SSX has never taken itself too seriously. With its outrageous cast and arsenal of over-the-top, spin-the-board-around-your-body tricks, the series has always placed fun above realism on its slopes. While the initial trailer had some people worried that this formula might get flipped on its head, you can rest assured that the madness is still intact. At this year's Electronic Arts Vegas Game Show, we caught up with art director Geoff Coates and got our hands on the latest version of the game.
Since the game's announcement, the SSX roster has now grown from the original trio of Mac, Elise, and Kaori to include veterans Moby, Psymon, Zoe, Griff, and Eddie (as a preorder bonus). In addition, supermodel Alex, surfer dude Tane, and snowboarding legend Ty are some of the new faces you can expect to find on the slopes.
In terms of playable characters, Moby was the only new arrival. With him selected, we headed to Siberia, where we were able to grind on another wide-open track with plenty of half-buried power plants and exposed cables. While the tracks are nonlinear, it does help to know the general routes through them. In our initial run of Siberia, we constantly missed jumps and wasted time shifting left or right across the track as we switched lanes.
Inevitably, we would tumble off a cliffside or wipe out after a jump. At first, we just had to live with the shame until we discovered we could rewind time. With the press of a button, our character would zip back into pre-crash position and allow us to take another pass. In the demo, we could rewind as long as we liked without consequence, but the final release will not be so forgiving. While the specific details aren't set, there will be a limit to and penalty for rewind use.
For the Patagonia survival track, we had to relinquish control to one of the EA representatives because it wasn't quite finished. Unlike the previous survival track we saw, which had Elise attempting to outrun a roaring avalanche, this one focused on jumping gaps. You make these jumps using the wingsuit, which imbues your boarder with all the aerial grace of a flying squirrel. However, using the wingsuit meant our character couldn't perform tricks, so if you want to get the highest score, you'll want to use it as little as possible.
The Explore and Global Event online modes, detailed at Gamecom, were not on display. Explore is all about setting records, uploading ghost data, and competing with your friends. Global Events are also about competing with your friends, and strangers, in massive global tournaments that boast more than "100,000 players" at once. When asked to clarify this, Coates said you'll be racing against groups composed of other players with times near your own. As you defeat them, new groups are generated for you.
We also learned that the extra-long alpine boards seen in SSX Tricky won't be making a return, though the remaining boards will still vary wildly in performance. Further details about the game's copious amounts of gear are still under wraps, but we'll be sure to keep you updated as we learn more. SSX will be released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in January 2012.