Reviewed by Jimmy | 01.05.06
What is the last thing you expected to see in a video game? How about your straight forward Microsoft introduced Amped? Well, 2K Sports and Indie Built have probably done and I know you're not ready for the bizarre world of Amped 3. It's a blender mix of visuals, snowboarding, self abuse which breathes new life into the Amped series. Check out the 360 madness of Amped 3.
If you have been reading up on Indie Builts Xbox 360 launch title Amped 3 then you already know this game is whacked. The visual presentation is by far one of the most creative, if not the most creative use of medium put into a video game. Amped 3 is incognito because on the surface it seems like a typical snowboarding game, which it is, but once you get rolling you'll realize this game is dope, or at least on dope. I won't go deep into the details because that would spoil the surprise, but I'll mention a few things you will see. Gnomes, Barbequed Babies, Multi headed Dragons, Snow Sharks, Ninjas, Cat girls, Hand puppets, Boy Bands. and maybe a snowboard thrown in. It doesn't make sense really, even after finishing the game I'm still puzzled, but at least I know I enjoyed the ride.
Amped vs. Amped
Now before I get to the actual gameplay, I want to note that I am a huge fan of the first two original Amped games on the Xbox, and Amped 3 was one of my most anticipated 360 titles. I know a lot of critics and gamers are taken back by the new direction, and honestly I can see why, but it doesn't mean I would change Amped 3. I think if we had the same old offering, the game would have been just as slagged and we would have expected more. Amped 3 through its story has ironically taken this Xbox game and done a 360, and I believe it was for the best. Amped 3 has given us more then just snowboarding, and has put a humorous coat of fun around the whole experience. A bold move and I salute the developer for taking a chance.
King of the Mountain
Beyond the craziness, Amped 3 does offer a solid snowboarding experience. The beauty of Amped 3 is that it still keeps up with most of the high demands from the original Amped series even though the game has been retooled. The first thing you will notice is that the interface is different, from how you control your boarder to how navigate through the game. Gone is the old style of listings of broken down challenges? It has been replaced with a free roaming style where you can go anywhere on the mountain and perform challenges. The reason this works is because the mountains are absolutely huge, and filled with challenges. Both previous Amped titles combined are about the size of one mountain in Amped 3. The mountains are absolutely breath taking to view and impressive in size. The variety of challenges are also larger then before, and like the story you will see something events you would never of dreamed of in the old Amped.
Amped 3 is broken into many different challenges, and the core ones remain the same from the old games. You still have your Media (Media Call Out), Pros (Lords of the Board), Rings (Magic Circles), Sponsor (Sellout), and High Score challenges (Snow Quest), plus some new interesting challenges like Impress the Hottie, Low-Rider, Kitty Cleanup, Samurai Slalom, Mobilize Challenge (on a snowmobile), and Sled Trauma. Out of the new challenges the biggest switch up if Sled Trauma, and Mobilize Challenge because the involve transportation that isn't a snowboard. Sled Trauma being the most interesting is basically an event where you ride to your death on an extremely unorthodox item. For example there is a Toilet, Coffin, Rocking Horse, and Mattress that you can ride on plus some other bizarre entries. I found this new addition sinfully addictive and fun, launching yourself off a cliff into a pile of rocks is strangely satisfying and it doesn't hurt that Indie Built uses havoc rag doll physics for your boarder.
Another cool aspect Amped 3 is "Awesomeness". Awesomeness works in two ways, first it's a design that will spotlight under your boarder when your trick meter is full. It also works as a challenge to impress people on the mountain. The Awesomeness help give more variety to the game to customize it just that much more. The theme goes from magic unicorns, to doodles, to sci-fi and along with the crazy designs comes whacked out sounds. I dug this feature and hope it says in for the next versions.
