EA Sports’ Communications Manager Duke Indrasigamany looked pleased but slightly annoyed the last time I saw him a few months back at EA’s Holiday event here in NYC. He’d spent the better part of the day playing through a demo build of SSX for small groups of game journalists and it seemed that only a few of them were coming away excited. I passed by the demo area when I entered, planning to loop back around and get some hands-on time with the game, but it took me a while to get there. After a few hours of playing SWTOR (excellent), Syndicate (REALLY surprising), Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3’s multiplayer modes (awesome), Funcom’s amazing The Secret World (great, but needs an offline mode), and the Dragon Age II expansion (featuring Felicia Day, everyone’s favorite gal gamer/multimedia star du jour), I finally made my way back to the SSX station and sat down with Sir Duke for a bit of fun in the high mountain air…
When I sat down and noted I was a fan of the series from the first games, Indrasigamany was happy to hear that and happier when I told him I “got” the direction the upcoming game was headed in. In terms of the more realistic look, it just makes sense for the dev team to get away from the gaudier color schemes and produce a game that’s made for current gen console tech.Sure, it would be quite cool to see the same old SSX you played back on the PS2, Xbox or Game Cube, but the newly designed courses manage to take real-world locales and mix in plenty of impossible game-only courses that look as well as play superbly.
The core SSX gameplay in the demo was still fast and fun trick-heavy bliss, but to some message board denizens and a few journalists, it seems that the first impressions of the new game back when Deadly Descents was in the title still linger over the project. I noted to Duke that this is a case where once players get their hands on a controller and see how the game feels like the SSX titles of old (with some tweaks here and there), the less stylized graphics become even less of an issue.This of course, made him nod and grin with agreement, as it’s what he’d spent all day demonstrating.
Many of the favorite characters are back (and looking like real people as opposed to big-footed caricatures in day-glo getups), and the trick-heavy gameplay was coming together quite nicely indeed. Indrasigamany made mention of the cool features in each of the areas in the demo build and how the game would have some important online multiplayer features he couldn’t quite give away in detail at that time. We now know that SSX’s online gameplay will be inspired by the Autolog system introduced the past few Need For Speed games, so players can expect to see their best times broken, new challenges issued and favorite courses tagged on assorted social network sites.
The thing is, people need to BUY this new SSX when it launches, not sit on their hands and wait for some jaded joruno to piss out a half-cooked review that ignores all the hard work that’s gone into making the game what it is. Granted, a big demo will help some of you out there on the fence see what’s what, as videos and screens can only go so far. Nevertheless, we haven’t seen a truly great non-stop fun snowboarding game for a good long while and to me, SSX fits the bill. I say give it a shot when it lands in stores in February – you won’t be disappointed unless you like living in the past.