Preview: SSX

Wise men once said “It’s tricky to rock a rhyme, to rock a rhyme that’s right on time. It’s tricky.” No truer words have ever been spoken, as they accompanied the release of SSX Tricky in 2001, ensuring the series a place in many a gamers heart. After the phenomenal SSX 3 and surprisingly good SSX On Tour, the main series went on hiatus. That was six years ago, with only a dodgy Wii spin-off to it’s name since then.

Of course by now you know how the story is going to end; the new SSX game is out in January, which was first revealed to be dark and edgy, and people didn’t like it. Now it’s a bit closer to it’s roots. We had the extreme pleasure of sitting down with the game and seeing a small portion of what the final version will have to offer.

For those that haven’t been following the game too closely, you may not have heard that EA Sports is using satellite imagery to accurately map actual mountain ranges for you to board down. Including the Alps, Kilimanjaro, the Rockies, and the Himalayas among many more. You are will get to see a lot of real life slopes and a number of fantasy courses. Of course, the fine men and women over at EA Sports have done small modifications here and there, like adding snow ramps and grind rails, to make them more fun and better suited to the play style of SSX.

On the point of the play style. The game plays like the SSX you know and love, that will see the player Swooshing left and right as they cut up the snow, jumping off ramps to do ridiculous tricks that build up a boost meter that allows you to do even more ridiculous tricks. If you do them ridiculously enough, you enter Tricky mode, which allows you to perform Uber tricks.

The game is absolutely stunning to look at. The rooster tail from your wake reflecting the colors of the setting sun, as a helicopter overhead whips up a small vortex of snow. Your character then leaps off a ramp to perform a beautifully animated trick, giving you a brief glimpse of the rest of the course as it winds down the mountain. Of course it doesn’t have the bright neons of that gave the older games some of their charm, but it’s made up for with higher definition.

This may be just for the demo version or for avalanche susceptible runs, but on one of the courses there was a grid overlay that not only gave an indication of how steep some of the sides were, but also rippled when landing big tricks. These ripples eventually set off an avalanche, however we did not see that in what we played. The avalanches are part of the survival mode though, tasking you with racing down the mountain to evade an avalanche that may or may not be your fault.

SSX is only a few months away from release, but I really can’t wait to get my hands on he finished product. EA Sports has teased that some of the open world stuff from SSX 3 that will be available, which is one of the main reasons it is regarded as the best title in the series. Let’s hope in that time they bring back the BIG label, for old times sake.

Stay Tuned.