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Amped: Freestyle Snowbaording




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Taking a different direction with its first party snowbarding title, Microsoft lets everybody know it is paying attention to the details.

Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding is Microsoft's answer in the snowboarding extreme sports category, and gives players a chance to see how real pro snow boarders earn their stripes. There currently is a wealth of snowboarding games to choose from on the Xbox and it is important for a game to have a feature that makes it stand out among the rest. Prime examples of this are SSX Tricky and Dark Summit. SSX Tricky stands out because of the outrageous tricks and innovative level design, Dark Summit stands out for its blending of 3 different and unique styles of play. Amped shines in the regards that it's an accurate representation of Snowboarding as a pro sport.

You will not find many outlandish stunts like in SSX Tricky. Instead you will find that the stunts are for the most part realistic and could be done by a pro snowboarder. Another interesting aspect is that for the time ever in a video game you actually get to see what it is like behind the scenes of pro snowboarding. During the game's career mode players must compete with other pro boarders, show off for the media that litter the courses and try to impress sponsors by performing certain tricks. The majority of the game will be played in this mode and it's the key to unlocking additional boarders, mountains, boards, clothes, boots and goggles.

Amped also has a multi-player mode that allows players to compete in different contests: King of the Hill, Best Trick and High Score. In King of the hill, the first player's run becomes a pro challenge which the other remaining players to follow. In high score players compete to get the highest score by performing tricks for the media. And in best trick, the highest scoring trick wins the match. You have the option to select the length of time that each player's turn will last and be able to choose one of three mods to play over your round type. In Dash till you Crash the players run lasts until he wipes out, in trick or die the player must perform a trick with in the time allowed or loses his/her turn or you can choose the standard round type. The lack of a split screen mode may be disappointing to some but the game looks so good it doesn't deserve to be trimmed down to fit in 2 screens.

And with the graphics, Amped delivers on some levels but falters with others. For example, the draw-in distance is as far as your eye can see. However, the levels are surprisingly somewhat short. Many times it feels like the trip down the mountain is over before it begins. The character models are animated nicely but the lack of animation regarding the tricks is somewhat disappointing. Amped does feature however some very nice particle effects from the falling snow. One of the main faults with Amped's graphics is the fact that it looks like a souped up Playstation 2 game. Which is not necessary a bad thing but with the most powerful hardware currently on the market, it is our right to expect more.

The music track for Amped is very impressive. The sound track features over 150 different musical tracks ranging from ska, to metal to hip hop. You will be able to play the game for 6 hours with out hearing the same tune twice. And once you're tired of the provided tunes you will be able to use your own. That right, one of the nicest features in Amped is the ability to use your own soundtrack in this game. There is nothing like snowboarding down a mountain while your listening to Metallica (or Wayne Newton if that's your thing).

You have the ability to change the control setup but the default control setting is like this. The left analog stick controls the steering, flips and spins with the right stick controls the grabs. The B button controls the grinds. Gameplay wise, Amped is solid but unfortunately does not draw you in like SSX Tricky does. Snowboard game vets wont have a problem picking up the controls for this game but with the combination of the length of the mountain courses and the sometimes-questionable physics it's all too easy to put the game down and not pick it up.

It looks good, it sounds good, and it plays good but unfortunately it's just not as fun as it should be. This is where Amped takes it's biggest hit. The levels are not timed - in those that require you to meet a set point limit; it is very easy to just perform the same move over and over again to get the necessary score. The lack of difficulty in certain areas drops the replayability.

Mike Regan
Loves it when developers add the option to listen to your own soundtrack in a game.

Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding: The Scores













The Final Word:  Overall, Amped is a solid but not with out its flaws. It's the first game ever released that captures the behind the scene aspects of a pro snowboarder. And I hope other developers follow Microsoft's lead and release more games which allow you to manage and take control of the behind the scenes in pro sports. Sure, the franchise mode is nice in some sports games but it could be expounded upon and improved. For those who want the over the top style of gameplay like SSX Tricky you might want to look elsewhere. But for all others, who want a solid addition to your Xbox library look no further.

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