Previews

SSX: Burnout with snow?

Race it, trick it, survive it, love it...

One minute we're on the rim of Mt Kilimanjaro's volcanic cone Kibo, ready to dive down into a tangle of ice tunnels which spit us out into a drop so terrifying the only way to survive is by grabbing hold of a helicopter's landing gear.

The next we're flipping and spinning around the lower levels of Makalu, grinding sections of the Great Wall of China. After that we're being chased down the mountain by an avalanche in a toward-the-camera sprint. There's barely time to catch our breath and take it all in - no wonder Creative Director Todd Batty refers to this as "Burnout on snow".

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SSX utilizes both button controls for long-time fans (with a new Tony Hawkstyle grind input on l - something we're told had to be included given that there are now far too many grindable surfaces to get away with auto-grinding) and right stick inputs, with each movement on the stick being used to shuffle your rider's hands about.

So say you flick right stick to the ten o'clock position - that'll see your chosen boarder grab the upper-left lip of their board with their left hand. Quickly repeating the same motion makes them reach over and do so with their right too. While spins and flips are handled with the left stick flicks and twists of the right stick control the hands, initiate tweaks and even lead to feet-out-of-the-binding über-moves.

Not only is it a clever system but an incredibly intuitive one. We felt fully comfortable with the shift in control after all of two minutes.

FLOW RIDER
New to the series is the concept of 'Flow'. In Batty's words, Flow "basically maps your path and how well you're advancing down the mountain, so if you wipe out or you're being a jackass and try to go back up you have no flow." It's directly tied into the combo system: no Flow equals no combo.

Maintain your Flow and you'll earn boost, which can then either be spent for speed or saved up to enter a highscoring Tricky state of mind. Tricky is where the big moves come out to play, and in another new system you'll create shockwaves that ripple through the world every time you land a major move.

These waves deform the environment around you: lowering and raising ramps directly ahead, flattening trees to open up new paths and even, if you're good enough, holding off entire avalanches to help you escape deadly snowfalls without wiping out.

Despite the dozens of mountains on offer, Batty promises that, "if you can see it, you can ride it, you can trick it and you can jump off it too." A result of that philosophy is that courses are currently averaging out at four minutes a pop, rather than the giant 40-minute trek in SSX 3.

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The team is looking at larger environments though, so you never know what goodies they might have in store for us in January. Given the impressive wealth of content on show even at this early stage, we're betting lots...

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