PAX Hands-on: SSX


Ready to fly

The game is still months away from release, but my stomach is already queasy from the wild ride the new SSX has taken me on. After a rocky first impression back when the game was subtitled Deadly Descents, SSX has recovered by rediscovering its roots. As I turned the corner and noticed the SSX kiosk at PAX, a lot of my initial fears vanished as the game did not look like an “extreme experience brought to you buy a highly caffeinated soda.” However, I was still weary about having my hopes for this franchise dashed as I took control of the demo.

SSX is gorgeous. I fought it for a while because the nostalgic fan in me wants a bit of the flourescent and neon stylings of the first game, but as I began to play I was reminded that SSX 3 was the best game to build from in the series. I suddenly felt right at home on my board and began to take in the rest of the experience.

Take a trip

SSX Trick

Whatever you do, stick the landing.

The mountain I was on was fairly standard with no big set pieces or arcadey moments, but the sense of speed throughout my run and exhilaration when I took to the air definitely got me excited for the potential of this SSX experience. There were hints of classic SSX design with subtle glowing arrows under the snow on ramps that definitely aided in making this game feel like an evolution tied to the previous titles. I did not get much sense of how I was performing, but pulling of tricks and soaring through the air was easy enough and felt very natural for someone who hasn’t played a snowboard game in over 6 years. The important thing was that I felt like I was pulling off some crazy maneuvers and always on the verge of falling on my face (without actually failing).

Granted after only one run down the mountainside, I only got a small taste of what SSX will be, but the gameplay and presentation are rock solid. How this will translate to a full game with single player campaign and multiplayer experiences remains to be seen. My doubts do not lie in SSX’s design so much as the lackluster appeal of extreme sports games these days. SSX needs to stand out both for fans of the genre and fans that have tired of the same boarding experience. Right now, I’m not seeing that difference maker as the game needs a little personality and a draw that will make the game a breakout hit. There’s still a few months left before its release, and I can say SSX makes a strong impression once you give it a shot. I’ll definitely be returning to the mountain whether or not I have company on the slopes.

SSX is due out from EA Canada in January 2012 for Xbox 360 and PS3.


Giant Bomb (images)

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