Electronic Arts takes to the slopes and tries to reinvent its snowboarding showcase

I must have spent half my adult life playing various Tony Hawk skateboarding simulators, so I had high hopes for Electronic Arts’ SSX, a game which threatens to ‘pit riders against both mountain and man’. Yet somewhere in the transition from baggy skater shorts to wraparound snow goggles and luminous ski wear I’ve lost in all interest in hurtling around on a plank of wood. You see, in the Tony Hawk universe it seemed perfectly natural to grind your way along a pavement or whizz around the railings of a cruise ship, but I found pulling stunts off an oil-pipe halfway down a mountain faintly ridiculous.

SSX can be played in various modes, including a narrative strain with a nasty villain called Griff; Deadly Descents, where your only aim is to get to the bottom in one piece; regular races against computer opponents; and special trick challenges. You even get to race with just a headlamp in near total darkness.

EA claims the mountain ranges are accurately mapped from NASA satellite imagery and they certainly look spiffy in HD, while the soundtrack thumps away defiantly. The problem here is the gameplay – the physics are odd and the learning curve, for me at least, is quite steep. And there’s no split-screen two-player mode – you can go online for multiplayer fun, but face it – they’re all going to be so much better at it than you...

Electronic Arts, Xbox 360/PS3, £50 Approx, On sale now