It’s been nearly six years since the previous installment, and now there is just one week to go. So to pass the time, the developers over at EA Sports Canada have released a free to download demo of their game.
Primarily to give you an idea of what to expect, but as in most cases, to demonstrate how good the game is that you have to buy it. For me, it’s been completely mind blowing.
SSX is a snowboarding game with attitude, throwing reality and physics far out of the window for a fast, downhill, arcade racer with a bucket load of insane tricks to come along for the ride. It’s a reboot of a well loved series of course, brought to the newest generation of consoles with a graphical overhaul, physics engine revamp and a fresh selection of music that are EA are famous for selecting.
I hadn’t played an SSX game before this, but with the huge surge in advertising toward the back end of 2011, it was becoming hard to ignore. Soon I too was expecting the demo any day, and when it did arrive – on Tuesday morning – I was downloading it straight away. And I’ve been playing nothing else since.
The reason? It’s fun. That’s it. No bells and whistles, nothing else, it manages to be fun and simple to pick up. Oh, and it’s pretty much ridiculous.
I’ve been told that’s the basis of the game, and that also seems to be why it’s so fun. You feel exceptional at the game, after minutes, when you’re aren’t doing much besides jamming sticks into different directions and hoping for the best. Easy to pick up, hard to master.
The game prides itself on the ‘Race it, trick it, survive it’ motto, underpinning the three types of mode you can compete in. Race and trick events don’t need much explaining, but survival is new for the series. Here, each range has an aptly named Deadly Descent to tackle, with it’s own particular danger.
In the regular modes, you can quickly rack up some silly scores, stringing tricks together quickly or boosting to the next jump where you’ll often meet helicopters in mid-air to trick off of. Again, all mind boggling stuff. Such tricks are created from what seems to be inspiration taken in the way that FIFA and Skate use the sticks to decide which arm/foot should go where, and when. Although, the realism that Skate tries to attain is definitely not featured here.
Other features announced for the game that unfortunately can’t be played around with in the demo include wingsuits to deploy, allowing further flight across chasms that would remain uncrossable without, headlamps for night descents, pick axes for greater maneuverability on ice and body armour to protect against damage from the environment, among many others.
The only exception to the loss of reality is that NASA imaging was used for the drops used in-game, to allow a greater sense of real world grounding in the types of environments available for the 153 different starting drops.
In the demo however, they’ve included online gameplay, which showcases the social recommendation engine that they’ve called RiderNet. The approach they’ve taken to online play is slightly different, resulting in setting high scores against your friends, being notified as and when your friends improve on that and allowing you to drop right in and reclaim the title once more. It’s very powerful, and all the more competitive when it’s people you know that you play against.
I’ll probably get this game very soon after it comes out on March 2nd in the EU. It’s very much one of the most fun games I’ve ever played, but don’t mistake that for it being easy. There’s a huge world to explore, with a vast array of collectibles, character customisation and user generated rewards. Don’t believe me? Get a hold of the free demo right now, and see for yourself.
Play the demo now by adding it to your Xbox download queue here.
It’s also available for the Playstation 3 from the PSN Store.