That this new SSX is the most realistic-looking installment in the franchise goes without saying. It has left behind the human pinball machines and snowbound metropolises in favor of actual mountains. I can't attest to the accuracy of the recreations, as I've never hurled myself off the peak of Mount Everest. However, there's a certain rawness that has certainly been lacking in the earlier, more cartoony installments. Some visual assists keep things from being too realistic. However, they warn you of potential hazards and encourage you to prepare for the next death-defying leap. Most courses strike a nice balance between absurdity and believability, but the ones that don't strike that balance intentionally go all out in one way or the other. Up close, things don't look spectacular; this isn't a problem, because you'll rarely have time to scrutinize anything. The animation work is impressive and often terrifying; boarders contort, twist, and roll their bodies in impossible ways and at impossible speeds - several hundreds of feet up. When you land one of the game's ridiculous-looking Super Ubers, you send a neat-looking shockwave down the mountain. The sense of speed is on par with Burnout, which is no small feat. All of that, and the framerate is easily able to keep up.
SSX has an incredible soundtrack that spans a handful of appropriate genres. There's techno, rock, dubstep, hip hop, and straight up pop music. From The Naked and Famous' "Young Blood" to Foster the People's "Houdini," all of the music fits the outlandish action quite well. Boarders holler in excitement (and when the time is right, fear and/or agony), and your helicopter pilot doubles as an accurate and faithful spotter. Burnout's DJ Atomika is also along for the ride for some narration work, but EA wisely limited his involvement. Run DMC's "It's Tricky" doesn't make an appearance, but Super Tricky mode features a couple of dudes going on about how tricky you're being.