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Brendan
04 Apr, 2006

Amped 3 Review

360 Review | Snowboarding - to the extreme, of course.
Amped 3 is weird. Not just any kind of weird, oh no. We’re talking Katamari weird, in regards to the game's cut-scenes and presentation. Think soviet sock puppets, disturbing paper cut-out animations, irrelevant 8-bit cut-scenes and plenty more as a way to introduce the next objective (or sometimes for no reason at all) and you’ll have an idea of what we mean. Yet, beneath this spectacularly oddball presentation is a snowboarding game, of all things. Thankfully, it is almost as good at being a trick-based snowboarding experience as it is at being completely bonkers. Not quite, though. However, fans of the series should beware that the game has shifted away from a simulation focus to for a more arcade oriented game – this isn’t Amped as we know it.

Somewhat surprisingly, the game is strongly story-driven. When starting the game for the first time, you’ll be given the option of creating a character – nothing too fancy, mind. From there, you plunge into the main story. Your character is apart of a snowboarding crew, led by a man who has dreams of snowboarding grandeur, JDawg. Progression through the story generally depends on you getting enough respect points (achieved by performing any of the various sub-missions, such as collect these items or get a score this high, scattered around the mountains) to unlock the next story mission. These are generally similar to (or sometimes actually are) the sub-missions, with some exceptions. Each chapter of the story you defeat opens up new sections of a mountain, or a new mountain entirely. The story is actually pretty interesting, if not rather unrealistic, with a few nice twists along the way to keep you interested.

Rails will get you totally sick and bodacious points. Or something.

Rails will get you totally sick and bodacious points. Or something.
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Each section of the mountain is completely free-flowing – you can go anywhere that’s physically viable to reach. Missions are marked via a big circle and icon that’s easy to spot from far away – that’s right, you have to board to each mission’s position on the mountain if you want to attempt it. Thankfully, navigation is simple – select your mission from the trail map and an arrow just above your character’s head will always point the way, and it’s easy to pick it up once you’re going in the right direction. The game is almost completely open ended though, so you can get away with doing whatever you want - be it playing through the story, getting on with the various sub-missions around the mountains, or just cruising around on your snowboard. There’s also a snowmobile and sled that you can switch to at any time, should you get bored of the trusty, umm, board.

The actual snowboarding itself isn’t anything particularly new. As mentioned, it’s a lot simpler to get into compared to the first Amped games – think SSX but without the racing, and you’re on track. Pressing combinations of X, Y, B and a direction on the analog stick will perform a plethora of visually impressive moves. Holding the stick in any direction will add a spin or flip to the move, obviously. Most things can also be grinded – automatically now, rather than having to press a button to latch on to the rail. There’s also a move called ‘butter’, which works exactly like the manual in the various Tony Hawk’s games. Basically, hit up and down quickly, and your border will lean up or down on the board, enabling you to link together endless tricks for a ridiculously high score. Then there’s the style tricks – after you perform a trick, hold the stick half way to the edge. Time will slow down, and rack up some extra points for looking radical. There are various other ways to tweak your tricks too, so, while it’s easy to get into, it takes a lot longer to master.

We don't mean to brag, we don't mean to boast, but we like hot BUTTER on our breakfast toast.

We don't mean to brag, we don't mean to boast, but we like hot BUTTER on our breakfast toast.
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The biggest problem with Amped 3 is that the game physics are stuck in the last generation - or present, depending on your general viewpoint – and they were never brilliant to begin with. When you’re cruising in a straight line, jumping off ramps and so on as the game intends you to do, everything is fairly gnarly – aside from the board steering, which can be highly unpredictable if you’re traveling across, rather than down, a slope. Get into a position where you shouldn’t be though, and things get weird. At low speed in close quarters, boards can’t be controlled with a whole lot of precision (and if you get stuck, the game will reset you – often in the exact same spot). Hitting objects doesn’t always result in a crash, instead usually bouncing off the object at a weird angle. When you do actually crash, your border rolls along the snow – or in the air – in a very unconvincing matter, before sliding up to their feet. It can be horribly frustrating, unrealistic and just looks plain awkward. There are non-snow sections which close out each part of the mountains, some of which don’t seem to have any clipping, allowing you to go straight through them. Then there’s the snowmobile physics, which suggest the entire idea was somewhat of a last-minute addition. Masochists out there will be glad to know that ragdoll physics have been included and are especially apparent when you go sledding, where the objective is to try and rack up points by crashing really well.

