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Who shot our SSX?

Opinion: Tom Pakinkis thinks the shooter generation has claimed another victim...

I didn't bother to ask my parents for a PS2 for Christmas way back in 2000. The chances of getting your hands on one back then were so slim I thought I'd dodge brand new disappointment by sticking to the usual and finishing my Christmas list with, 'A puppy'.

When my brother and I tore back the paper on a present billed by my parents as a "late entry" only to reveal the PlayStation 2 itself, then, I was overwhelmed by excitement and a little bit suspicious of my Dad's methods.

SSX was the game accompanying the machine, recommended by a particularly sage shop assistant as the best example of what the next-gen tech could do at the time. He wasn't far wrong either. The leap between PlayStation and PlayStation 2 was epic and SSX was a perfect demonstration of the jump, 360 flying squirrels and all.

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The snow covered celebration looked and felt great; the defined trail your board cut into the powder, the change in sound as you slid on to the sharp baby blue ice, the sense of speed you felt as you boosted down the slopes with the wind rumbling past your ears and the sense of tension and achievement you got from neatly weaving in and out of objects would appeal to anyone - snow fan or not.

The important bit, though, is that SSX was colourful, over the top and silly. Whether it was because of brightly coloured characters, physics-defying jumps or a mashed-up club soundtrack, it was fun.

It's fair to say then that SSX has always occupied a small but special portion of my heart. Whether you preference lies with SSX3, Tricky or (reaching slightly...) On Tour, I'm pretty sure it isn't just the nostalgia talking when I say that, in a lot of ways, even the original PS2 showpiece still stands up today.

Ten years later and the series - which has seen peaks and troughs at various points depending on which way you lean - has ailed somewhat, forcing EA Sports down Reboot Road, at the bottom of which we find SSX: Deadly Descents.

The title alone should have rung alarm bells. Deadly? SSX was never deadly. Crazy maybe, but never deadly. I didn't think too much of it though, I was just pleased to be told that the SSX franchise was alive and well.

Then, over the weekend, I was going through some of the footage that had come out of the VGAs when I stumbled over a dark little trailer from EA Sports. "What's this?" I thought as a weather-beaten helicopter trembled over a blizzard wrapped mountain. "Maybe something Medal of Honor related," I pondered. "Snowboarding DLC? That's an odd move." And then it dawned on me, "This is SSX".


Except it isn't, is it? It isn't the colourful, Cool Runnings styled, loopy, lycra clad cavalcade of board based fun. Instead it's been interpreted by many as an attempt to jump on a bandwagon that was never meant for anything even remotely close to SSX.

With a gun metal, soot covered black and white backdrop, clichéd Matrix font status text and dialogue that's all "Go, go go!" this and "I'm not gonna make it!" that. This doesn't look like SSX at all; it's 'Snowboarding: Black Ops', it's 'Gears of Snow', it's 'Winter Olympics of Honor'. It looks wrong.

OK, so we haven't even seen let alone played any of the new game yet - it could be fantastic fun - but the worst part is that, in presentation at least, Deadly Descents' new visual style is all our fault - yours and mine.

As gaming consumers we've lapped up the Call of Dutys, the two-toned Gears of Wars, the grin-free Battlefield and the ever so solemn Killzone. We've spent so long with our heads in the mushroom cloud of war that we've effectively forced the hand of EA Sports - and who can blame the publisher?

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