The gameplay is tight, too, and definitely worth the price of admission. Now, I'll admit, I'm not a big fan of snowboarding, but this game isn't really about snowboarding -- it's more of a race-and-trick game that happens to be using snowboards. It works surprisingly well, and despite a few little glitches, it's a great ride.
There are three main modes of play: Race, Showoff, and Freestyle. In Race mode, you try to beat everyone else down the course. In Showoff mode, you have to get as many points as possible by pulling off tricks in mid-air. And in Freestyle mode, you go where your heart takes you; there's no time limit, no score to beat, and no pressure. All three have their place, and none feel extraneous or tacked-on.
It's absolutely crucial that you go down any new course (you only start with one, but open up more as you win World Circuit races) in Freestyle mode first. The tracks in SSX, besides being beautiful, are loaded with shortcuts. Generally, they're near the glass SSX signs, so keep a lookout. After running down a course a few times, you can have a general idea of how you want to race it, and where the places are that can score you the greatest trick points.
You can do one-off races and showoffs, which are a pleasant diversion, but the meat of the game is in the World Circuit mode. When you race in World Circuit mode, you've got to come in the top three in the first two races to get to the Finals. And depending on how you place in the Finals, you get a medal -- gold, silver, and bronze for first, second, and third respectively. Getting a medal on a course opens up the next track, and if you get a Gold, you'll unlock a new racer. And, besides all this, you get experience points to devote to your character.
This must be noted: SSX has four racers (at the start) that you can play with. Each one controls differently, pulls tricks off with differencing amounts of ease, and goes a certain speed. Finding the racer that suits your style is an important part of enjoying the SSX experience. And as you get medals on various courses, you get experience points to add to your character's stats. As you gain rank, you also get new boards, which raise the stats of your character themselves. All of this makes for a very customizable experience, and one where you feel that you're really progressing in the game as you play.
There are all sorts of tricks to pull off, and they usually involve the shoulder buttons and a rotation of the Analog Stick or two. They start off easy, but many of the tricks are damn hard to pull off right. At the beginning of the game, your character can't pull them all off anyways -- they have too low of a trick rating. You get points for doing tricks, but more importantly, you get Adrenaline, which is SSX's version of Turbo Boost. If you repeat a trick, however, you don't get as many points or as much adrenaline, so you've got to mix it up. And in the Showoff mode, there are crystals that double, triple (or even more) your score, letting you get the requisite points as you fly through the air.