So the SSX 2012 demo dropped today. It's pretty cool, I guess. You can see me running through the demo for my first time in the video above (or if that doesn't work for some reason, click here), and at the end I play a little bit of SSX3 (and fail pretty bad at it - I was pretty rusty, and the controls for SSX 2012 were throwing me off a bit on top of that).
Tricks are way easier to pull off than in previous SSX games - you'll be doing wild spins and flips in no time. It's way more forgiving with what it'll let you successfully land, but it's definitely not "easy" - if you genuinely goof up, the game will fault you for it in a big way. SSX3's "tap the button to get up faster" system isn't here, so you could end up tumbling down a pretty significant chunk of the mountain before your rider gets up and back on his board.
The most immediate change is the trick system - by default, it controls similar to Skate's "trick stick" system. Traditional SSX controls usually have you jump with the A button, boost with the X button, and use the d-pad for flips and spins. Spins and flips had to be pre-loaded, too, almost like an ATV racing game. The new SSX has the same "flick the stick" concept for everything from jumps to flips and grabs, though it lets you use the face buttons, too. R trigger is for boost, and L trigger is for snapping to grindable ridges. The tutorial at the start begins by mentioning there's a "classic controls" option for SSX veterans. too.
Achieving "Tricky" status is a lot easier, too, but by that same vein, you LOSE it a lot faster, too. In the single race event in the demo, you can achieve and lose "Tricky" status a dozen times if you can't keep a combo going. It's all about more rewards and more risks.
Leaderboard integration is cool. Without even having to tell it, SSX downloaded and had me face off against time trial ghosts from guys on my friends list. I really appreciate stuff like that, and more games need to adopt this kind of system. I can imagine something like Trackmania really benefiting from this concept - but by that same token, I can see this being the kind of feature that only really thrives on the consoles. I have Need For Speed Hot Pursuit for the PC, and my Autolog is a ghost town because the game has its own separate friends list from Steam or Games For Windows Live. For leaderboard systems like SSX's to thrive, there needs to be more cross-pollination between friends lists, because the bigger pool you can pull from, the better.
The only major issue I have with the SSX demo is rider controls. Tricking's easy as pie, but steering your dude when he's carving up the snow is squirrelly and sluggish. You might see in the video that I'm constantly zig-zagging back and forth a lot, and that's because it was difficult for me to get a bead on how tight I needed to turn to get my guy to react. That might not be an issue once I get used to it, but for now it feels laggy and I don't like it.
The second major issue, of course, is the fact that for a demo already so deeply hooked in to leaderboard stuff, they make you watch the stupid trailer and do the five minute long tutorial every single time you boot up the game. I realize this is a demo and all, but it is basically the world's longest and worst "BUY THE FULL GAME!" nag screen. That's not helping your product, EA. If you're going to give me reasons to play your demo more than once, don't make it such a frustrating, tedious endeavor to get back in to it.