I want to put one thing out in the open right now; sports games aren’t exactly an area I venture through often. However, of the ones that I have played, the SSX snowboarding games have been the most memorable, particularly Tricky. Over-the-top tricks, characters with personality, wicked courses to ride through, it had the stuff necessary to separate it from the rest of the sports pack.
Enter the new SSX, a new generation update coming from Electronic Arts. Originally having the subtitle Deadly Descents, the game had been advertised as a darker, more mature entry to the series. It has since opened to blue skies once more, placing the tricks on the proverbial pedestal once more, rather than strictly surviving the ride down.
This was the version I managed to get my hands on for this sneak peek. The first thing I noticed when I got into the game was the course. While the ridiculous track design and racing structure that I was used to was missing, what it gained was a real world environment that you could shred however you wanted. Everything was wide open, waiting for me to leave my mark on the mountain. Fallen trees to grind, valleys to fly over, it was all present. The course itself also changed in real time, and players will need to contend with avalanches, collapsing snow piles, and other pratfalls that will try to throw off the unprepared.
The controls, however, did have that sense of familiarity. Don’t let the emphasis on real world locations over ludicrous course design fool you. The crazy riding is still very much present, and after a couple heavy spills during my initial run, I was busting flips in all directions and boosting off of natural ramps for insane airtime. The open world nature allowed me to use my own judgment as far as what to ride off of, and I found myself going from snow bank to snow bank, taking every opportunity I could to get some tricks in to pad my score. I also noticed the new addition of a flight suit that allowed you to travel farther distances. While I was told there wasn’t a use for it during the demo version I played, I couldn’t help but ponder the possible applications of its use.
I couldn’t get a whole lot of playtime with the game, since it was a very early build, but, from what I could gather, it’s coming along nicely. The structure may be different, but the crazy snowboarding action is still present, and the character personalities you know and love are all going to be riding with you. As long as those two factors are present, there’s little the game can do wrong.