Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy |
Nov 11th 2003
Amped was released along side the Xbox on its launch, exactly when I purchased my Xbox. So Amped being my first Xbox game which I was excited about its sequel. Although I never reached #1 in the game I was in the top 10. I have been totally ‘amped’ for the sequel and it has finally arrived.
Amped 2 delivers all the Amped did and more. The game just didn’t boost the graphics and give us more mountains to jump off; it added a more refined control and point system, snow skates, more challenges and more satisfying frustration.
In Amped 2 when you start up the game you will be presented with a few choices in gameplay modes. There is the impressive Career mode, Free Ride and Multiplayer modes, the Replay Theater, and the always helpful Tutorials mode. Each game mode is pretty self explanatory. With ‘Free Ride’ you can play as one of the real life pros and go for high scores on all the unlocked mountains, if you are learning the game it might be good to play through with a pro boarder to learn some tricks before you start with you lesser skilled custom character. Another nice section to get a grip on the control scheme of Amped 2 is to play through the very helpful Tutorial mode which teaches you all the basics to get you started. The replay theater is where you can view your saved runs and the multiplayer is where you can free run or play in competition with others over the Xbox Live network.
In career mode you will be on your way to success trying to achieve the number one spot in the world rankings. You first create your character which has a number of nice visual and stylistic touchups from the first game. You can edit a number of different features about your boarder from your hair style and colour to the brand of gloves you wear on the track. This is a fun nice addition to the game and lets you play dress up. If you have always wanted to go down hill in the winter sporting a Mohawk and no shirt (or in bra for women) here is your chance. After your boarder is visually appealing to you, it’s time to hit the mountain.
Amped 2 plays off with a bunch of mountains in which you will have to complete different challenges to move forward in the world rankings. Not all mountains are unlocked at the beginning, but once you start to climb in the ranks from 200 up, more will become available. The challenges in each mountain are as follows: High Score, Media Score, Sponsor, Photo Shoot, Pro and one Legend Challenge. Out of five of those six you will have to complete three challenges for each, each one ramping up the difficulty level. There are two new additions to Amped 2. The Camera shots Challenge where you have to jump through illuminated rings in a certain path while the photo gopher takes pictures for his publication. It’s a great idea to have this included, although they are the most difficult out of all the challenges. The legend mode is also new though few will have the diligence to make it to this part. When you finished the game and unlocked all the other challenges the legend mode is open, where you can become master of the mountain and perform the ultimate show of boarding. I will sadly never see this mode.
The other challenges are ‘Top Score’ which is your overall score on a run down the mountain. ‘Media Points’ is where you have to do tricks in front of photogpers stationed in various spots around the map. Now the challenges start to get harder with the ‘Sponsors’. They will ask that you perform certain tricks that they like so they will give you a sponsorship. You have to keep them amped meter on full and it’s only done by performing their preferred tricks without anything else. For example one sponsor might like “big air” tricks where as another likes “rails”. ‘Pro’ is where you have to follow one of the pros down the mountain out performing them on tricks. The pro will ride first then you follow, only doing tricks in the same area as the pro. This mode is cool, but it can be challenging.
After all that, there is more to keep you busy. Of course like the first Amped there are the pesky snowmen! Simply put, these snowmen are all gathered around the mountain taunting to find them and it’s your objective to knock these sucka’s down! I wonder why the folks at Microsoft Game Studios have against cute little snowmen? Then there are two different mini-objectives added to the game, Gaps and Tricks. Gaps are completed by jumping over gaps that have an illuminated blue star path along the mountain side. They are hidden so you have to find them, overall it’s a nice touch to keep you busy, but isn’t as innovative as the snowmen. Then Tricks the last mini-objective is given to you when you perform unknown tricks. You wont know into you do them. They added this so the gamer would try and switch it up a while and not rely on the same ol’ trick over and over. The only way this mode can be completed is by going down the mountain several times performing different tricks until you find the right combination. More clues would have been nice, but again its just there to expand the life of the game.
Now that is a lot of challenges and things to do, well why it do? If not to be ranked #1 and gain some personal satisfaction. Besides the all the free swag in gear! The rewards for the challenges come in the form of new ability points to distribute over; Spin/Flip, Big Air, Ollie, Balance and Switch. You also get the same point structure to add to your personal board. This makes the impossible possible. So if you missed any challenges, try again with a better Ollie skill you might get the height to hit that ski lift rail you been heading for.
Overall there is so much to do that this game can keep you busy for a year. Now with the ability to play online (thank you XSN), you will have this game in your Xbox as much as any long winded RPG. Seven Mountains, Over a hundred challenges, and another hundred plus mini-challenges, I dare you to beat this game in week. Impossible!
The graphics are off the wall in Amped 2. Far superior to the first game, Amped 2 brings the mountain to life with more folia age, ascetic scenery with picture perfect textures. The character models have been improved as well. This time around they look better, have more style and have revamped their trick animations. The game never falters or slows the frame rate down even with eight boarders all going down the hill together. The don’t add to many things to make it over the top, they just give it a more realistic overhaul. Amped 2 is a beautiful game which could only be achieved using the Xbox’s architecture. If you have a HDTV you are in luck with Amped 2 because it does support 720p.
300+ Songs! Not really an innovation by the means of songs in a game, but this has to be the largest library in a game to date. Not to mention you can add another 300 via the Xbox hard drive. Great job with the music portion of the game, and having a favorite folder for your number one songs is a great touch.
Of course Amped 2 utilizes Dolby Digital 5.1 sounds which bring outs the game more in realism. Dolby can also help you when finding those damn snowmen! Back from Amped one is the negative comments when you fall or perform the same trick or poor tricks on the hill. I’m not really bothered by them insulting me, but other gamers can take it to hart and get offended by this option. It’s silly and strange, but it doesn’t help when you tried hard to pull of a trick and the camera guy tells you to do something new. Amped 2 excels in the graphics and sound department and proves itself better than its predecessor.
I haven’t mentioned the controls yet, because I left them for the innovation section. Since the original Amped the biggest grip is the control scheme and it goes to figure the added more to it. The control scheme in Amped 2 is innovated and fresh in its dynamic use of the Xbox control and the analog buttons and sticks. I’m not going to go in detail since there would be so much to cover, but the left control stick steers you character, the right control stick performs the grabs. The buttons are for Ollie’s, Rails, Lip Tricks and the kick tricks. The triggers control you stance and tweaks when you jump. The new additions to the control scheme from Amped is ‘buttering’ where you teeter back and forth on your board by shaking the left control stick up and down. The other addition is the Style meter which judges your smoothness with the controls. For me the style meter is the hardest to master, but it cranks up your points if you have it. This is controlled by the sensitivity that you use the controller. You have to tilt the control stick slowly and not jerk it, and the same with the triggers.
A smooth touch goes a long way in getting the most out of your tricks. So far the controls have been under the biggest scrutiny since the game came out, for me there are great and just take some adjusting to them.
Stomped It! This game is pure mojo from start to finish. Although difficult at times, Amped is the best representation of the extreme sport of snowboarding in a video game. They upped the auntie even more of what we expected from this title. Amped 2 is the game!
Amped 2 is the best all around realistic snow boarding experience you are going to get with a game. They have packed it full with hours upon hours of objectives to finish, and they added online play which makes this game have some serious longevity. The only reserve I find with this game is that the difficulty level is high and it takes practice to master. Although it is a very rewarding experience once you get past the learning curve. All of you who liked Amped, you will love Amped 2. And anyone who likes snow boarding or extreme sports games has to check out the joy of Amped 2.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 8, Mojo: 10. Final: 9