Amped 3 REVIEW

Amped 3 Review (Xbox 360)

With the latest installment in the Amped series, Indie Built and 2K Games decided they wanted to add a little arcade flavor to a game that was widely considered the closest thing to a snowboarding simulation. Amped 3 hits the slopes again, this time as a launch title for the Xbox 360, with hopes of nabbing some fans of the popular SSX series. Does Amped 3 totally abandon its realistic roots to appeal to the masses, or does it perfectly blend the two styles to make the ultimate snowboarding game? Let's find out.

One of the few areas Amped 3 fails to impress me is in the graphical department. By no means is it ugly to look at, however, when I think of snow covered mountains, I was expecting some jaw-dropping visuals. The scenic background is impressive, offering an amazing draw distance that sometimes allows you to see the bottom of the mountain. However, any visual pleasure you may receive from playing Amped 3 is plagued by the constant pop-ups that fill the screen as you're racing down the mountain. You'll notice some instances of clipping, especially at the end of your runs. There were occasions that my character would continue boarding over concrete, and through buildings, all while a message is being displayed declaring my run over. A noticeable lack of animations, especially when landing or taking a tumble, make the character models seem a bit stiff. My boarder would always display the same landing animation, and he had the tendency to exaggerate his falls, flopping down the mountain like a fish out of water. As for the menu interface - it's easy to navigate, but the artwork decorating the interface and loading screens seems out of place. Indie Built and 2K Games are making too much of an effort to be hip and spiritual at the same time, and after hours of playing Amped 3, you can't help but be annoyed at the overall presentation.

Indie Built and 2K Games were able to implement Dolby 5.1 Surround into Amped 3. However, aside from an amazing soundtrack, the in-game audio could use a little more attention. The sounds of my character cutting through the snow or grinding a rail offer nothing for my imagination. As for the soundtrack, I was surprised to find myself actually enjoying the collection of indie bands blasting through my speakers. But if you happen to get tired of the indie rock, Amped 3 - like all Xbox 360 titles - supports Custom Soundtracks as well.

The first time you fire up Amped 3 for the Xbox 360, you'll find yourself decked out in a pink bunny suit while being introduced to Amped 3's Story Mode, as well as the rest of your crew. Don't be alarmed; the suit is only temporary. You'll complete a brief intro run down the mountain, and then you'll have the oppurtunity to customize your boarder to your liking. The customization options are rather extensive, including several options for body type, face, tattoos, and name-brand snow gear. The ability to go back and change anything you want about your boarder, except for their gender, is a nice touch. Once you've finished editing your boarder, the Story Mode officially begins.

You find yourself starting off at Northstar mountain, where it's Easter weekend, and the resort is about to close for the season. You and your crew, which consists of four oddly unique characters, are saving up to pay for a trip to Chile where you can board all year long. To do this, you'll need to earn "coin" by completing a series of different challenges. These competitions cover everything you could imagine yourself doing at your local ski resort. Once you've completed all of the challenges on that specific mountain, another one will open up. There are 7 total resorts to master, and each mountain comes with a easy-to-navigate Trail Map. The map will display several slopes and their challenges. Some are unlocked from the start, while others become unlocked as you progress through the map. While the game may seem linear, it actually isn't. You're able to select the unlocked challenges in any order you wish. Once you've advanced to the next resort, you're still able to travel back to the previous one.

There are several ways to develop your character during Story Mode. Respect is earned every time you successfully complete a challenge. However, you'll need to earn a specific amount of respect during your challenges to unlock the next resort. You can also earn skill upgrades and an arsenal of new tricks by completing challenges. The potential upgrade, or trick, will be described in the challenge info. Finally, you'll need to earn some "coin" if you plan to get your hands on new gear. Defeating a challenge on the silver or gold level, and finishing media challenges at any level, will earn you the money to go shopping with. You can also purchase some terrain park objects, which are used in Park Builder mode.

The Park Builder feature is easily the most enjoyable mode available in Amped 3. There are two modes within this feature. The first is Build, which lets you select and place objects on the course. The second, Edit, allows you to fine-tune a park. The objects available to place on your creation are limited at first, but as you beat certain challenges within the game, you'll earn "coin" to spend on newer objects. You'll start out the Park Builder mode with a Student Builder license, which puts a restriction on the objects you can place on the slope. As you garner more experience, you'll eventually obtain a Park Architect license, which comes with no restrictions on editing.

The control scheme for Amped 3 is rather simplistic, and doesn't take that long at all to master. As expected, the left thumbstick steers your boarder. With a quick up and down motion of the left thumbstick, your boarder will execute the "butter" move, which is used to chain combos together. The A button acts as the crouch/ollie button. The key to achieving maximum air is to time your ollie just as you reach the top of a ramp. It also helps to make sure you approach the ramp while in the speed tuck, which requires both the Right and Left triggers to be held in. Once in the air, pressing the left thumbstick in any direction will perform a variety of spins, flips, and turns. You can also execute specific grabs by pressing the trick buttons, which are B, X, and Y. To make things even easier, to execute a grind, just direct your boarder into the vicinity of the rail that you wish to grind. There are no buttons that need to be pressed, your boarder just latches himself on to the rail automatically. While the easy controls take away from the realism, it helps attract a larger audience.

With no true multiplayer mode, online or offline, it's hard to suggest Amped 3 as anything more than a rental. The scores you achieve during challenges are posted on Xbox Live Leaderboards, so you can see how you stack up against the rest of the world. However, considering the fact that Amped 2 was a major hit on Xbox Live for the original Xbox, I was quite disappointed when I popped the disc in for the first time. While the robust single player mode is entertaining, the game fails miserably in the longevity department.

Amped 3 Score
out of 10