SSX Blur Wii Review

Everyone checks the score first don’t they? It’s a bit low isn’t it! Well for me it is a SSX is a series I loved right from the very start. I still have the original PS2 release somewhere and you can quickly tell from the scratch-ridden finger print-laden mess the back of the disc is in that I got my value for money out of that game. In my mind Tricky made things even better and the equally deformed disc along with the half-eaten instruction manual – don’t ask! – can attest that. The abruptly named SSX 3 and the recently released On Tour were also a lot fun to play… so why after such a great run am I choosing to score Blur so low> Well the short answer is that it is just not very good.

The long answer would be…

We always complain that there are too many Wii games released nowadays that feel like the ‘waggle’ controls have been tacked on… in fact most of the launch line shared that very problem. Blur however does not – the controls actually feel like they were built for the game, but the complaints for the latest SSX actually come from the opposite end the criticism spectrum… it offers controls that are far too complicated. Generally speaking it is an extreme case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

The game uses both the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk controllers. Movement, acceleration, and jumping is controlled through the Nunchuck – which all works quite well. The Wii-mote however is a mess as it is used to create tricks and throw snowballs at targets or foes during a race. It is this complexity that the Wii-mote needs that makes the whole game a chore to play. When I played the older games I found performing tricks were actually more fun than winning a race and sadly doing tricks are now nigh on impossible to perform with any kind of consistency. Grab tricks in Blur will most likely result in anger as it involves use of both the Wii-mote and Nunchuck – you press A to start then twist and tilt the Nunchuck to perform before pressing A or B again to land it. This really does take some getting use to and even if you do figure it out eventually there is really no payoff for the time you spent doing so. The same goes for flips and rating the board; in fact doing anything with your rider that does not involve keeping your board in contact with the snow is not much fun.

The game’s trademark ‘Ubertricks’ are where the real pain comes in and quite honestly this idea should have been nipped in the bud at the first ‘Lets Make SSX Blur‘ meeting. Doing an Ubertrick involves first jumping then drawing on the screen with the Wii-mote and if you draw the right shape you do an Ubertrick. Now, for the first few tricks available this works ok. You can easily draw a simple line or a Z-shape without too much effort and watch some extra points rack up. As you advance these drawings get harder and you’re tasked with drawing stuff such as hearts and lines with a collection circles and unfortunately the demand to get the shape is far too precise meaning you will be messing up more times than the game is worth.

It’s a pity though as the rest of the game is well laid out. The single player modes let you duck and dive in and out of all the events at ease. If you are finding the latter events too much a chore then you can try and better yourself on the early ones. The game also never seems to hold you back as you don’t have to complete all events in a particular tournament to unlock the next. Bettering your rider is done in the same way as usual by letting you add extra stat points if you do well in certain events. Graphically the game is a few steps above what was on show in SSX 3 and On Tour, but there is nothing truly jaw-dropping about it – even when only viewed in 480p. While playing there is a nice amount of detail on screen and most tracks have something exciting happening on them that would be worth a second look. However, stuff like this is almost second nature to the series and does not stand out as much as it once did. The game however does have a fantastic sense of speed – more so that other iterations – and at times you really do feel like you’re hurtling down a mountainside.

In all honesty I will admit that the people that would get the most enjoyment out of Blur would most likely be those that – unlike me – have never spent any solid time with the SSX series before. Personally the old analog and button controls of previous efforts are now too far engrained in my mind to just let go and enjoy Blur for what it is. Nevertheless some of the controls could have been refined much more to make letting go of the old and embracing the new and little bit easier.

The one paragraph answer would be…

Ultimately the biggest problem with Blur is that it feels far too awkward controller for its own good. Even if you are a seasoned gamer with many years under your belt it will be at least a hour or two until you fully figure out the controls and most likely a full day until you feel at ease with them. Now, for a console that was billed as being ‘for everyone’ and was supposed to take away the confusion that a controller brings this can be considered nothing other the highly disappointing. There is a fun game deep inside SSX Blur, but in the end the game fails under the weight of it own eccentricities.

Entertaining for those of us graced with infinite patience.

6.9 out of 10

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