At the Electronic Arts Season Opener event in San Francisco, SSX creative director Todd Batty talked about the game's past and how it's both present in the new game (which is no longer subtitled Deadly Descents, by the way) and yet being greatly expanded upon for the January 2012 title.

It's been six years since SSX on Tour, and a lot has happened since then in both EA Canada's mind as well as with video games at large. Batty told the crowd that one of the main differences in terms of SSX is that whereas the original SSX had 8 levels and On Tour had 13 tracks, this new SSX will have 200 to 300 runs over 18 major mountain ranges across the globe from the Andes to Everest.

Batty and the team at EA Canada have come up with this impressive number using NASA satellite footage of Earth and a tool the developers at EA Canada call Mountain Man. This tool allowed them to created some spectacular runs (some of which will run into each other and provide different vantage points from which to approach cool parts of the same mountain) that capture the best essence of terrifying, challenging mountain ranges all around the world.

Apart from the sheer number of runs available, the game is also breaking from the past with a new physics model that allows gamers to trick off of all parts of the terrain. This means that there isn't the need for artificial barriers to keep you hemmed in to the trickable portions of the track like in previous games. It also means that half-pipe formations no longer have to be restricted to isolated events (although there still are dedicated half-pipe courses), but can be seamlessly entered and exited as you're tricking down the slopes. Terrain ridges can also act as ramps to launch you into new parts of the level. This new physics model tears down the artificial barriers of previous titles and truly opens up the mountains for you to experience.

As much as SSX presents a new world to fans, Batty told us that basic racing "is still going to be the foundation that I believe this game is based upon." Batty assures SSX fans that the series' core tennets of exaggerated speeds and tricks is still very much at the core of the franchise. It's not a sim. Fans can be comforted by the fact that original characters like Elise will return alongside new racers, and the SSX community will also get to vote for their favorite characters from past titles for inclusion in the game.