Amped Freestyle Snowboarding
One of the better launch games for the Xbox was Amped Freestyle Snowboarding. On the face of it, it may appear to be a clone of games such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater and it's snowboarding variation Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder. Actually this is a big mistake to make as we shall see later on. Amped is a good game in it's own right and will surprise people by giving them a satisfying but yet different experience to the games that have gone before.
The game offers both a single player mode and a multiplayer mode but out of these two modes it is the single player side of the game that really shines. The single player game is primarily concerned with taking your snowboarder through a career. Starting at the very bottom of the ladder, with hardly any ability and only one venue to snowboard at, the idea of this mode is take your snowboarder to the top of the world rankings. This is a long undertaking and requires you to achieve a multitude of goals. The multiplayer side of the game is a little lacklustre with the aim of the game being to simply out trick each other or as in the case of King of the hill the first player goes down the slope and then the following player has to emulate the run.
To achieve progress in your career you are going to have to earn high scores for your tricks, perform well in the sight of the media and earn media points, impress the sponsors, follow the pro snowboarder down the slopes and perform exactly the same tricks as they do and finally you will have to explore the slopes and find all the eight snowmen. For each of the locations there is three high scores that must be achieved and three media scores that must be achieved. Of course should you pass more than one of the scores in a single run then you will be credited with multiple awards.
To achieve the media scores you have to perform in front of the paparazzi. A red icon designates the area where these paparazzi are and when you perform a trick next to them a camera overlay appears onscreen and the score for your trick will be in a different colour to let you know that those points will become media points.
When it comes to the sponsors you will be told, in text, what kind of tricks the sponsor prefers. Performing the tricks successfully will increase the sponsors satisfaction on the Amped meter. This Amped meter begins at bored and rises all the way to amped. When you cross the finish line the meter must be showing amped for you to have succeeded. With the completion of certain tasks, you unlock other locations and earn skill points that can be used to boost your abilities in one of five areas. For example, speed or jump.
The locations are huge and have different slopes for you to explore. Most slopes have loads of slopes, rails etc. that you can trick off. It is also possible to go down most slopes at least a half a dozen ways as they are far wider than in any previous game of this nature.
If you've played Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or one of it's sequels/variants then you will have to attempt to forget what you have learned in those games. Unlike the gotta press 'em all nature of the aforementioned games, Amped is a more calculated affair and more often than not a single button press at the right time will reap far greater rewards. One thing I will say though is that the learning curve for the game is greater than that of THPS and it's variants. You shouldn't let this put you off though because when it starts to click the tricks can be very satisfying. If any of you played Shaun Palmer's Pro Snowboarder you will remember how stupidly hard it was to land a trick. In amped all that is required is that you keep your snowboarder straight when landing which is a great relief. It wouldn't be fair to say the game is realistic but it is closer than many other games in this genre.
Graphically the game is very good. Don't get me wrong it ain't no Halo but the detail given to the character models and the nature of the snow actually makes you feel like you're out in the freezing cold. The spray of snow that jets off the back of the snowboard has been superbly done and the whole look of the slopes in general looks great.
Text feedback within the game is of a high standard. The only vocal elements that weren't subtitled were the onlooker taunts and compliments and to be honest they don't do anything for the game anyway.
Overall Game Rating: 8.6/10 Amped is a fine game that offers plenty of depth and a long lifespan. Some may moan about the learning curve but persevere and you will find plenty of enjoyment to be had.
Deaf Gamers comment: No problems for the deaf gamer here. The only thing missing is the onlooker taunts and compliments and to be honest this doesn't affect the gameplay at all.