Xbox 360 Review: Amped 3

Even if in some fantasy realm you managed to beat Amped 2, Amped 3 is not a game for you. The same goes for fans of the initial game in this series. As such, the radical departure from the realistic snowboarding action portrayed in the entries on the original Xbox has been wiped clean, and what we're left with is a goofy, strange, oddball, wacky, and easy-playing title that wants a bigger portion of the market to experience it.

Assuming you've slaughtered hundreds of hookers in GTA, understood the storyline in BOTH Katamari Damacy's, and track down the latest Cho Aniki title from Japan when they're released, you've never seen anything like Amped 3. Characters in this game's disturbingly funny cinematics include a Russian talking hand (complete with beard) and a pig's head on a platter. There may be some story to it all, but you're either laughing too hard to remember what happened or so turned off by zaniness you find yourself continually reaching for the start button to skip them all.

To reject the game based solely on the storyline is missing out on a game that will struggle desperately to gain its due. While the tricks are easier to pull off, this is still Amped underneath. Frustrating challenges from the first two games have been removed, and in their place are different frustrating challenges. You've never truly experienced a controller-tossing game until you've attempted to earn gold in the Magic Rings challenges, complete with trippy, almost taunting music reminding you of how evil this product truly is.

Aside from the story, you'll compete in a variety of challenges, some of which even encourage smashing your body to earn points. Yes, this IS that big of a departure for the series. What's easily missed is the technological feat of Amped 3. Make all the arguments about how the games don't look like a major leap, but this is what next gen gaming can do, and it has nothing to with graphics.

There's a distinct lack of menus in Amped. Aside from character item swapping and mountain moving, you'll never see one once in a game. Entire mountains are loaded in a matter of seconds, and the map isn't just a 2-D picture. It's the same thing you'll be shredding on in a matter of seconds, complete with every tree, ramp, and challenge. Zoom in and take a look if you're not sure. It's incredibly cohesive as an experience, and it's something the Xbox never could have done.

That's not saying this is a flawless system. It's downright aggravating in certain spots. Since you can't select a challenge and enter it, you'll need to get your rider to his/her/other destination using the main game engine. Even with the option to use a snowmobile, it can take some time to land at your chosen locale, especially when being clipped by trees, avoiding other riders, or hitting a ramp awkwardly. There's no excuse for not offering the ability to drop into a challenge, at least when you're a certain distance away.

Thankfully, the core snowboarding mechanics are still locked in place. They've been simplified drastically, so if you struggled to beat anything in the first two Amped's, you'll only stop a few times here. Spinning and flipping is far easier, along with everything else. Grabs feel natural, and the amount of rail grinding has quadrupled (to be conservative). It almost feels like you have to try to actually wipeout sometimes due to the generosity of the developers.

Nearly everything you'll be doing will be done solo. Multi-player modes are barren, and even though it seems made for it, don't expect to hop on Xbox Live with friends. There's no option to do so. It's likely all the time spent tweaking this and creating the insane cinematics took all the time developing this one, but that's still no excuse in this day of delays. If Nintendo can delay Zelda, 2K Sports can hold back Amped 3 to add some multi-player.

Amped 3 crashed into an awkward place, somewhere where game designers try and figure out what direction they want their franchise to go. It's ended up in two extremes, one experience left solely for the hardcore, and the other for, well, we'll never be sure exactly who Amped 3 was targeting, but it's different enough to become overlooked and under-appreciated. It's worth a shot if you know you're getting, have an acquired taste, and you don't mind the rather startling absence of acceptable multi-player.

(**** out of *****)


Assuming you've slaughtered hundreds of hookers in GTA, understood the storyline in BOTH Katamari Damacy's, and track down the latest Cho Aniki title from Japan when they're released, you've never seen anything like Amped 3. Characters in this game's disturbingly funny cinematics include a Russian talking hand (complete with beard) and a pig's head on a platter. There may be some story to it all, but you're either laughing too hard to remember what happened or so turned off by zaniness you find yourself continually reaching for the start button to skip them all.

To reject the game based solely on the storyline is missing out on a game that will struggle desperately to gain its due. While the tricks are easier to pull off, this is still Amped underneath. Frustrating challenges from the first two games have been removed, and in their place are different frustrating challenges. You've never truly experienced a controller-tossing game until you've attempted to earn gold in the Magic Rings challenges, complete with trippy, almost taunting music reminding you of how evil this product truly is.

Aside from the story, you'll compete in a variety of challenges, some of which even encourage smashing your body to earn points. Yes, this IS that big of a departure for the series. What's easily missed is the technological feat of Amped 3. Make all the arguments about how the games don't look like a major leap, but this is what next gen gaming can do, and it has nothing to with graphics.

There's a distinct lack of menus in Amped. Aside from character item swapping and mountain moving, you'll never see one once in a game. Entire mountains are loaded in a matter of seconds, and the map isn't just a 2-D picture. It's the same thing you'll be shredding on in a matter of seconds, complete with every tree, ramp, and challenge. Zoom in and take a look if you're not sure. It's incredibly cohesive as an experience, and it's something the Xbox never could have done.

That's not saying this is a flawless system. It's downright aggravating in certain spots. Since you can't select a challenge and enter it, you'll need to get your rider to his/her/other destination using the main game engine. Even with the option to use a snowmobile, it can take some time to land at your chosen locale, especially when being clipped by trees, avoiding other riders, or hitting a ramp awkwardly. There's no excuse for not offering the ability to drop into a challenge, at least when you're a certain distance away.

Thankfully, the core snowboarding mechanics are still locked in place. They've been simplified drastically, so if you struggled to beat anything in the first two Amped's, you'll only stop a few times here. Spinning and flipping is far easier, along with everything else. Grabs feel natural, and the amount of rail grinding has quadrupled (to be conservative). It almost feels like you have to try to actually wipeout sometimes due to the generosity of the developers.

Nearly everything you'll be doing will be done solo. Multi-player modes are barren, and even though it seems made for it, don't expect to hop on Xbox Live with friends. There's no option to do so. It's likely all the time spent tweaking this and creating the insane cinematics took all the time developing this one, but that's still no excuse in this day of delays. If Nintendo can delay Zelda, 2K Sports can hold back Amped 3 to add some multi-player.

Amped 3 crashed into an awkward place, somewhere where game designers try and figure out what direction they want their franchise to go. It's ended up in two extremes, one experience left solely for the hardcore, and the other for, well, we'll never be sure exactly who Amped 3 was targeting, but it's different enough to become overlooked and under-appreciated. It's worth a shot if you know what you're getting, have an acquired taste, and you don't mind the rather startling absence of acceptable multi-player.

(*** out of *****)

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