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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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  • Buckets... buckets of ***. Tricky was one of my absolute favorite games of ALL TIME. Im so glad they are keeping it classic but adding all this new *** tech into it. It basically sounds like the Skate of snowboarding, on steroids.

  • The last SSX I played was SSX 3 and that was the best one in my opinion. I am really hoping this works out. PS...bring back Mac or it isn't SSX...
  • I am so very excited!  I loved SSX 3 and have been waiting for the next true sequel.  I was a bit skeptical when they first announced it (it sounded like they were moving away from what made the series unique), but this interview has laid my fears to rest.  Bring it on!

  • UUuuuuuuugggggghhhh. The game is called SSX!?! Fu*k you game makers! First Sonic the Hedgehog, then Mortal Kombat, now this!?! CUT THAT SH*T OUT! THOSE GAMES EXIST ALREADY, AND THEY'RE ALL CLASSICS. WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO ERASE THEM. MAKE A NEW NAME, PUT A NUMBER ON THE END, DO SOMETHING LESS IDIOTIC.
  • I think that board in the pics is like a Easter Egg or something. I could've sworn I seen that board on the first SSX. It was Mac's I think...

  • Thank god, I was afraid we'd lost the awesome tricks and craziness that made the original SSX titles great. This has excited me again, and the concept art looks great! Looking forward to this now.

  • I have always enjoyed the SSX games and now that I have taken up snowboarding this game will be a must for me.

  • "I really look at Tricky and SSX 3 as the pinnacle of the series"

    Congratulations Tod Batty, you have just won over the entire ssx fanbase with that statement. Also I dont know about you guys, but i am getting kinda getting tired of these 'rebooted names'. Why not just call this game SSX 5?

    Also, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if this game used Autolog. I hope it does, that would be pretty awesome. Also some split-screen would be very much appreciated, not enough games have that these days.
  • Wingsuit? Oh hell yea.

  • The screens sure are looking nice... not sure why the general opinion of the game seems to be negative, I'll take this over hyper-stylized any/everyday of the week.

  • As long as they don't have some stupid controller thing like the last Tony Hawk game did, then I'll probably get it. I love SSX.

  • God I LOVED SSX Tricky
  • I loved SSX Tricky. Thats about all i played on my Xbox before i got the 360. SSX rules.

  • Looking forward to a demo. SSX Blur for the Wii was the last game I played, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. even with the new more realistic graphics, I hope they keep the same over the top zaniness of the previous games.

  • I'm very happy to hear that they're going back to the arcade style that made these games great.  SSX 3 was one of my favorite games on my PS2, and I hope they can bring back the magic that it had.  Also, I want Psymon.  He was my favorite character from the 3rd game.  

  • i like the new direction they took, im interested. it looks it has more grit to it.

  • i like the new direction they took, im interested. it looks it has more grit to it.

  • Definitely getting this as soon as pre-order is available

  • FINALLY!  Screw you shaun white

  • world's first ssx video game social network at ssx.im