Going back to the PlayStation 2, SSX was always one of the standout games for its expansive landscapes and realistic feel - you could almost taste the snow when you crashed!
Over the years, the franchise has developed a good following but Electronic Arts is ready to take it to the next level with SSX.
They claim to have reinvented the classic snowboarding action game with new characters and adventures as riders battle the most treacherous and diverse mountain ranges on Earth.
Ordinarily, these bold claims might fall on deaf ears, but we had an opportunity to sample a development level on the game and this time, the hype might not be doing it justice...
The franchise has always been about racing, tricks, characters and fun, so SSX delivers that on a global scale. The game pits riders versus the mountain like never before as players explore the story of a team who seek to be the first to descend the face of the most treacherous ranges on the planet.
In the story, the team travels the world, from the peaks of the Himalayas to the ice ranges of Antarctica.
Unlike previous games in the series, these mountains aren't imagined. EA Canada, where the game is being developed, used NASA topographical satellite data to create the foundations for mountains. The team then used its "Mountain Man" software to skin the environments, creating realistic landscapes for players to descend. In fact, you can learn all about this technology in one of the three SSX videos we've uploaded at www.eurotuner.com and www.youtube.com/eurotuner - they give you a great idea of the unique terrain they've created and the challenges you'll face in the game.
Getting hold of the controller, the game maintains the wonderful fluid motion of the previous SSX games, but the challenges are more demanding. There also seem to be considerably more ways down the mountain than before. But the wild part about it is that every descent is modeled on real life. This could actually be the Himalayas you're traversing.
Rather than competing with AI players, we experienced the "Survive It" exploration side of the game. This allows you to take your time and look for the best routes, the most challenging jumps and the neat shortcuts, all while pulling the trademark tricks in mid-air. You need to survive white-outs, ice, freezing temps and more as you descend.
Other player options are "Race It" and "Trick It". We didn't sample these but, as the name suggests, you need to be the fastest or cleverest down the mountain. There's a refined trick system in the game to give you more options than ever before, plus the Tricky meter that gives you a speed bonus for more tricks.
As you progress through the game you'll discover the upgradable gear that allows you to select faster boards or perhaps a wing suit that will enable you to glide for longer.
Another nice feature is that in addition to trying to beat friends' times, you'll also get their ghost onscreen showing you their line as well as the time to beat. This will be just one aspect of the RiderNet feature, which is similar to the Autolog engine from Need For Speed. It will allow you to recommend runs to friends and interact online more easily.
Add in some new characters and while we've already admitted to being fans of the game, the demo experience has us genuinely excited for the 2012 launch of SSX. This is definitely the game to play on snow days and weekends.