SSX Blur

Review

posted 3/21/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: Wii
When the Wii's motion-sensing control was first introduced Nintendo made a big deal out of how it was going to make gaming easier, different and better. Apparently Nintendo had not seen SSX Blur yet, because if anything the Wii's control makes this game harder and much more difficult than it should be. While the game's structure is good and the graphics really shine, it's the control that turns what should have been a great snowboarding experience into something that is almost unplayable.
 
I say this with a heavy heart; you see I'm a giant SSX fan. I still consider SSX3 to be one of the greatest games of the last generation, a massive game that did a lot to raise the bar for how extreme sports games should be. I was a little disappointed with SSX On Tour, but was excited to see what Electronic Arts could do with the Wii's motion control. Little did I know that SSX Blur was going to be such a major disappointment, so bad in fact that I'm having a hard time looking at the series in quite the same way.
 
What has always set SSX apart from all of the other snowboarding simulators is the relative ease of the core game play. Regardless of whether you're racing, performing huge tricks or just exploring the mountain, controlling your snowboarder has always been easy and intuitive. Unfortunately this is not the case with SSX Blur. Thanks to the Wii's brand new control SSX has switched from something fun to something extremely frustrating. Not only does the new control scheme not add anything to the core game play, but I would argue that it takes a lot of what made SSX so engaging away. 
 
Those who have gone through SSX3 or On Tour will no doubt recognize many of the key components found in Blur. Like the previous versions, Blur takes place on a giant open world mountain with three massive peaks, each of these peaks offers a series of events as well as a number of tournaments. Do well in these events and you will upgrade your stats and unlock bonus material (new boards, new characters, etc.). The game is set up so that you won't be able to get gold right from the start, it's imperative that you spend the time upgrading your character's abilities (including speed, balance, tricks and so on) and then try these events again. Anybody who has played an SSX game will definitely feel right at home with this game's structure.
 
The events are all similar to what we've seen in other SSX games. Of the events it comes as no surprise that the most exhilarating moments in this game come when you're racing down the mountain against a half dozen other people. If you're looking for something a little slower, then perhaps you should try one of the various trick events, which require you to earn a certain amount of points before finishing (or running out of time). There's also a slalom race where you have to weave around a bunch of red and blue flags. These slalom events are the weakest part of SSX Blur, but once you get the hang of them it's not hard to bust right through them without much difficulty.
 
Because of Blur's often frustrating control scheme the races are definitely the easiest to get into. Outside of a few events later in the game, most races don't require you to do a lot of complex tricks in order to win. All you need to do is stay in control, find short cuts and make sure you don't get run down by the competition. Had this game's focus been more about racing than tricks I would have had a better time, but as it is there aren't enough races to keep this experience fun. My biggest complaint is that when you play the speed races you can almost see why the other games were so enjoyable, but the races are over too soon and it's back to the grind of attempting tricks and dealing with the halfpipe.
 
The reason this game is so disappointing can be placed entirely on the Wii's controls. The motion-sensing remote control does not make SSX easier or more fun, instead it turns it into a frustrating experience that is more complex and mind-numbingly aggravating. Instead of using the D-pad and shoulder buttons to perform tricks (like it has been on every other console), Blur requires you to move your wrist left and right to spin and up and down to flip around. This set up isn't all bad; there are times when it almost feels natural to do this. The problem is that it's not always responsive, so there are tricks that you should be performing but you aren't because the control didn't register your motion.
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