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Amped

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Microsoft
Publisher:   Microsoft
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Sports
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Memory Card, Hard Drive (rip tracks)
Date Posted:  

01-04-01

Anyone that was watching the Xbox blitz of hype in the last year remembers one glaring error on Microsoft's part: the release of fake screenshots of a snowboarding game known as Amped. For a while, Microsoft looked to be a laughing stock and the press on Amped seemed to die down. Jump to the present day. The Xbox is now in stores and Amped is on the shelves. So can it save itself from the curse of the fake screenshots?

Yes.

The first thing that drew my attention when I started to play Amped was the fact that they actual game graphics look dead on with the Paintshop pictures they gave us earlier. You see wake trails behind your board and cut marks through the snow. Landscapes look realistic and the scenery is absolutely beautiful. The courses offer tons of things to pull tricks off of, ranging from half-pipes to logs/rails, to several other imaginative places (like snowdrifts, houses, ramps, rocks, etc). The best part is that nothing really seems out of place. The graphics flow solidly and I haven't experienced any sort of slowdown yet even with 3 other snowboarders flying past me spraying snow in their wake. So to sum of the graphics in what seems to by my trademark term: Purdy colors.

Many games have showed us that all the graphics don't mean anything if the title lacks gameplay. Amped manages to deliver in the gameplay section as well. Think a frozen version of the ever-favorite Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Basically, you fly around a course pulling tricks to break scores. You can do a quick session, a multiplayer session, or a career mode. The career mode is groundbreaking. Usually, the career modes are fairly lame in these types of games (I hope that doesn't get my lynched by the Tony Hawk crowd), but Amped does something different. You start off as a local rider with a low ranking. As you pull tricks (and high scores), you gain the attention of the media, sponsors, and pro boarders. Unlike Tony hawk, you don't have to do any of the stupid trivial things like collect letters or hit barrels. Instead, you pull tricks and get points. If you see ! a red emblem coming up on the course, that means to try to pull a huge trick because there's going to be a guy with a nice camera to take a mugshot of you. Gain enough points to break the point and the media point records in career, you get a tryout for a sponsor. By breaking scores and gaining sponsors, you open up new slopes to repeat the process. Really, the only trivial thing in the career mode is that every slope has 8 snowmen hidden on it and they want you to basically hit them. However, I've ignored that in favor of pulling some sick combos off the ramps (onto a ski-lift wire and off that to a rail). If you don't want to do a ground up rider in the career mode, there are a whole group of real pros you can choose from for the quick-action and multiplayer options.

The control is extremely similar to Tony hawk's, although the right analog stick when hit in the air allows you to pull off different tricks. It sounds awkward to do, and it is at first. However, after 30 minutes, I had the hang of the controls. The one glaring flaw I have with the controls is the grinding seems completely off. It took me forever to figure out that if you approach a rail and simply press the grind button, your rider does it automatically. What about getting on a rail around the middle of it? It takes way too much practice for what its worth. You need to jump and time the button hit or you wind up holding your board. That brings up another issue: sluggish controls. Movement is fairly precise with the analog stick, but the rest of the controls are too sluggish for my liking. Its not major after you get used to the controls, but its still fairly! annoying (to me at least).

This is the part where I mention the extra stuff they have. Well, they have a ton of clothes from real life companies and sponsors. Its pretty cool to deck out your rider with all sorts of real life clothes and equipment you've unlocked through the career mode. The soundtrack has something for everyone. If you haven't heard about this one, Microsoft went to a ton of independent labels and got them to put their artists in the game. Every type of music is represented, from rock to punk to emo to hip hop to rap to electronica. And unlike almost every other game with real music, it doesn't get repetitive. There's something like 200 tracks in this game. Plus, you can customize your playlist if you don't feel like hearing a certain genera of music. Some people may say "Aww!! I wanted to hear <insert major band here>!" No problem. Thanks to the on board hard drive, you can rip tracks out of your CD collection, save them to the hard drive, and you can hear them in Amped. This basically gives it near unlimited potential in musical variety, so even if by some freak chance you can't find something you like in the soundtrack, you can still jam out to your favorite tunes.

Highs:

  • Purdy Colors
  • Great Soundtrack
  • Awesome Career mode

Lows:

  • Controls take getting used to
  • Grinding takes getting used to

Final Verdict: 

If you own an Xbox and like Tony Hawk, skip out on 2X and get this great game. If you own an Xbox period, at least give it a try. This is one of the better games I've played in the past year. A great break from the sometimes too dead serious games out there.

Overall Score: 9.4

Additional Images:

 


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