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EA Canada, EA Sports, PS3, SSX, XBOX 360, [blog], [impressions]

[impressions]: SSX Demo

FINALLY! After over a year of hearing about everyone else playing it and watching those damn ‘Own the Mountain’ trailers, I get my chance to experience the latest entry in the SSX franchise. We’ve been in the current generation of consoles since 2005, when the Xbox 360 launched, and the ‘King of the Mountain’ has been missing for quite some time, leaving us with only Amped 3 and Shaun White Snowboarding (meh…).

After signing a waiver (because of how badass this is about to get!) the following introduction video already has me drooling. The game starts off by throwing you out of a helicopter, just for kicks. The segment has you free falling from the sky as a tutrial mode takes over allowing you time to get familiar with the game’s controls. Tricks are mapped both the face buttons and right analog stick — veterans should feel right at home. I really like this take on the tutuorial mode. The view from the sky looking down as you plummet towards the ground is breathtaking. The scale of the area surrounding is overwhelming. The trick system has been fleshed out a bit more. Aside from standard grabs and tweaks, you can now ‘customize’ your tricks by starting out the grab and then shifting the control, allowing you to be selective about pulling off tricks using different hands or just doing a different trick altogether. It’s reminiscent of On Tour’s way of pulling off more than 4 uber tricks with only so many buttons.

Continuing on through the tutorial’s 22 step course explains the rest of the game’s mechanics, reintroducing the likes of the Boost / Tricky meter, and a brief moment with the wingsuit (!) before allowing you to touch down on your first bit of fresh powder.

Damn, does it feel good to be back…

Being an avid video game and snowboarding enthusiast, of ALL the snowboarding games I’ve played (which I’ve played them all), SSX being the most over-the-top, the game also holds some of the most convincing and realistic board handling I’ve come accross when it comes to actually riding the thing. I snake my way down the first part of the mountain because I can. I’m considering having a fan blow in my face just to sell the whole package that much more. I could go on for days about how beautiful this game is right now. I feel like I’m on a mountain…

More control tweaks. Jumping can now be pulled off by flicking the right stick forward, or holding it down to ‘preload’. I’m curious if the success of Skate’s flick stick controls made an impact on this. Tricks can now be pulled off while grinding without a full Tricky meter. I like it. You can also grind tree limbs and snow ‘edges’ by holding the left trigger as you ride over it, allowing you to change your play style on the fly. A rewind feature has been added, too. To keep players from spamming the hell out of it, a point penalty is added and the time clock (for races) is not adjusted. I just filled my Tricky meter… It’s time.

The first thing you’ll notice, unless I’m just not coming across it, is that time is no longer slowed down when performing Uber tricks. Not that this is a negative factor, but it’s definitely no longer given that grace it once had. Uber tricks can also be cancelled out in mid trick by simply letting go of the analogs, returning your boarder to a ‘prone’ position. Maybe this is the reason for it. Slowing down time for EVERY Uber, only to stop in mid animation may have been a bit much. Nevertheless, the shit is insane. The tricks are just as over-the-top as ever. Mid-air acrobatics and board-spinning are handled with deadly precision and finesse. Successfully landing a bigger Uber trick is literally ground shaking, sending a shock wave across the terrain around you. A few more stunts and my ride comes to an end as I reach the bottom of my descent.

I love it.

I’ve been waiting years, and in 10 minutes, it was all reconciled. Not that I was expecting anything less, but it feels good to see my beloved snowboarding series is back to reclaim its throne. Once finished with the level, the demo brings you to the main navigation menu. The ‘explore’ option lets you scope out SSX‘s 9 different peaks and the ability to try out the same peak you just played in ‘trick’ mode, as well as another peak in ‘race’ mode, to try and earn medals. Also included in the demo are a few videos showing off some of the game’s online features as well as a glimpse of ‘RiderNet’, home of SSX‘s online community. Here you’ll be able to show off your different feats and accomplishments your buddies and other strangers alike.

That’s really all there is to it for the demo, but that certainly won’t stop me from dropping down this mountain 8 more times! I can’t wait until February 28 when SSX finally hits store shelves. Look for our full review in coming weeks.

SSX is a snowboarding/arcade/racing game for Xbox 360 and PS3. Developed by EA Canada and published by EA Sports, SSX releases on Tuesday, February 28, 2012.


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