SSX First Look Preview

EA Canada revisits the popular snowboarding franchise and unveils new details about SSX.

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When EA first revealed SSX: Deadly Descents, fans of the series were left scratching their heads wondering where their beloved snowboarding series had gone. For a franchise that is known for bright-colored outfits, vibrant characters, and, of course, the impossible tricks, it seemed as though EA was going for a more "serious" approach. If you haven't been following the developer diaries that we've been posting here, you should be happy to know that not only did EA drop the subtitle "Deadly Descents" but the developers are also working on relaunching the franchise by sticking to what it does best--crazy tricks and high-speed racing. Creative director Todd Batty gave a presentation at a recent EA Sports event in San Francisco to not only go over what SSX is known for, but to also go into detail about the new Survival mode, which is what we saw in the initial announcement trailer.

The Deadly Descents trailer that was released at the end of last year only represented one-third of SSX's gameplay. In the presentation, Batty introduced the three pillars of gameplay and described them as "Race It," "Trick It," and "Survive It." He then went on to give a high-level overview of what the team was aiming for in the new game. We didn't get to see any actual gameplay outside of a test bed (because they just got out of preproduction a month ago), so it looks like our first real look at the game is going to come at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June. The next part of the presentation briefly went over the fact that racing is one of the foundations of the game and the series, as well as the new game's online multiplayer and "social elements." More details on what that entails will have to wait, but Batty did go into some detail about the new physics. For the developer diary on the new physics, you can see that here.

SSX was never about realism, and even though the graphics are taking a more realistic approach--thanks to the advancement in technology--the gameplay will not. Like previous games, the physics will be overly exaggerated, so you'll once again be able to soar off of snow-covered cliffs without any worries, do as many flips as it takes to make you sick, and still manage to land board first. Batty talked about how the previous SSX games kept you confined with artificial boundaries as you made your way down the cold mountain, and he emphasized that fact with a few video clips from SSX3. No matter how much you pushed against a side wall on the track or how much momentum you gained, you'd be dragged back onto the main strip. In the new SSX, as long as you have the momentum, you can launch yourself into the air in any direction and traverse any part of the mountain--no boundaries. The developers put together some clips using the same terrain from SSX3 to demonstrate this, so you can see the snowboarder gather speed and basically do a full loop from the right side of a half pipe and land on the left. This is supposed to work off any surface regardless of the geometry; as long as you have the speed, you have the freedom to go where your board takes you. On the mountain, this lets you vault yourself onto other ledges and areas that you would otherwise miss if you kept to the ground. Not only that, but you'll also be able to get some big air from virtually anywhere as long as you've got the speed (and a big drop) to do the most death-defying tricks. We're incredibly curious to see the amount of freedom that this will allow and can't wait to see how it plays out.

Elise is no stranger to the mountains.

The darker, grittier scenes from the initial trailer and screenshots represented what would be the Survival mode where the goal is make your way safely down a treacherous mountain while battling the elements. Batty emphasized that it's not about dodging bullets or wielding any kind of weapons. The goal here is to mimic what's going on in the real world of boardercross, where extreme sports enthusiasts risk their necks traversing some of the most dangerous peaks in the world. The danger here, however, is Mother Nature, which can include and is not limited to snowstorms, avalanches, fog, and rock slides. The only thing that is being tracked as you blaze down the icy slopes is your speed and elevation. You'll have access to a wing suit (think of flying squirrels), an ice axe, and potentially other gear. Batty described it as, "Think of what Borderlands did for guns; we're going to try to do the same thing with gear." As seen in the trailer, the helicopter acted as our guide and our ticket to access other unexplored portions of the mountain. In the presentation, we saw how a snowboarder could leap off of a conveniently placed ramp and cling onto the rails of a hovering helicopter. Fear of heights is not an option.

The locations are going to be based on real-world mountains, and Batty mentioned that the goal is to create an extreme experience for players, taking them to vistas that they would likely never see. You can enjoy a sunset at the top of Mount Everest or hang out along the jagged peaks of Mont Blanc. To create this experience, EA Canada downloaded all of NASA's data of the topography of the planet, so the foundations of all the mountain ranges are drawn from real terrain. To make things interesting and more viable in the SSX world, however, layers have been added and runs have been molded. So you'll be able to do more tricks and find alternative paths.

Batty also talked about how the initial SSX had eight levels and SSX3 only had the illusion of an open mountain when it really wasn't open. He wants this game to be big, so he initially proposed 300 levels, thinking that the number always ends up shrinking throughout the development cycle anyway. Even so, 300 is a lofty number. What it has is 18 major mountain ranges that include 70 open mountains with multiple drop points in each. There's supposed to be somewhere between 200 and 300 drop points so that you'll get a different experience, depending on where you start. The fact that you can now virtually go anywhere will make each run unique.

"Darn, did I just chip my board?"

The final point that Batty touched on was the characters, and only Elise has been confirmed so far. The rest is up to the fans. A Facebook page has been set up to get fans to vote for characters they want to see return. We're assuming the major players will be back, like Mac and Zoe, and new faces will be added to the roster. Even though the characters and the environments have a new look, it seems like the developers are sticking to the familiar arcade-y gameplay we all know and love. We'll be getting more updates in the near future, so stay tuned for more details. SSX is currently scheduled to be released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in January 2012.

