SSX's lead characters are absent from the first 15 minutes of the game. You meet them soon enough - resolute, ancient, snow-capped behemoths plucked from the Rockies, Alps and Himalayas, drawn up through a NASA satellite and digitally deposited into the game - but before you can walk them, you must first learn how to fly above them.
Dropped from a helicopter at 30,000 feet, the opening minutes of SSX give everybody the chance to experience the game's true quest object: flow. Freefalling through the sky with no trees to slam against, no rails to miss, no snow tundra to upset the carve of your combo, you are free to chain trick after trick and watch the score counter climb to the stratosphere. 20 hours later and there's a chance you'll be able to link trick to tweaked trick with this kind of uninterrupted elegance, but for now you can wax lyrical with your thumbs without fear of stutter.
Then, when you've mastered the basic vocabulary, it's time to meet the opponent against whom you're going to pit it. A squeeze of the right bumper and you open a wing suit, gliding to the ground where miles of snow dip and rise. Rock protrusions provide rails, and ice sheets scream you into tunnels that burrow through the earth before spitting you out into twirling drops.