Amped 2 Xbox
by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Microsoft Game Studios
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
Fans of snowboarding games have a lot to be happy about just lately. Recently we reviewed the Xbox version of SSX 3 and very enjoyable it was too. However there is another snowboarding series on Xbox that, while it isn't an out and out arcade experience like the SSX series, is nevertheless enjoyable. That series is of course Amped. The first game arrived with the launch of the Xbox and whilst more difficult than most extreme sports games, it certainly proved to be one of the best snowboarding titles to date. Now, just in time for the build up to Christmas, we have Amped 2.
Amped 2, like its prequel, is a freestyle snowboarding game. You won't find any races or any other diverse activities in the game. It's all about tricks and how effective you are at performing them. Once again you create your own character (although you can't create custom features etc. like you could in Top Spin or Tiger Woods 2004) and begin at the bottom of the pile. You'll have to progress through the top 250 rankings to become number one. To do this you'll have to achieve multiple goals including high trick scores, high media scores (performing tricks within the range of a photographer), please film directors by literally jumping (well tricking) through hoops and doing crazy stuff like knocking over snowmen that are scattered around the course to name just a few objectives. There are around seven mountains in all to perform on and each mountain has several routes for you to use. It's not all about simply completing objectives though and there are four events to take part in too. In fact if you've played the first game you'll know exactly what's expected.
Amped 2 doesn't appear to have the steep learning curve that Amped had. I struggled to get to grips with Amped but I've got quite comfortable with the controls with only a few hours play this time around. Anyone familiar with games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 should be at home with Amped 2s control system. It's now possible to perform butter moves (which is essentially a board press and implemented in exactly the same way as manuals in THPS 3) to link your tricks together and amass big combo scores. You can even add style to your tricks through subtle movements of the left analogue stick during a trick which can really increase your trick score. Performing tricks is more complex than in SSX 3 mind you, but it's worth putting the extra effort in.
One of the most noticeable additions with Amped 2 is the Xbox Live gameplay. We mentioned the XSN Sports service in our Top Spin review and Amped 2 is another title that will be supported by the service (although at the time of writing XSN support for Amped 2 isn't enabled). Once support is fully up and running (and tournaments etc. are arranged), it will add a whole new dimension to Amped 2. You can of course set up a quick match and optimatch game like in any other Xbox Live title. If you don't have access to Xbox Live there are split screen and system link options which are OK but don't have the potential of the Xbox Live features.
Amped 2 looks quite a bit better than the original Amped. There are no ultra bright tones here like in SSX 3 but a more realistic textured look that suits the more realistic nature of the game. What I didn't like though was the clipping problems in the game. It's not uncommon for your snowboarder to go straight through trees and other various obstacles. It doesn't spoil the gameplay but it does look awful which is a shame because the standard of the graphics is much better than in the original Amped. The framerate remains smooth throughout however, and whilst Amped 2 isn't a racing snowboard game it's still good to have no slowdown.
As you would expect Amped 2 is generally fine for deaf gamers. With all information being delivered exclusively in text there are no real problems. Occasionally you'll get taunts from other snowboarders if you mess up a trick or praise if you mange to do a really 'sick' trick, meaning good, but these comments are not shown in text. In fairness though the subtitles would prove too obtrusive. The tutorials aren't fully subtitled but all the instructions and key comments are shown in text so there are no problems there.
If you effectively want a Tony Hawk's Pro Skater type game on a snowboard then Amped 2 should really appeal to you. If you're looking for a real easy time of it though and fancy plenty of diverse activities within a game then you'll be better off with SSX 3 which is more accessible to the casual gamer. That said though Amped 2 is definitely worth all the effort you put into it. If you enjoyed Amped it's safe to say that you'll be very pleased with Amped 2 and it's also fair to say that if you found Amped a little difficult then you might still enjoy Amped 2 as it's more accessible this time around.
Game Rating: 8.0/10
Amped 2 is definitely more accessible than Amped but essentially the format of the game remains pretty much the same. With full Xbox Live support and future XSN Sports support (when activated) this is definitely a very solid snowboarding freestyle experience.
Not fully subtitled but the nature of the game means there are no real problems.