I was going to give my first impressions on Football Manager Live this week, but I think that can wait seven more days since I need a bit more time with it. So far, I’m addicted, but I get addicted to most MMOs during my first week with them, so that doesn’t mean much. Anyway, I doubt you guys are thinking too much about soccer after that amazing Superbowl; it was epic. It was so epic that I couldn’t drag my weary eyes away from it despite the ungodliness of the hour. The intricacies of American football remain perplexing to me, but an American friend politely informed me that most of his countrymen regard soccer the exact same way. I guess you can keep your football and we can keep ours, although I wouldn’t mind some naughty cheerleaders transferring across to our side. Having said that, I wouldn’t envy them having to wear skimpy skirts during our nippy mid-season; there’s nothing sexy about blue legs, no matter how much of them you can see.
Talking of the cold, it actually snowed here in London over the last two days, an event that’s a magical rarity in this neck of the woods (and a highly disruptive one). Don’t quote me on this, but I think it’s been about four years since it last snowed in England, because I can remember chucking snowballs at my girlfriend, whom I’d only just started dating. What could have been timeless romance became a haunting disaster when a well-timed pitch endowed her forehead with a bruise the size of Spain. Not only did stepping onto the snow yesterday remind me of that nightmare, but it also set me on a short and tenuous train of thought, the likes of which have graced this column in the past, just like this one is going to grace todayÃ¯Â¿Â½s.
It was a warm September, and I was wondering around Leicester Square when I came up to its small, central park. There I saw the unexpected and bizarre sight of two men performing parkour over quad bikes – you’ve not seen anything until you’ve seen a dude somersault of a quad bike, then somersault back over it. These guys weren’t just larking about, but were actually promoting Disney Interactive Studio’s off-road racer Pure. Now, I’ll admit that I didn’t know much about the game, and that I was disenchanted by the Disney association, but since the organisers had lined up a bunch of Xbox 360s to convert skeptics like myself, as well as a bunch of free-running dudes for reasons as tenuous as this train of thought, I decided it was only fair to try their game. Sure enough, a quick playthrough converted me; it reminded me of SSX 3 but with quad bikes instead of snowboards, and that was fine by me because SSX 3 was one seriously kickass game – now I was interested.
There was a glut of games coming out at that time, so I ended up purchasing Pure a couple of months later, when it had come down in price by 75%, a drop that implies it didn’t sell too well over here. I guess those parkour dudes just didn’t put enough heart into it, which is a shame because overall the game proved to be fun, although not nearly as much fun as my first playthrough suggested it would be. The bikes felt appreciably ragged over the bumps and mud of Pure’s challenging tracks, all set against some stunning vistas in the background. The racing gameplay was tight, with a strong learning curve, but the tricks system was neither interesting nor outrageous like SSX 3’s was, and neither mode was able to keep the game compelling towards the end of the excessively drawn-out single player campaign. Like I said, Pure was a fun game, but not as remarkable as it looked like it might be, and definitely not the heir to the legacy set down by the mighty SSX 3.
All Pure did was stoke the mushrooming fire in my heart, the burning desire for a new SSX game to finally be made. If there’s anything that will benefit from making the leap to this generation of consoles, it’s Electronic Arts’ SSX franchise. For one, SSX 3 was begging for online integration; its timed score events, chaotic races and preposterous tricks would be amplified by leaderboards, an online vs. mode, and a YouTube-esque video system. Then there’s the graphical power of the PS3 and Xbox 360, and what both systems could do for the gorgeous SSX 3 canvas and its surprisingly diverse range of aesthetics – could you imagine sliding down the chaos of a high-definition version of Peak 3’s shadowy zenith? For me, the biggest potential draw to a new SSX game would be the creation of an entire snow resort, similar to how Paradise City was created for Burnout Paradise. It’s a concept that SSX 3 was hinting at, since you could snowboard all the way from Peak 3’s top to Peak 1’s bottom, which made the peaks feel interconnected and the resort cohesive. The evolution of this design would be a snow resort to match any real-life resort — a sandbox playground for madcap snowboarders. It would be the fruition of what SSX 3 and Burnout Paradise conceived, and it would be absolutely breathtaking.
Now we’ve come full circle via my tenuous train of thought, since it was stepping onto that snow yesterday that reminded me that it’s been over a year since Burnout Paradise came out – that’s over a year since the notorious DJ Atomika first hinted over Paradise City’s airwaves that a new SSX game was coming that winter. Well, winter’s come and gone Atomika – where the hell is my new SSX game? The snow from yesterday has already dried up; SSX is the closest poor British dudes like myself can get to snowboarding. What are we supposed to do whilst we wait for a new one, huh?
Oh yeah; Football Manager Live. Gotcha.