Jonny Moseley Mad Trix Preview

3DO is working on this trick-themed skiing game for the PlayStation 2. Read our hands-on report to find out if it can compare to other extreme sports games on the market.

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With the deluge of extreme sports games hitting the market ranging from inline skating to riding Razor scooters, it was only a matter of time before an extreme skiing game would be announced. Hoping to find a niche in what has long been considered a niche market, 3DO is currently developing the first freestyle skiing game for the PlayStation 2: Jonny Moseley's Mad Trix. We recently received an updated preview build of the game, and its form has finally begun to take shape.

Press start for fun!
Press start for fun!

Mad Trix kicks off with a video montage depicting the game's namesake pulling off some impressive tricks interspersed with footage of him partying down. As he and his group of friends retreat from the party, Moseley asks, "What would it be like if it snowed in San Francisco?" This is the only setup for the game's interesting courses. As is the case with most games of its ilk, Mad Trix is all about being extreme. This translates into large cities and ancient civilizations besieged by piles of the white stuff, where it would normally be far too warm to warrant such precipitation.

And you're off!
And you're off!

Like most other board-influenced extreme sports games, the object of Jonny Moseley's Mad Trix is to accumulate as many trick points as possible while cruising down any the game's 10 courses. The pace of the game is decidedly slower than most other games in the genre, but this is somewhat remedied by the liberal placement of objects to use for performing airs and grinds. Skier icons located on objects along the courses will increase your combo score once collected, and there are other power-ups that will temporarily increase your speed so that you may cross especially wide gaps. As in Nintendo's 1080 Snowboarding for the Nintendo 64, you begin each game in a lodge where you select from two primary gameplay modes: slopestyle and big mountain. The two modes are basically the same in that you have high score benchmarks to reach, but the big mountain courses are locked at the game's outset. Once the high scores are attained, new skis, skiers, gear, and courses become available for selection. You begin the game with just three riders unlocked who are rated in five categories. There's a nice mixture of real extreme skiers and fantasy characters included in the game, but in this early build it's difficult to feel the differences between the riders, save for their speed rating. In addition to the two primary gameplay modes, there's also a freeride option that helps you learn the courses and a ski school to teach you the ins and outs of the control scheme.

Controlling your skier in Mad Trix is almost identical to how it's done in EA Sports Big's SSX series. The X button is used to jump, the four shoulder buttons are used for a variety of grabs, holding the directional pad before lifting off lets you prewind your spin and flip tricks, and the triangle button is used for grinds. You even have the ability to ski backward, though controlling your skier in this orientation can be difficult. Rider control is adequate in this early version we've received, but with the lack of speed in the game, this should be expected. The only major issue with the control is that you sometimes bail a trick if you're not perfectly oriented to the ground when you land. 3DO has stated that this is something it's working on, so it should not be a concern.

The man.
The man.

The part of the game that seems to still need the most tweaking is the graphics. The courses are huge, and it can be fun to grind along the arches of the Golden Gate Bridge in the San Francisco course or cruise past the ancient statues in the Machu Picchu course. Each area appears unique from the others and is complete with the appropriate landmarks to make it seem authentic and has dozens of different lines to choose from. In the Washington, D.C., course you can ride by the Washington Monument, and you'll find plenty of recognizable structures in the neon-lit Las Vegas course as well. Rider animation is adequate, but it currently fails to attain the fluidity found in many other competing games. Special effects, such as snow flying off skis, have yet to be included, and the camera still has problems following your skier as he or she navigates the more cramped areas on the courses. Another problem that should be cleared up before the game ships is its erratic frame rate. But with the sprawling courses included in the game this can be expected from a game that has yet to be optimized. While the courses are huge and there's a great deal of geometry onscreen at once, 3DO still has some work to do to get the graphics in Jonny Moseley's Mad Trix up to par. There's still quite a bit of draw-in and texture shimmering throughout the game, and hopefully 3DO can clean up these problems before the game is released.

3DO has licensed several bands for the soundtrack to Mad Trix, and thus far it's the highlight of the game. While you won't find any chart-toppers in the track listing, the mix of hip-hop and grunge rock fits the style of the game rather nicely. The sound effects can seem a bit understated at times, but the skis will emit different sounds depending on the terrain your skis are sliding over.

Jonny Moseley's Mad Trix is the first extreme skiing game available on any platform and therefore should acquire some interest from fans of the sport. There are a healthy number of tricks, a wide variety of courses, and plenty of features to unlock. The graphics still need some tweaking, and the speed of the game could use a boost, but hopefully 3DO will take the time to iron out all the bugs and issues currently included in the game to deliver a great-playing extreme skiing game.

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