A friend of mine got this game today (came out this week), and I've had a chance to play the PS2 version for a little while. Keep in mind I haven't unlocked a lot yet -- I haven't really had a chance to explore the game completely. Compared to SSX 3 (my favorite entry in the series), SSX: On Tour definitely has gone in a different direction. Lots has been written about the game's "HS punk notebook" style, which favors rock and metal over the standard snot-punk stuff EA usually shovels on us (hey, snot-punk isn't always a bad thing). As usual, some of the music is great, other tracks "eh", others "blech". If you don't have a fondness for banshee hair metal, you might seriously consider removing some of the tracks from your playlist -- though I haven't checked to see if this is even possible. The DJ voice is gone. Some people miss him, others will rejoice. I liked him in SSX 3, but hated him in Burnout 3. Go figure. Oddly enough, the graphics in SSX:OT are not quite as nice as they were in SSX 3. They're just not as crisp or clean. This new game has lots of colorful fuschia "rock stage" lighting effects, not to mention speed-blurring effects, which probably account for any graphical sacrifices. The problem with these lighting and motion effects, even beyond the cheesy aesthetic, is that they make the framerate choppy, even on the Xbox version. And for me, framerate is an extremely underrated and important aspect to any game, one that even ambitious developes (Rare, for instance) ignore at their own peril. No reviews have yet fully explored the ramifications of the streamlined trick system in SSX:OT. Gone is the complicated (and fun) multi-tier trick system from SSX 3. Gone are uber and super-uber tricks. That only leaves regular tricks (your standard grabs, flips, etc.) and slow-motion "monster tricks". While there are two levels of trick meter (yellow and magenta), I still haven't figured out what the differences are, if any. The paper-thin instruction book and sparse in-game tips are not useful in explianing more complicated tricks, if they exist at all. Also gone is online play, although there is a split-screen multiplayer with graphical "de-hancements". I don't have online access, so this absence doesn't matter to me, but I'm sure some will be disappointed. Although I've heard you can buy new tricks as you progress, I haven't done this yet. That said, the initial monster tricks are quite boring. First of all, they're too easy to pull off -- you just hold the right analog stick in any of four directions when you're in the air, and the camera swivels around your character and time slows down. (Think "Prince of Persia") In this mode you can pivot your character, tweak his move, etc. It's a neat effect, and it gives you a closer look at your character, but sometimes I wish I could just pull off a big insane trick without all the camera fuss. You can stop monster tricks at any time, so there's no timing strategy. All you have to do is release the stick before hitting the ground, and you land perfectly & automatically. I do miss "working up" to some insane, inhuman "helicoper" or "hands-free" trick. I just hope there are tricks like that in this game and I just haven't come across them yet, but so far, no go. Maybe SSX has returned to its, ahem, "realistic" roots? So, the hardest part about pulling off a big trick becomes filling up your trick meter. It is far more difficult this time to fill your meter, and also much easier to crash. Crashes are a little more spectacular, too. These elements of the game I actually prefer over SSX 3, where I found it far too easy to build and retain ridiculous amounts of boost power, and far too easy to automatically reset after a spill. That said... I dislike the speed boost effect, which slows down the framerate and cuts off around 25% of the screen. It's sort of a rush, I'll admit, but it should be saved for special circumstances, not just every little blip of boost. The tracks, by the way, are nicely designed, and very dense with rails and jumps. A lot more vertical action, especially in the redwoods. There's also a lot less of "off-track reset glitch areas". In fact, I haven't found one! The whole game, like SSX 3, still seems to exist on one long track (or "mountain"), but unless you dig in the menus and try "free ride" early on, you'll have to wait to unlock more to see exactly how the tracks connect. The very real sense of geography from SSX 3 is missing. There's not the feeling that you're opening up new mountains, or exploring new paths. All the areas sort of look the same. It's scattered, episodic... there is a "map" but it's a vague illustration of a mountain with lots of dotted lines. A race icon here, a challenge icon there... you never do know exactly where they're going to set you down, or how long down the track the finish line will be set. No more crazy characters, either. You create generic characters to play and give them crazy haircuts and outfits -- but so far, no playable weirdos from earlier SSX games, like Psymon, Kaori, Eddie, etc. I did see "Psymon's Restaurant" in the game somewhere so I know they must be around. I have heard this game is NOT progressive-scan compatible on the PS2. I don't have a compatible display so I can't verify this rumor, but if it's true, it's a truly baffling exclusion, because I think SSX 3 had 480p support. For me it doesn't top SSX 3. SO FAR. Like I said, it's still very early in the game. It IS a blast, don't get me wrong, and I like that it's oddly stylized (the presentation is off-beat, though definitely aimed at a younger audience), and the collection, air-time, and knock-down stages add great variety into the mix. But overall I miss the complicated trick system, incredibly crisp graphics, and overall "smoother" atmosphere of SSX 3. I can't help but feel SSX:OT is a creatively ambitious step back for the series. Or maybe just a half-step. I hope more time with the game proves me wrong.