Reviews// Amped 3 (Xbox 360)

Over the mountains

Posted 2 Dec 2005 13:45 by
This is what happened last time I went snowboarding. This tells you that either I am really crap at snowboarding, or that I ride so hard there is no margin for error. But think about it, if I'm crap, how was I going fast enough to do that.

While I was sofa-ridden recovering from that little injury, I played the first Amped game. And to say I was unimpressed is like saying the pope shits in the woods, or that bears are catholic. It was unimpressive on every level. No matter how much we played it, we could never warm to the earlier incarnation of the game...

Now Amped 3 is here, and we've slapped it in our Xbox 360 to see how much things have improved, if at all. And let's cut to the chase... they have. Massively!

The snowboarding parts of Amped3 kick those of Amped into a cocked hat (one of those funny three pointed fleece jester ones that snowboarders sometimes wear). The action is fluid and fast and the levels are huge and well designed.

There's the usual huge selection of tricks to pull - but this time they are more manageable. So linking combo tricks is more natural and landings are easier. A little too easy in this reviewer's opinion. But this is still an improvement overall. I've seen other reviewers saying that tricks were difficult to land, but they must either be incredibly poor gamers, or just have a basic lack of spatial awareness. As long as you don't hold on to a grab for too long, or make the obvious mistake of trying to land upside down, you'll rarely fail to land an arial in Amped 3. The game does not even require you to align your board with the fall line to land successfully. Rail tricks and butters are a different matter. Both of these use a balance bar, and you have to use the joystick to keep it in the sweet spot, these are, for us at least, much trickier to perform successfully. Rail transfers are also tricky to do, but when pulled off, you can make insane lateral jumps.

The problem is that the good snowboarding playability in Amped 3 is shrouded in a story-based gameplay that is at first opaque and confusing, and the interface, rather than elucidating and guiding you through things, sometimes makes things more confusing. The loading screens are used to present useful hints and tips, but the (mercifully) short loading times mean that these disappear before you have a chance to read them.

The (would be) useful (if you had time to read them) tips are accompanied by some pretty funny adverts, cut scenes and general madness, that set the tone for the game overall. Amped has a rich vein of humour running along its entire length. This is reinforced in the graphics, which incorporate everything from Beatles-era psychedlia and the sketchbooks of a decidedly disturbed mind to Japanese Manga.

OK, I'm knocking on a bit now, and I might not be the demographic that this game is aiming for. But as I groped around the opening levels of Amped3, the gaggle of younger and hipper gamers gathered around the screen couldn't point me in the right direction to "Meet hunter near the Pioneer lift". And it would seem, neither could the on screen arrow. In a way this is a bit like real life snowboarding, where you know that you want to get the Le Brévent in time to meet your sking buddies for lunch, but by 11:45 you find yourself at the bottom of La Flégere. The thing is, it's just as annoying in a game as it is in real life too - moreso, in fact, because in real life you don't get a little floating arrow supposedly showing you the right way to go. But unlike real life, you can jump from any point on the mountain to the top of any lift with a single click, you don't have to ride the mountain in a 'logical' fashion - linking lifts geographically.
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zoydwheeler 3 Dec 2005 15:31
this is one of the only line-up games i'm pumped about man! (see, i'm an authentic snowboarder too)

forget the story - the only think i want to know is what're the multiplayer options like?
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