SSX 3 Impressions

We watched the PS2 version of the next SSX game in action at E3 2003.

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EA Games graciously invited us to its E3 booth to take an up-close look at SSX 3, the next snowboarding game from EA Sports Big. A quick glance at the game's logo reveals the basic premise of the game; like the SSX 3 logo, the actual game will feature three separate peaks as part of a single, gigantic mountain. The game will feature a cast of returning characters from the previous two games, as well as four new characters: Vigo, Nate, Griff, and the cover girl for SSX 3, Allegra.

In the game's regular single-player modes, you'll begin at the top of the third and lowest peak, competing on the stunt course for cash prizes that will earn you enough money for a plane ticket up to the next peak. Once you've advanced your career far enough, you'll be able to take a continuous ride from the top of the first peak, to the second peak, and to the third peak in a single course. However, the mountain itself will be humongous; the game's developers have estimated that going down the entire mountain from the top in a single run may take as long as a whopping 30 minutes of continuous gameplay, made possible by special streaming technology that will constantly load new areas while you speed down the slopes.

According to the developers, SSX 3 will be a game that "just about anyone can pick up and play," so rather than having to sit through a boring tutorial, you'll start the game at the top of the third peak on a rather easy training course, then you'll come to a fork in the path. If you take the path labeled "course," you'll get started immediately on the game's first course, though if you take the path labeled "info," you'll be able to get to a training area that will explain the basics of the game to you.

SSX 3 will make a number of improvements on SSX Tricky's many features. Though the new game will continue to let you reach out and knock over rival snowboarders that come too close to you, it will also feature improved graphics and all-new weather effects for snow, fog, and rain. In addition, the slopes in the game will have continuously varying consistency, ranging from packed ice to loose powder, so if you happen to be a completist, you may want to revisit some courses once you've gotten a feel for how the snow is laid out on a certain course. Just like the previous games in the series, SSX 3 will let you pull off lots of different tricks, including flips, grabs, and rail grinds, and you'll be able to transition from one trick to another (provided you get enough air) to fill up your trick meter on the right-hand side of the screen. Like in the previous games in the series, you'll be able to use your trick meter to perform "ubertricks," but SSX 3 will actually feature three levels of different ubertricks that will require you to fill up your meter to different amounts. The new game will even feature new "monster tricks" which weren't on display--these will likely be revealed later.

In addition to all the new tricks and features, SSX 3 will have a brand-new racing mode called "slope style," which will consist of huge and challenging courses that will often have more than a dozen different ways to complete them. As the developers put it, "slope style will be all about finding the best line and not screwing up." Essentially, you'll start at the beginning of a course, but you'll quickly be confronted with a jump that will lead off to different paths of differing heights; if you can get enough air to reach the highest paths, you'll have more options for which path you take next. This fast-paced snowboarding sequel will be released later this year.

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