"Snowboarding for the hardcore"
Amped was an Xbox Launch title and received a moderate response. Two years later we have Amped 2, and in many ways it remains the same as the first one but the new additions push this game from moderately average to impressive. It's still not the best snowboarding game on the market but the improvements have helped significantly.
Amped 2 features a very extensive career mode just like the original. You start off as a local hack who wants to make it to the big time. Instead of 100 ranks like the original game, you now have to work your way up to number one from 250 and thus there is more challenges to complete obviously. As you complete challenges you get the opportunity to improve various aspects of your rider such as balance, and big air. These affect how well your boarder can shred down the snow covered mountains.
Practice makes perfect is a saying very relevant to Amped 2. The original Amped was one of the toughest games on the market at the time and Amped 2 has kept it in the family, although it is a little easier. It does take a while to start liking Amped 2 but put the effort in because once your boarder is somewhat built up after a little while the game becomes incredibly enjoyable. As the Amped series is based around realism as opposed to arcade, party fun ala SSX 3 it can take sometime to adjust to the style of play.
Each mountain offers various challenges for players to complete and as these challenges are completed your rank will move up. For most of the game this remains the same as the original. Mountains have set high scores to beat and the media score makes a return. For those not familiar with the original, media score tasks you with having to score a set number of points at various points on the mountain. Other challenges include the Pro challenge where you have to beat the scores posted by a professional in a single run and photo shoots. Beating these challenges also give you points to spend on your characters abilities.
You can customise the character you choose for career mode in a variety of ways. When you first start Amped 2 the game will ask if you want to be a male or female character and which head you would like to use. From then on the look of the character is up to you. You can change what they are wearing (including putting them in a singlet or bikini, a bit cold though?), their board, beanies etc. This can be changed at any time throughout the career and Amped 2 features numerous licensed products from names such as Burton.
Amped 2 also features two styles of board, the snowboard and snowskate. For most of the game you will be using the snowboard but occasionally you will be tasked with using a snowskate. A snowskate is basically a modified skateboard used for snowboarding. Your feet aren't strapped to the board so when doing flips a grab must be used or the board will fly off. Snowskate is already quite popular on Xbox Live and is definitely one of the best and most enjoyable additions to the game since the original two years ago.
If you just want a quick bash around a mountain, Amped 2 also has a free ride mode. In this mode you can choose any mountain has been unlocked from the career mode and either use your own character or one of the professionals in the game. Using the professionals at an early stage can show you how far your character can advance in terms of moves, style and balance once moving up the rankings. Professionals include Bobby Meeks and Janna Meyen.
The game play in Amped 2 is extremely unforgiving. When you first start to build a character even if your only just off on the landing then the character will most likely end up in a heap on the snow. Also as you play the game you will notice that the moves in Amped 2 have been replicated from real world tricks and therefore are not over the top insane tricks you would typically find in a game such as SSX 3. It can be frustrating at first but stick with it because with patience comes reward.
Controls for Amped 2 can take a little while to get accustomed to and you at times feel like you are fighting them. The right thumbstick is used to determine which type of grab during flips such as melon and mute, and the face buttons for jump etc. One nice feature is the game will help out if you are making a consistent mistake. For instance if you keep holding A instead of letting it go on jumps a hint will appear in the bottom left hand corner telling you to let it go.
Amped 2 features seven real world mountains including Mount Buller from Victoria. Other mountains include Millicent, Breckenridge, Laax and a mountain from New Zealand. Each mountain features numerous drop points which are determined by either you choosing them or which task your playing. Some are set in areas with snow villages etc whilst others such as the New Zealand mountain are in really remote areas. The draw distance is stunning and the backgrounds used really add to the atmosphere and the realism. Some mountains and drop points are more enjoyable then others.
Visually Amped 2 is very appealing with the aforementioned stunning mountains and great animations of characters. It, however is not one of the best looking games on the system but a vast improvement on the original game. The soundtrack featured is the best soundtrack on the Xbox. 300 indie tracks in a variety of genres and you can select the genres you wish to listen to.
Amped 2 supports Xbox Live with many different game modes. Modes such as King of the Mountain where each section is given a star and the player who scores the highest owns that star, high score where the player with the highest score wins and trick race. There are already quite a few people playing the game online and the game runs smooth almost all the time.
There will be comparisons between SSX 3 and Amped 2 but its like comparing apples and oranges, it shouldn't be done. Amped 2 does what it set out to do well and although it can be frustratingly hard at times, offers a quality sequel. If you want arcade, party fun get SSX 3. If you want the most accurate and realistic simulation of snowboarding thus far get Amped 2.
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