Hey, remember when SSX
was SSX: Deadly Descents? Publisher EA eventually dropped that subtitle in a
signal to fans that this newest entry was a true return to the pure and classic
snowboarding gameplay they loved during the last console generation, not just
an edgy and gritty spin-off. We followed suit, focusing on the nuances of the
controls, physics and tracks in our
But the deadly descents aren’t a gimmick. They are a substantial, inventive and,
from what we’ve seen so far, exhilarating new way to play SSX. At a press event
last week, the game’s developers detailed the full list of deadly descents for
us. Nine different dangers. Nine different survival techniques. Nine twists on
the series formula. Here’s what to expect, and how to prepare:
Avalanche – This was the first danger revealed, cinematically brought to
life by the SSX reveal trailer last year. You’re not just snowboarding down a
mountain, you’re escaping down a mountain as quickly as possible to avoid the monstrous
coffin of suffocating snow right behind you. Speed is key, but so is avoiding
points on the track that will trigger a larger avalanche. Plus, the entire race
occurs from a reverse point of view so that the avalanche is visible while the
course is unknowable.
Whiteout – You know the one about
the polar bear in a blizzard? Same idea here. Furious driving snow obscures the
slope, making extremely poor visibility – with curves and obstacles popping
into view at the last moment – your biggest concern.
Oxygen – SSX’s developers asked real snowboarders what dangers they face
on real mountains, and this deadly descent was one of the inspired results. You’re
so high up a peak that the atmosphere is too thin and breathing is too
difficult, making as short a trip down the mountain as possible necessary for
your lungs, brain and survival.
Ice – Every racing game needs an extra
slippery track that makes precision control and direction nearly impossible. SSX
is no exception. Expect to fly through the course at a thrilling yet
Darkness – The SSX series is known
for bright, expansive, majestic environments that you can navigate in dozens of
different ways. Inside the mountains, however, are networks of shadowy,
intricate tunnels that will require not only better reflexes, but better equipment
(i.e., a gloom-piercing headlamp) to navigate.
Sunlight – The sun isn’t the enemy here; it’s the savior. This deadly
descent requires players to stay near patches of warmth, as the areas untouched
by the sun are too chilling to survive for long periods of time. The visuals
here, as in Darkness, should be striking.
Rocks – Lots of rocks. Avoid hitting them. Pretty simple.
Trees – The idea here is similar to Rocks, but since trees are tall and
narrow as opposed to round and squat, the course will have more of a slalom
feel, with the player sliding back and forth drastically and desperately to
avoid crashing into the criss-cross of fallen trunks.
Gravity – This deadly descent may be the most fun, but also possibly the
most difficult to master. Massive gaps and crevasses in the terrain must be
traversed safely, and the only method for doing so is… a wingsuit! That’s
right, in the newest SSX, you can fly. At least until you run out of wind or
lift, at which point you’d better have snow, and not stomach-dropping emptiness,
to land on.
There you go. The nine
deadly descents of what was once called SSX: Deadly Descent. Note that once you’ve
survived a particular descent, that danger will be unlocked for competitive
races, time trials and trick runs, some of which will shift the strategy you
need to tackle them. In a race or time trial, for example, the wingsuit’s glide
could slow you down and should be minimized. In a trick run, on the other hand,
you’ll want to catch as much air – to perform as many stunts – as possible.
Sep 30, 2011