Tricky for the Xbox exhibits some the obvious signs of being a port but remains a highly addictive and entertaining experience.
If you're into snowboarding games, the Xbox has a wealth of choices. But so far, the sim-oriented Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding and the mission-based Dark Summit have failed to hit the mark. Enter EA Sports Big's boardercross game, SSX Tricky. Part racing game, part fighting game, and completely exciting, Tricky for the Xbox exhibits some the obvious signs of being a port but remains a highly addictive and entertaining experience.
Set one year after the original game, SSX Tricky finds that two of the riders from the original have taken a sabbatical, but they've been replaced by a stable of five young guns with even more personality. The foundation of SSX Tricky is the world circuit, where you must compete against six other riders in a series made up of three runs down the same hill. As you win bronze, silver, or gold medals in each circuit, new tracks, outfits, and boards are unlocked and attribute points are awarded to enhance the abilities of your rider however you see fit. Unlike in last year's game, where the third and final race in each circuit was much more difficult than the prior two, the AI has been refined so that the difficulty for each race gradually builds to a crescendo for the final run. The showoff mode has returned from last year's world circuit, and it has received more emphasis this time around--helping to make the experience more balanced between tricking and racing. In SSX, you could max out your rider's attributes simply by competing in races, but you'll have to complete the showoff mode as well if you want to get the most from your character in Tricky. If you don't have time to dive into the world circuit, you can always choose the single-event option for some quick-hit fun. You can also practice the runs included in the world circuit in the race option or go head-to-head with a friend in the multiplayer option. Save for the increased emphasis on the showoff mode, SSX Tricky's game design is nearly identical to that of the original SSX. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
The biggest change to SSX Tricky is its trick system, and because of the Xbox controller's button layout, EA Sports Big has had to remove a few tricks found in the PlayStation 2 version. If you've never played Tricky for the PS2, then you'll likely not miss the tricks that were cut from the game, and even with the omissions, there are more tricks to pull off than in any other Xbox snowboarding game. Pulling off various grabs, flips, and spins is accomplished by pressing combinations of the two shoulder buttons and the Y button. As an added twist to the original SSX formula, when your rider's adrenaline meter reaches the top, you have 20 seconds to perform one of each character's four uber tricks. The outlandish uber tricks come in a variety of forms such as performing breakdancing moves on top of the board while sailing through the air or lying flat on the board and spinning like a torpedo. Once an uber trick has been landed, you are awarded one letter toward spelling the word "tricky." When the entire word is complete, you receive turbo for the remainder of the race, which can often make the difference between finishing first and bringing up the rear. The addition of the new trick system makes an already exciting game even more invigorating, and it forces you to look at the courses in a new way.
Last year's SSX had a lot of personality, and EA Sports Big has decided to up the ante in this regard. Before each race, the other competitors are rated as allies, enemies, or neutral. Enemies will attempt to take you down if given the chance, allies will warn you of impending danger or attempt to shield you from attacks, and neutral riders will go about their business with little regard for others on the course. How you treat other riders affects their ratings for future races, so if you anger too many competitors by attacking them, it's going to be difficult to make it down the hill in one piece later on.