. If you’re looking for a great snowboarding/skiing game or even a great sports game; SSX Blur is a definite must own.