SSX hands-on: EA's boarder effortlessly glides into our most wanted games of 2012

The anticipation of getting to grips with a new SSX was palpable. We were so excited to get a look at the new online functions in Ridernet - SSX's version of NFS: Hot Pursuit's Autolog mode - and to see the new Alaska level that we even shamelessly push in front of a now irate French man. Merde, indeed, monsieur. Anyway, squeezing into the tiny room at EA's Gamescom booth was well worth the wrath of one man.

As Dave kindly points out in his previous SSX story, there will be ghosts in SSX to display which route your rival takes down a mountain. We're shown exactly how this works as the developer leading the run cruises to the finish line. Almost immediately on another TV in the room we see the ghost has been uploaded and a challenge has been issued to a friend via the in-game map based on Google Earth. The location, time or trick score is presented and you can choose whether to wipe the smirk from your friend's face or simply ignore it and set a different challenge for them. The great thing about the ghost system is that - for example - someone takes on your score/time and loses, you earn the money without even lifting a controller.

Above: Watch out. There could be ghosts in here

SSX also comes with the ability to compete in global online events. These will happen every few hours and you can be competing with thousands of competitors from around the world to see who's the top dog (husky?). There are three types of event that fall into SSX's mantra - race it, trick it, survive it - and you can choose any of these, pick the mountain range and drop-off point for each one and then throw down the gauntlet to your other SSX playing chums.

But enough of the fluff, it's time for our hands-on. Straightaway we're tricking out like we remember in SSX 3. The button taps or analogue sweeps arc our boarder over ramps like a beautiful mid-air ballerina. It's familiar but in a perfect way as the control scheme from the previous game was almost zen-balanced. We carve through the fresh powder like a hot knife through butter on our way to cheeky grinds along the pipeline leading down this Alaskan mountainside.

Above: This is what's known in snowboarding parlance as 'a trick'

EA are keen for players to try their 3D physics engine, which sounded like a load of old PR talk to us, but actually allows riders to position their body to slide up and around pretty much every surface in sight - including nearly vertical cliff faces. We squeeze the right trigger for a turbo boost and are suddenly speeding toward a ramp that is essentially a leap of faith as we can't see what's over the edge. Turns out it's more ramps and we land a massive amount of tricks that unlocks Tricky mode. The next time we're in the air we're twirling the board around our rider's head like a propeller in an uber trick style. And when we land the shockwave - a new addition to Tricky mode - ripples the landscape as though it's been struck by a meteor.

There's also a rewind function in SSX this time around, so if you mess up a landing or fall off the mountain you can simply rewind back to your last safe bit. There's a new close up camera view so it feels as intimate as the default view in Skate. It adds a level of realism to the high-speed action and really shows off the slick animations during tricks. In short, SSX is already uber and we can't wait for this mooted PS3/360 demo to hit more than ever.     

August 19, 2011




  • RedHarlow - August 21, 2011 3:03 a.m.

    Seems promising, but I don't think they can beat the cheese factor of the original with its 90's slang and ridiculous announcer
  • birdro - August 21, 2011 1:31 a.m.

    DAMMIT GR! This is the third time I've read this thanks to your shifting articles trickery! I've been kinda sad that no new gameplay has sprung up yet. Also, Brodie is in my reCaptcha. Oddly according with an SSX article.
  • avantguardian - August 20, 2011 1:03 a.m.

    @sunnyvaletrash: picking up the older games is a good idea, but i have to say i kind of envy you in the sense that, if this game is as amazing as it seems to be, it would be a pretty mind blowing introduction to the series. that said, ssx3 really is one of the best games of all time (and i loved on tour, but i'm a skier, so...).
  • CanadianBeaverHunter - August 19, 2011 9:19 p.m.

    Would like to see this come to the PC, but I'll buy it on Xbox 360 even if it doesn't. Been too long since I owned a good snowboarding game and this looks like it's gonna fill the void.
  • birdro - August 19, 2011 9:17 p.m.

    Hyped as I have been for like a month now. When you mention the rewind function, is it like an actual wind the clock back rewind, or like a safety respawn in the old SSX's? If the latter, I can agree with it, as it would actually be more penalizing than some resets that would take you forward In old SSX.
  • ThatGuyFromTV - August 19, 2011 9:01 p.m.

