|System: Xbox 360, PS3|
|Dev: EA Canada|
|Pub: EA Sports|
|Release: Q4 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 720p – 1080i|
by Lindsey Weedston
The SSX (Snowboard Supercross) series began with a PlayStation 2 launch title that earned the love of millions of fans while earning five awards from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. It was the first to be published under EA Sports BIG, a brand that likes to make extreme sports even more extreme by allowing players to break many of the laws of physics. All of the SSX games have featured the kinds of jumps and tricks that would kill an actual snowboarder, but look really cool on screen. Players have certainly enjoyed pulling off these impossible maneuvers for the past ten years in the original SSX and its five sequels.
SSX: Deadly Descents will be the first of the series to be released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, representing a significant change in tone for the franchise. The new game appears to be more serious than the others, and the trailer shown during the 2010 Video Game Awards looked darker. In the trailer, a pair of helicopters closes in on the peak of a mountain in the Himalayas while the snow dances about. A man in snow gear throws the door open and mentions that they're not alone. Then, in the style of a military FPS, the pilot tells the man to "go go go," and he leaps from the helicopter with a snowboard strapped to his feet. He tumbles through the air, somehow lands snowboard-down, pulls some sweet moves, declares that he's not going to make it, and after going off one final jump actually whips out a pair of wings, Batman style. I don't know if Deadly Descents is trying to leech off of the popularity of Black Ops and the anticipation of Batman: Arkham City, but if you're going to leech off of anything, those are two fine choices. Either way, the Deadly Descents trailer certainly makes it look like the series will be cranking up the intensity a notch.
The description of the game's plot supports the idea that Deadly Descents will be a more serious, pulse-quickening experience. The game stars a team of snowboarders who apparently hate being alive, and so decide to be the first people to snowboard down the most dangerous mountain ranges on Earth. They will face climates so extreme that just standing still in those areas would be dangerous. The official SSX website describes a bit of what players can expect to deal with: "From the peaks of the Himalayas, where the air is so thin that riders have to descend through the death zone at breakneck speeds to keep from blacking out, to the solid ice ranges of Antarctica, where a sunlit line is the only survival option when temperatures drop 50 degrees centigrade in the shade." I don't know how EA expects to top that level of intensity in future installments, but I guess they'll climb that mountain when they come to it.
Deadly Descents is looking to be a reinvention of the series, but it has also been said that it will take the game back to its roots. It will maintain its dedication to high-speed boarding with impossible and undeniably cool tricks, as well as its tradition of containing characters who want nothing more than to be awesome dudes. It will once again be developed by EA Canada, although much of this game's development will be headed by members of the team that created EA's Skate and Skate 2, and the controls will reflect this.
A number of new features have been at least proposed for Deadly Descents, including helicopter drops, wingsuits or squirrel suits for flying, skyboarding, para-skiing, an avalanche or two, and ice climbing. We now know that the first two items on that list should be in the game. EA has also promised a "rich online component," but we don't yet know how rich it will be.
Assuming that fans of the SSX franchise aren't looking for realism in their snowboarding games, it looks at though EA is giving the people what they want with Deadly Descents. If the game is even close to being as intense as the trailer, the fans will most likely be pleased. A game where you can tear down mountains while trying not to freeze/suffocate/get buried alive (and occasionally fly) sounds like it couldn't help but be entertaining. There is no word as to when the game will be released, but don't sweat about it, because you've got to be cool. Like EA says, "In SSX: Deadly Descents the first goal is to survive. The second, in true SSX fashion, is to look good doing it."
CCC Freelance Writer