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SSX Blur

Preview: Hands-on with EA's Wii-working of SSX

As is always the issue with Wii, the big question for SSX Blur is how well its extreme stunt control system would convert to the Wii Remote.

The good news is that not only has EA put together a great control system, but it's also managed to get the Wii pumping out some pretty smooth visuals in a new art style. And there's also the mandatory funky soundtrack in there too.

EA could have simply opted to use a conventional control system for SSXB. You know - analogue stick to steer, D-Pad buttons to perform stunts. But where's the Wii fun in that? Instead, the game uses a mix of tilting motions on both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk controller to get your boarder gliding through the snow performing tricks.

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Steering is handled by twisting the Nunchuk left and right, while acceleration and braking is achieved by pushing the analogue stick forward and backward. It took some getting used to - we were playing the game like a blind man for the first half-an-our as our control pad-trained mind wanting to steer with the analogue stick.

Performing stunts are just as mind-bending at first, too. You leap off ramps by flicking the Nunchuk upwards. Once in the air, stunts are performed using small movements of the Wii Remote. Flick the Remote left or right and your boarder will spin in the corresponding direction. You tilt the Remote backward or forward to perform backflips and somersaults, and holding the A or B buttons get your boarder performing flashy grabs and kicks.

SSX Blur also features a new Grove meter which charges up as you race at high speed or performing stunts. With a high level of Grove you will be able to perform the super-extreme Uber stunt, activated by moving the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in bigger, more complex patterns.

So you fly off a ramp and wave the Remote in a 'Z' shape, for example, and you'll pull off one of a selection of crazy Uber stunts that sends your boarder into a fit of spins and grabs.

With all these different movements to learn it takes a while for everything to sink in but once you get the hang of it, SSXB feels natural and can be played just as well as with a controller. It doesn't allow you to achieve anything that you couldn't with a pad and we begrudge anyone who says that this feels more like real snowboarding, because you don't steer a real snowboard by twisting your wrists. Try that down a mountain and you'll meet a tree.

But this new, more physical way of playing definitely offers a better experience. Seeing your virtual board cut through the snow was always satisfying in past SSX games, but that satisfaction is amplified now you're twisting your whole hand as you scrape round bends.

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Controls aside, SSXB will feel otherwise feel totally familiar to fans of the series. The main mode is all about competition, including races, stunt runs and half-pipes, for you to become the king of three mountains.

Just like before, you're free to board down the side of the mountains as you please, and you enter events by going to the area where they're taking place. As you go through the main career, you earn new clothes and equipment for your boarder to improve performance and well as their dressing style.

Also familiar to fans will be the over-the-top special effects and slick visual style of SSXB. It's all in there - the fireworks that erupt as you leap from stupidly high ramps, the huge jumps that give you spectacular views of the entire course - it looks brilliant.

The snow looks fluffier and more natural than ever, and when your boarder recovers from a nasty tumble you'll see his clothes covered in the white stuff. It snows constantly on the hundreds of trees, add in the sun glare and the huge draw distances and this is one of the best-looking games on Wii so far.

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