Discussion

70 comments
mehmoiyahpiko
mehmoiyahpiko

Guys Guys how do we vote for the characters to come back?

mehmoiyahpiko
mehmoiyahpiko

Guys i hope you all enjoyed SSX 3 and SSX On tour because this gameplay style is up on the mountains like those games, I for one cannot wait as up on the mountains gives it realism for some reason

mehmoiyahpiko
mehmoiyahpiko

well well finally something im looking forward to play on my PS3! I have played every SSX game and i hope to see the great snowboarders such as Psymon, Elise, Mac, Kaori, Moby, Nate and Allegra. Also a fully customisable character option would b great and being able to change characters outfits and boards. but im sure it will have that as it has on every ssx rely!

CEmarine88
CEmarine88

Better have Mac, Zoe, Moby, those classics. :)

issa3703
issa3703

..Finally the best ice skating return. :D :D

drummer131
drummer131

I've never played a SSX game before, but there's something about this realism that they've infused into the graphics that is now making this franchise appeal to me. They can still have the goofy characters and tricks, but the visual aesthetics are really cool here. I'm also a huge fan of how much content there seems to be. Also, the number of drop points...I've never heard something so awesome before. It's going to take a long time to explore everything.

doni107
doni107

Psymon, Luther, Eddy. [Things I don't have to think about]

GamerDude_53
GamerDude_53

I only played ssx 3 and on tour, and my favourite character was Griff from ssx 3 (probably because he was close to the same age as me at the time I played it) and so I hope they bring him back. Looking at this game coming out makes me want to play the other ones again, and the ones I haven't played yet.!

nima_metal90
nima_metal90

i never 4get the enjoyment i had wth ssx tricky&3 in ps2 i hope they put Nate & Mac in this game 2 definitely i'm goin2 buy it

Majkic666
Majkic666

if this is going to beat SSX tricky then its going to be EPIC!

CEmarine88
CEmarine88

No matter what this game brings..... it will never beat SSX 3

olomanna
olomanna

I dunno why I am skeptical... But I really want it!

termadoyle
termadoyle

5 words: "Holy **** it's finally here!"

Dualmask
Dualmask

"The final point that Batty touched on was the characters, and only Elise has been confirmed so far." They know who the best character is, apparently. It was already a guaranteed purchase just because it's SSX, but that sentence sealed the deal for me.

hellpolice
hellpolice

I'm excited about this SSX...might the best one since Tricky and that was an awesome game too! Definitely be following this one!

AirPortugall
AirPortugall

This game's gonna be awesome but...I want skiing again!!!

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

I don't like ssx games when all personalities has gone.I liked SSX and SSX Tricky but I don't even touch the 3.Well If developers have a prob with nationalities or political stuff,problem created with nothing else but themselves,well create all new national characters but with personality ,trash talk and everything that maked SSX so different from other games.Is to late to mention it?

Wellk
Wellk

I hope the characters talk trash again like in the first 2. The dialogue was one of my favorite things about Tricky.

dsgfbvdgshvbd
dsgfbvdgshvbd

they better bring back SIMON & MARTY!!! i hope this game gives us an amazing online experience!!! by the way 2012 is a long way to wait for this game!!!

M3ran
M3ran

woooow,i m getting this when it comes out,i always felt good when playing that game

Naxct
Naxct

man elise has been there from the beginning. she still looks hot

Naxct
Naxct

ssx will always be ma favorite franchise. also it was the first game i bought on ps2. live on like a legend ssx!!!

J-007
J-007

Just bring it! I am so freakin amped for this game! The most excited I have ever been in a long time for this favorite sports game to return! Best sports game under the developers in my life of gaming. I used to fully enjoy cool boarders 3 back in the day and now we got this sweet monster! Viva EA and SSX! I want to live with gaming like this for years till I die. **BIG SMILES**

disneyrich2001
disneyrich2001

AHH!/ Sophia you are in SF to see that!! Lucky!! :)I want a job like yours! :)

coolblackrain
coolblackrain

This sounds great, I remember playing SSX 3 and that is still a great game!!!

thebeav3
thebeav3

This looks awesome. I really hope this doesn't disappoint. I need my SSX fix

nini200
nini200

MAYA MAYA MAYA MAYA MAYA!!! EA put Maya in this game. If Maya makes it in, I'll buy it. Maya must be included. SHE IS LEGEND!!! Also where's the Wii and PC versions? Or if it's going to PS3, hopefully they'll be Move controls as well. The Wii controls were great minus the Uber moves.

MrPepino000
MrPepino000

CANT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

boom_city
boom_city

all i can say is its about time..

NoDzombie
NoDzombie

lookin good so far cant wait, sure hope they dont screw this up......

marvel456
marvel456

The graphics look fricken amazing! :D I really hope they would incorporate split-screen multiplayer offline and online then it would be my first purchase in 2012.

StaticPenguin
StaticPenguin

I pre-ordered this the other day. I know I've mentioned how the teaser trailer freaked me out but after watching the dev diaries and this video, I am super excited about this game. It looks like so much fun.

Byaku524
Byaku524

Definitely pre-ordering next to UC3. I just hope they add the people that don't make the cut as DLC.

Decon87
Decon87

That 2nd pic looks pretty... I'll most definitely be picking this game up, I haven't seen a good snowboarding game since the early PS2 days.

AtheistPreacher
AtheistPreacher

I almost never pre-order anything, but I'm totally pre-ordering this. I've been wondering why they didn't make another SSX game for many years. SSX 3 is one of my all-time favorite games in any genre.