    Huh... judging from the way you worded things, it sounds like the game uses the control scheme from On Tour, with ubers performed with right-stick quarter-circles. I always preferred SSX3's scheme, but On Tour's scheme wasn't bad. And on the subject of rewinds, I don't worry about them. After all, you can't rewind online.
  • therawski - August 19, 2011 6:35 p.m.

    I love hearing good things about probably the only game I'm currently anticipating. @jmcgrotty I got a nes emulator for my ds that allows me to rewind any nes game with the L button, not having that function pisses me off because those games put a hurting on you and the controller. I wish that was in the original Alice which really ruins it's immersion by only restarting from your save point, essentially making boss fights a saving and loading mid fight strategy - I know these are "old" games but sometimes the frustration isn't fun, especially if you paid full price. But I know what you mean.
  • InvasivePlague - August 19, 2011 6:13 p.m.

    Stop whining about features you don't use.
  • MidianGTX - August 19, 2011 3:46 p.m.

    I quite enjoy rewind features in racing games, it allows players to take more risks and really push themselves to the limit without fear of ending the race prematurely, all in all it results in significance performance improvements. I'd still be terrible at Dirt 3 if I'd never had the courage to force myself round a corner at top speed. As for SSX though... it doesn't feel like it needs it. If you miss a route, it's not the end of the game. There's still a perfectly good chance to win and what's more, you might even find something new about the route you just rode down. I'm thinking the rewind will be used far more often 50ft from the finish line in repeated attempts to punch the rider in first position in the face.
  • Bamford38 - August 19, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    @ SunnyvaleTrash You can still pick up SSX3 on PS2 or XBOX for about £5 and play it on PS3 or 360. I played it not long ago and it still really holds up today, plus it will give you some experience with the trick system etc before the new game comes out.
  • jmcgrotty - August 19, 2011 12:37 p.m.

    (Not that it's a big deal, but after re-reading my comment about rewinds, I have to say that me being "pissed off to no end" was absolute hyperbole. Ultimately it's still just a game and shouldn't cause that strong a reaction.)
  • CitizenWolfie - August 19, 2011 12:36 p.m.

    Rewinds aren't necessarily a bad thing. Even SSX3 was sometimes frustrating if you missed the entry to a new route by the slightest margin. In free runs it's a good idea and so long as you can't use them in genuine races/slopestyles it should be ok. Besides, it's only there as an option - you don't HAVE to use it. SSX has been at the top of my most wanted ever since it turned out "that" trailer was largely hokum. Hopefully the online features wont be too intrusive as just having a whole mountain to myself in SSX3 is still one of my fondest gaming memories. Sod Rapture - Give me Peak 3 anyday.
  • SunnyvaleTrash - August 19, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    This game is my introduction to the franchise and I'm really excited to try it! I loved the Cool Boarders series on PS1 and this seems like a great re-entry point into the genre.
  • Marcunio88 - August 19, 2011 12:06 p.m.

    If you have a limited number of rewinds such as in Dirt or F1 2010 then I think it's a good thing. You have to decide whether to use your replay to correct a small mistake or wait and use it on a huge crash, ads a bit of strategy. Then when you run out the pressures really on. Also some of us don't have the time to replay a whole level over and over again.
  • Bamford38 - August 19, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    @jmcgrotty. I was thinking the exact same thing. Im hoping the rewind is just for when youre cruising round the mountain and not when youre in competition.
  • jmcgrotty - August 19, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    I know you aren't required to use it, but "rewinds" in games absolutely piss me off to no end. Too much coddling. It's like games that either autosave or give you a chance to save on a very, very regular basis. Games NEED to have a true punishment for death and failure.
  • Vordhosbn - August 19, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    Damn gremlins...
  • Vordhosbn - August 19, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    Really sounding good, never thought I'd be waiting impatiently for a Snowboard game demo to arrive with all the good games coming out on the horizon, but I can't wait to give it a try.
  • Vordhosbn - August 19, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    Really sounding good, never thought I'd be waiting impatiently for a Snowboard game demo to arrive with all the good games coming out on the horizon, but I can't wait to give it a try.

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