Trick It mode highlights the fact that you can trick off everything. I was able to go on a couple different runs, hunting down different jumps and slopes each time down the mountain. It seems like each of the slopes in this game will have specified big jumps -- marked by arrows in the snow -- to steer gamers in certain directions, yet the game will still allow you the freedom to do as you please. It's like a nice way to provide guidance without hindering creativity and freedom on these open ranges.
In terms of controls, it was hard to get a feel for them during this brief amount of time. The analog controls are somewhat similar to the ones found in Skate, in that you gather and launch yourself, but they were not as in-depth (or final) at this point. Since I really was not comprehending yet how to do certain tricks or grabs, I ended up just spinning as much as possible to rack up points. The button controls seem to be a little further along, but I have sort of moved beyond wanting to use buttons in this type of game. It can't be a bad thing that the developers are providing both on the same control scheme, but it does mean for now I was sort of left in purgatory.
The mountain morphing is an interesting touch to this mode. However, it will only work in Trick It mode during single-player runs, and it's only activated once you have built up your modifier enough to make the game's color palette and so forth go crazy in classic SSX fashion. The gameplay functionality of mountain morphing is self-explanatory. If you hit tricks after your trick modifier has hit a certain point, the mountain morphing will physically change the slopes in front of you. It's completely over the top, but it serves to remind you that this is still going to be SSX rather than Skate with a snowboard -- assuming the wing suits, avalanches and absurd tricks didn't prove that enough to you.
In short, it's a nice first taste, but with the controls still being a work in progress, it's hard to get a gauge on how things will play out.
I want to start off talking about the Survive It mode because it was actually a really enthralling and cinematic look at a snowboarder trying to make it down a mountain before being crushed by an avalanche. The "element" at work here will change based on the challenge you select, so you won't always be running from an avalanche -- but the general premise seems to be escape no matter what is trying to chase you down.
In this particular challenge, the snowboarder had to make it as far down the mountain as possible before being swallowed by the avalanche he triggered in the first place. The thing about this mode that should keep it fresh is that it's always based on real-time interactions with the mountain. Your snowboarder activates the avalanches as he crashes down the mountain, which means no avalanche will be activated the same way, and the avalanche itself does not necessarily develop the same way because there are snow physics and so forth always interacting with the environment. Science!
The best thing about this mode is the tweaked camera view. Instead of the camera being a third-person, over-the-shoulder-style view, the camera pulls way out and watches you from a reverse angle from what seems like a helicopter in the distance. At a couple points, it detracted from the experience because you would lose sight of the snowboarder, but at the same time, it was exhilarating when he would reappear from a deep crater or appear back on screen just as you thought he had been overtaken by the oncoming avalanche. It's certainly something unique for the genre, and that's why it's worth following closely.
Race It seems straight forward. Every snowboarder has a different drop point at the beginning of a race, but the game is still going to try and funnel you down these mountains so you meet at certain choke points. You can still attack the mountains any way you wish, but clearly the developers don't want you all completely spread out during the entire race.
SSX was always a race game first, and the freedom given to gamers on these mountains should only help to increase that appeal. Since there is no one set way to go down any mountain, it seems like there will never be that perfect way to go down a mountain and record the best time.
It's still really early, but it's obvious a lot of development time and love is going into this project. The developers are clearly trying to re-establish SSX as its own brand that stands out in the genre like it once did years ago. I want to see how the controls develop, and get hands-on time with the other two modes, but the premise and structure seems sound -- now it's all about the execution.