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EA Carves Up A World Of Mountains In SSX

When EA debuted its new SSX game at the Spike Video Game awards, fans began to fear that the series was straying from its roots – that it was taking on a more realistic, darker edge. In truth, developer EA Canada is taking everything that made the original SSX snowboarding titles great and shaping it into something that will be relevant in today’s market. SSX (now the game’s official title) features a global playing field of at least 70 mountains for players to race down, and will boast significant upgrades to the series’ trick and upgrade systems. We talked with creative director, Todd Batty, who melted away any fears we might have had regarding the franchise’s long-awaited return.

It seems like SSX has been on the shelf of awhile, and the last few titles didn’t perform as expected. Why bring the series back now?

SSX is a franchise that fans have been calling out for, for years and years now. I can’t think of a press announcement where EA has talked about announcing a new game that doesn’t have hundreds of posts under it going, “OMG, I hope it’s SSX.” We’ve always thought that the series had a fanbase out there that still had affinity with the franchise and we’ve always thought that it was a really strong, wholly owned IP by EA Sports. There have been attempts to revive SSX over the years; different teams have put together different pitches for what a new SSX could be, but it just never felt like any of these proposals knew how to reboot SSX and make it relevant to today’s market.

When you guys debuted the SSX trailer at the Spike Video Game Awards it seemed like you might be moving away from the bright colors and crazy arcade feel of the early titles in favor of a more realistic tone. Is this true?

No, absolutely not. Our core statement from day one has been, “survive it, race it, trick it.” And in that, we have designed three major types of gameplay. One being Deadly Descent, which is all about survival gameplay. It’s a new addition to the franchise. But I’ve always thought racing was the core of SSX, and we didn’t want to go away from that, so we’re going to have Speed Descent events, and of course we’ll have tricks in our Tricky Descent events. We wanted to make sure we hit the over-the-top arcadey gameplay in all of these different gameplay modes. We decided to lead with the new Deadly Descent gameplay in that trailer, but all of the classic SSX style will be there, too.

Can you go into a little more depth about how the Deadly Descent mode will work?

We thought SSX had two types of racing before: racing and trick events. We wanted to expand on the universe of SSX. We wanted to look at how we could bring the mountain alive in a way that the mountain was putting forth a challenge for the player. If you look at past SSXs you had huge chasms that you could jump, but we wanted to do other things like that. SSX 3 kind of had an avalanche, but we thought we could do that a thousand times better with the new systems. We have an amazing avalanche design. So we’ll have more things like avalanches and rockslides, and falling stalactites. In Deadly Descent the challenge will be just making it to the bottom alive.

It sounds like you guys are branching out and covering more mountain ranges than SSX titles of the past. How big is the game going to be?

If you look at past SSX titles, the tracks you ride down are far from realistic runs. We manipulate them and pile cities on top of them to make them over the top and arcadey, and we absolutely wanted to stick to that principle, but we wanted to give people the amount of content that mega hits like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto deliver. So in the early days we started sourcing topography data for the entire planet earth. Our main menu is a 3D model of the planet with 18 different mountain ranges highlighted across the globe: everything from Alaska, to Antarctica, to Siberia, The Calanques Mountains, the Andes, The Alps, Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji. We’re taking you all over the planet.

We’re a little challenged with how many levels we can put on the disc, honestly, but we’re thinking it will be somewhere in the vicinity of 70 mountains. By comparison, SSX 3 had one. The hub works kind of like Google Earth. You can spin the globe around and pick a mountain range you like then zoom in on that and pick a mountain you like from there, then you get to race down the crazy arcade courses that we’ve built on top of real-life mountains. You could stand on the summit of Mount Everest and look around 4,000 miles in any direction. You can see the view from the rooftop of the world. So imagine if a slopestyle team had a billion dollars to concoct a giant SSX style track experience on top of the largest mountain in the world. That’s what we’ve done in the game, but we’ve done it all over the world.

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  • This is looking good I'm curious to see how the online will turn out.

  • SSX is looking BIG!

    The racing segments will bring back the fans in a heart beat.

  • I'm looking forward to this game. Never played a SSX game before, so hopefully this will be good.
  • I love the SSX games, I'll probably end up getting this. :)

  • Never Played A SSX Game Before Will Have To Check It Out When Its Released Looks And Sounds Like A Fun Game.

  • They better bring Moby back!
  • I remember playing these (or at least games like them) way back in the days but I wasn't that good.  Good times.  Good... frustrating times.  


    Add him!

  • OMG dude this is gonna be sick, SSX with the fluidity of Skate 3! :) I've been waiting so long

  • Whoo! I'm breathing a huge sigh of relief right now. That trailer had me really nervous that they were going to go with the whole "edgy reboot" thing that games seem to be doing lately. I'm glad that they seem to have kept the SSX we know and love alive.

  • Sick!!! Can't wait!!

  • oh god i want it NOW

  • Well after reading this my fears that the game will be nothing like the other SSX games have been put to rest.
  • First snowboarding game I've ever considered. Extremely impressed with how massive this game is looking!

  • First snowboarding game I've ever considered. Extremely impressed with how massive this game is looking!

  • "The only one we’ve committed to at this point is Elise, who is sort of the poster child and cover girl of SSX." True as that may be, does anyone actually USE her in the game? No one I know ever did. No Zoe, no dice.
  • SSX Tricky is still one of my all time favorite games. Not only the gameplay, but the way the music and the characters and Rhazels comments all came together. That and the shortcuts and secrets always made the game feel much bigger than maybe it really was. I have A Song for Dot on my Zune and I keep trying to find some of the other tunes from that game.

    All of the tracks felt like they could be turned into a science. Plenty of options but not just a random bunch of crap you had to luck your way through. Not sure how to describe it better than that.

    I never did fall in love with SSX 3 like I did Tricky, but I do have to credit that game for my discovery of Brand New. I'll be picking up this one when it hits! (Unless of course it gets garbage reviews)

    Hopefully the new trick system works out well. Something about free form has me apprehensive. But if it works nicely and doesn't give me the hand cramps I vaguely remember from back in the day, good deal!
  • Yes! I've been waiting for more SSX news. Can't wait for the franchise's return.

  • They have to bring Mac and Moby back. Those two, along with Zoe, where some of the most unique characters in gaming back then. I'm happy they decided to keep the characters and leave out the "Create-A" feature. Great read, keep up the good work Ben-nie Ben-Ben.

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