I hate the winter. It’s cold, my heating bill soars, I have to shovel, and my beautiful lawn is covered in snow. If there’s one good thing that comes out of it, is all of the fun you can have playing in the snow. There’s skiing, snowboarding, sledding, making snowmen—it’s my second favorite powdery white substance (I’m talking about sugar; get your mind out of the gutter!). But there’s no better way to play in the snow than with SSX. I can stay warm but still enjoy the slopes. It’s been a while since we had a real SSX, so snow has mostly been a drag. Thankfully, the series is back; better than ever, and in high-definition.
It feels a lot like previous SSX games or even the old Tony Hawk games—you know, the good ones. A helicopter drops one of the handful of characters down a snowy slope filled with obstacles, rails and sweet jumps. EA Canada has used real life locations like the Himalayas and the Rockies, and NASA geographic data to create each level. But that’s where the realism ends.
Hit a jump at breakneck speeds and you can pull off 2160 degrees of rotation, in various poses, only to land right on your board and keep on going. We wouldn’t have it any other way. Pulling off those moves can be done with either the face buttons or by using the right analog stick. We found a combination of both to work best, by using the X button (PS3 version) to pop up, but then switch to the analog stick for the actual moves. It all feels tight and polished.
If you played any of the old SSX titles, then you won’t struggle with the controls. New to your arsenal of impossible to pull off moves is a flying-squirrel like glide using the “wingsuit”. Like MC Hammer pants, you spread your loose-fitting suit to glide across longer jumps and caverns. However, you can’t perform tricks during this, so use it sparingly.
Areas are wide open with multiple pathways to choose. It’d be pretty tough to play the same stage in the exact same way; there are that many options for making jumps, grinding, or tricks. Even if you happen to run into walls, you can now trick off them, so there’s a feeling of being able to perform tricks almost the entire way down the mountainside, racking up some seriously high scores. If you happen to screw up and face plant on that sweet jump, there’s a new rewind button that turns back time allowing you to give it another go. It’s funny to watch your character go in reverse after spending so much time swooping down the slope at mind-numbing speeds.
Aside from what we’ve outlined here, there is still plenty we haven’t seen. SSX will have online modes and plenty of unlockable boards with different attributes to help keep you entertained. Instead of traditional leaderboards, you’ll see your friend’s ghosts as you race, trick and explore, showing you not only how well they did, but how they did it. A new online mode called Global Event can last for hours or days with up to 100,000 participants. Crazy stuff.
SSX is appropriately pegged for a January release in 2012.