When I was a teenager, I became somewhat obsessed with the Elektra record label. At some point, I guess I’d noticed that a lot of my favorite bands were on Elektra, and then I noticed that a bunch of albums that I’d been listening to had consecutive catalog numbers, which (I presume) meant that they all came out one right after the other. Which was kind of cool, in a nerdy sort of way. In my dreams of future rock stardom, I wanted to sign with them – they obviously signed the bands that I liked, and I wanted them to like me.
(The music industry being what it is, I must admit that I was surprised that there was still an official Elektra website to link to when I typed the previous paragraph. )
In my 20s, my allegiance to Elektra switched, rather dramatically, to Thrill Jockey. Two of my favorite bands (The Sea and Cake, Tortoise) were TJ mainstays, and my hero, John McEntire, seemingly had his hands on almost the entirety of their catalog. TJ was the epitome of cool, and I must admit that there was a time when I thought about moving to Chicago just to be near it.
Now that I’m in my mid-30s, I could care less about record labels. I’m not in a band anymore, and the little music that I’ve managed to make these days has been made with the intention of eventual sale. I don’t need a label to get my music heard; I can stick it on the internet and be done with it.
This would be a good time as any to talk about Double Fine’s outrageously successful Kickstarter campaign, but that isn’t where I was going with this. Frankly, this whole music label prelude has nothing to do with anything, other than that by this point next week, I will be fully involved with 3 EA-published games – KoA: Reckoning, SSX, and Mass Effect 3. I can’t really remember the last time something like that happened, and especially with EA, a company that I’d taken great pains to actively loathe for a long, long time. But here we are, and I suspect I’m not the only one in this position, either.
Sooooo, anyway, yes. SSX. My first must-play title of 2012. I was madly in love with both Tricky and SSX3 on the original Xbox, and the wait for a good sequel has been interminable. Indeed, the wait for a good snowboarding game in general has been interminable – I don’t think I’ve played one since Amped 3, and that game was more memorable for its cutscenes than its actual gameplay…
I’m torn, is the thing. On the one hand, it’s really nice to have SSX back in my life. The game looks and sounds great, and it’s got a number of awesome features – the online functionality is super-slick (as is the entire EA Autolog initiative), and there’s tons to do, and it’s fun as hell.
On the other hand, I suck at it. I don’t remember being this bad at previous SSX games. I am constantly fucking up, left and right, restarting runs over and over and over again, to the point where frustration leads to resignation and logging off. I’m progressing through the career mode slowly but surely, but I feel like it’s because the game is overly generous in its post-race awards. And I’m not really sure what it is I’m doing wrong, except that I haven’t unlocked the good equipment yet, or something. I am consistently 2nd or lower in races, and in trick events, there are times when I’ll look up to see my AI opponents with 1,000,000 point leads before I’ve even started my first jump.
So it’s a little frustrating, especially since I really really want to love it to pieces, being that I dearly love the franchise and I really want to enjoy the tons of content on the disc. Practice makes perfect, I suppose, but maybe I’m just too old.