We’ve already mentioned how weird the game is, and without decent art design, the game could fall flat on its face. Thankfully, it doesn’t. The art design is interesting as well as being unique, and generally is, at least, either likeable or funny. In game, the graphics aren’t quite as interesting. Riders receive the most detail and are immaculately modeled – as you would expect from the 360 hardware. Like most 360 games at this stage though, they do suffer from some rather stiff animation at times, though. The draw distance is rather excellent – you can see the entire mountain, and people partaking in various activities, from the summit. But, take away the flashy art design and consider the new hardware, and it’s nothing particularly special. The soundtrack follows the Amped tradition of using little known and independent recording artists – whether this is good or bad depends on preference. Tracks are largely made up of indie tunes, so if this isn’t your thing, you won’t have a big affinity for the game’s audio. The voice acting, both by characters and in the random cut-scenes, is incredibly cheesy and not brilliant from a technical standpoint – but it works, even if it sounds like one guy voices half the game.

Snowboarding... Into Oblivion.

Snowboarding... Into Oblivion.
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The single-player game is a lengthy experience, which many mountains littered with many different challenges that have enough variety. The story mode itself will last quite a while. There’s also a medal system for the challenge – bronze, silver or gold for each one – that will keep some players coming back for more. On the negative slope, if you would pardon the pun, the only use of Xbox Live in Amped 3 is for the online leader boards, which is incredibly baffling. Why not some online races, or trick-fests? Two player options are also limited to a few challenges during the game, which is a bit of a disappointment to say the least. So while this game is lengthy, it’s long as an offline single-player experience only.

Despite its flaws, Amped 3 stands out amongst the other Xbox 360 launch titles – largely because its so flippin’ weird. But, strange and rather creative presentation and art design aside, the game does manage to back up its overly lavish exterior with some solid, if not flawed, trick-based snowboarding gameplay. You can go anywhere, and trick away – be it on a snowboard, sled or even a snowmobile. The physics could use some work, some online gameplay could be added and the game hardly a showcase of the new console’s abilities, but for a fun snowboarding game, Amped 3 fits the bill quite nicely.
The Score
A highly competent – if not flawed – snowboarding game with a style comparable to no other. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Amped 3 Content

Amped 3 demo now available on Live
12 Apr, 2006 Want to play before you pay? Snow problem! [Fired - Ed]
Amped 3 Preview
16 Mar, 2006 Next-gen on LSD...
Amped 3 Images
16 Aug, 2005 We just snow you'll never get board of this.
4 Comments
8 years ago
The trailer for Amped3 is insane, I think I'll buy this sometime after the price has dropped a little.
8 years ago
you didnt make it clear what was weird about it... at least not in the first four paragraphs. was it the presentation? the menus? what?
8 years ago
The music is certainly weird. It doesn't sound like anything I've heard before... well before I turn it off before my ears start bleeding. It's not my kind of music. On the back of the soundtrack cover it has a sock puppet in an American Highway Patrolman's uniform... using another sock puppet that's saying "Mmmm... Barbara" perhaps the use of sock puppets gets weirder then that in the game.
8 years ago
arbok wrote
you didnt make it clear what was weird about it... at least not in the first four paragraphs. was it the presentation? the menus? what?
Actually, yes he did. The first paragraph :

Quote
Amped 3 is weird. Not just any kind of weird, oh no. We’re talking Katamari weird, in regards to the game's cut-scenes and presentation. Think soviet sock puppets, disturbing paper cut-out animations, irrelevant 8-bit cut-scenes and plenty more as a way to introduce the next objective (or sometimes for no reason at all) and you’ll have an idea of what we mean
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  2K Sports
Developer:
  2K Sports
Players:
  1-2

Read more...
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