Amped 3 Review
|Release Date:||December 2nd (UK)|
|Reviewer:||Brian Rae (Bri)|
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk|
Creating a game for a launch line-up is a difficult task, with massive amounts of hype to live up to and new boundaries to be broken. If that's not challenging enough, giving the Amped franchise a complete over-haul in the process is risky business. Indie Built certainly know how to deliver though, as the risks have definitely paid off in this off-the-wall sequel to a previously no-nonsense snowboarding game.
Graphics aren't Amped 3 strongest suit, which is a little disappointing in a 'next-generation' title. The draw distance is fairly impressive, you are able to see a fair way down the mountain and there are some very nice backdrops to boot, but the game suffers from a tremendous amount of pop-up with trees and other snowboarders constantly appearing from nowhere. There are also some serious clipping issues, your character passes through large rocks and rails on numerous occasions.
The character models are very nicely done. Theres a high level of detail in the clothes and gear, which look really crisp, especially when viewed in High Definition. The trick animations look stunning, although this seems to lack when your just riding down the mountain, as your rider can often look very rigid and static.
Physics play a part in the crash-landings and sledge modes, with the game adopting the Havok physics engine. Take a tumble and see the rider spiral down the mountain head over heel. Although its nothing too advanced, it is rather amusing and looks more impressive than most animated crash sequences in other games.
There are also a few little features that add to the overall experience and help draw you into the feeling of actually being there. Snowflakes appear to be ultra realistic, and the splatter effect of being struck by a snowball is a quirky little touch.
There really isn't much to say regarding the sound effects. Everything sounds just how you would expect it to. One thing worth pointing out though is the soundtrack. Theres something for everyone music-wise, with tons of tunes available from the off and as unlockable extras throughout. Most of the songs manage to capture the mood of the game just right and make it much more enjoyable.
The game revolves around a story mode reminiscent of the Tony Hawk's Underground series, which sees your custom-made character accused of a crime they didn't commit and it's up to you to take to the slopes to find out who set you up and win back your friends. It may sound like a pretty shallow game plot so far, and to some extent it is, but once you factor in the ninjas, sock-puppets, evil corporations, diabolical schemes and Russian TV game shows, it's a story that will keep you hooked just to see what happens next. The different styles and mediums used to create the cut-scenes give the game a unique feel and a certain charm. You could be forgiven for thinking you've accidentally switched over to a cheesy Saturday morning cartoon show from time to time due to the use of anime and stop-motion animation, but it all helps to transform a fairly mundane story into a hilarious narrative which pushes the game along nicely.
Aside from the story missions there are hundreds of challenges littered around the mountains. There are various different styles of challenge to attempt. The usual mix of earning a certain amount points or racing from checkpoint to checkpoint are all still present, but there are some gems which are immensely fun to play. One set of challenges sees you hurtling down the mountain on a sledge with the aim of causing as much physical harm to yourself as possible, and others have you showing off your skills with the snowmobile to impress the laydeez or attempting a death defying leap of faith in a hang-glider. The higher you rank on each challenge the more extras you unlock. Earn cash to buy more stylish clothes and accessories, unlock extra music, new gear for your rider, special attributes to help pull off longer/faster tricks, new sledges to race down the mountain on to further your goal of self-injury and 'build points', with which to buy track furniture to be used in the games excellent designer mode (more on that later.) The sheer number of events available is guaranteed to keep you busy for a long while, and trying to get the elusive Supreme Snow God achievement of a gold in each one will require a lot of effort.
If you fancy a break from the story and events your free to go off-piste and explore the mountains at your leisure. The environments are huge, and give the impression of a living, breathing community. Other boarders whiz past as you hurtle downhill, going about their own business or doing their own tricks, groups of friends sit around in the snow and get too close to some folk and expect to see some snowballs flying your way, the effects of them hitting the screen is a nice little touch that just adds to the games playful demeanor. With the aid of the lifts, snowmobiles and sledges, navigating around the mountain from challenge to challenge is a simple, yet enjoyable experience. If you want to skip straight to a certain section, the Trail Map can be used to be dropped at the start of certain runs and is a useful guide, showing the exact locations of all the hot-spots and points of interest and enables you to set way points to events to easily navigate your way around.
One of the games coolest features, as mentioned before, is the Park Designer. With the build points you earn from challenges and with the extra items you can acquire you're free to create your own crazy obstacle courses, monster rails or just create some bad-ass jumps to aid in achieving higher ranks in the challenges or maybe just for a bit of reckless fun. These can be placed absolutely anywhere on the mountain, giving you free reign to create the mountain of your dreams with unlimited customization options.
Overall, this is a very impressive launch title from Indie Built. Fans of the series may be in for a bit of a shock with the new style and direction of the game, but it feels a lot more accessible than its predecessors and much more enjoyable due to the more forgiving control system and 'tongue in cheek' approach. It'll definitely keep you entertained for a while with so much to do and so much to customise. The inclusion of an Xbox Live (or at the very least, Split-Screen) multiplayer mode would have been welcomed, as opposed to only having the online leader boards. It seems like a rather strange feature to leave out, but hopefully we'll see it return in the future. It may not have all the graphical finesse of other launch titles, but despite it's flaws still manages to look very impressive and be a lot of fun.
- Amusing story-mode which will entertain you till the end
- Hundreds of challenges to keep you busy
- Awesome soundtrack
- Perfect game to kickback and chill out to
Not so good stuff
- Very limited multi-player support
- Pop-up and Clipping issues
- Not exactly 'next-gen' graphics
All screenshots used here were either officially released or are from the games' official site.
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