I'm not done yet... another bonus to Amped 3 is the "Park Builder". The Park Builder lets you build items anytime, anyplace, on any mountain. This is mainly used for helping yourself out if you can meet a challenge. Have a rail challenge? Add some more rails. Need some more height for those Aerial challenges? Build a bigger ramp. Although it does take some planning the system institutes perfectly into the game and is really simple to use. With the Park Builder, I would of liked a Build a Mountain feature in place where you can create the whole deal from scratch, then upload them for other people to enjoy. But I really can't complain because the Park Builder is cool and another unexpected surprise in Amped 3.
Amped 3 isn't without its hiccups; every game has their down side. Although all of my complaints are minor, I thought I go over a few. First you can no longer customize your rider's statistics! Sure, you can change around their clothing, hairstyles, and physical characteristics, but not your stats. You do gain the occasional stat bonus through the game, like a point towards your rail skill, but it doesn't play a huge part like in the original Amped games. My second complaint is that they replaced the hidden snowmen with gnomes. Now, I love Gnomes, but unfortunately the game doesn't reward you when you find them. I know with the snowmobile it's easier, but it would have been nice if that had some extra unlockables for the adventurous gnome hunters.
Lastly my final issue with Amped 3 is that there is no online mode besides Xbox Live leaderboard support. Amped 2 had a fun online multiplayer, so it really pulls the game down with no support. This fact could hold some people back from even looking into Amped 3 which is a shame. Honestly, this fact also holds the game back from Xbox 360 game of the year. I love my Amped, but it really needs all aspects covered including online multiplayer.
Amped 3 is off tilt in the graphic and audio departments blending all forms of media to create an interesting drug induced story. Indie Built really tapped all resources using bits in clay, hand puppets, dolls, 2D graphics, drawn line art, anime styled art, realistic home videos, plus more. They really showed a creative side that I haven't seen in this medium to date. Along with the creative storyline the normal graphics in Amped 3 are beautiful. The mountains are absolutely breathtaking and seem to flow for miles, there are some issues of clipping but it's to be expected giving the variation of surfaces.
Amped 3 also boasts a strong music soundtrack with over 300 independent bands. It's great to see 2K Sports keeping with the Amped tradition and giving support to the little bands around the globe. Most of the music is the new style of rock/emo, but the quality is just as good as anything on the radio. To finish up the audio the sound effects like the board cutting into the snow is excellent and the voice overs are spot on perfect. Even though Amped 3 doesn't seem to take it self seriously the graphic and audio team did. This is one of the best looking Xbox 360 games I've played and it's amazing to see the range of colour in Amped 3 busting out on HD.
Amped 3 has a new life under 2K Sports and Indie Built, and while they embraced the weird they also give us a solid snowboarding experience. The fun and challenging Amped series lives on with a new strange and beautiful side. Besides the missing online multiplayer Amped 3 is one of the launch bests titles for the Xbox 360. Don't pass this one up.
Gameplay: 9, Graphics/Sound: 9, Innovation: 9, Mojo: 10. Final: 9.5 / 10
Massive Mountains - Amped 3 features seven new resorts, up to three times larger than levels in Amped 1 & 2. Take on hundreds of challenges around the resorts, or pull out your sled and try to hang on for dear life. Explore the entire mountain on a snowmobile, get away from it all in the back country, or find the perfect spot and build your own obstacles, rails, and jumps.
Snowbox - The resorts are loaded with hundreds of challenges; beat them and earn upgrades, new stuff, or Coin you can use to buy a ton of swag. And these challenges aren't just about your skills on a snowboard...there's snowmobiling, sledding, and more. All your top scored runs, hang-times and crashes are automatically posted for all to see on LiveT...see how you measure up against the rest of the planet and go grab the top spot.
Park Builder - Anywhere, anytime, you can plant your own jumps and rails to create a personal terrain park, add things to trick off to get better High Scores, or just make a difficult challenge a little easier. You can even create your own sessioning area. And you earn newer and crazier objects to plant as you play the game.
Sled Slaughter - Hop on a sled and just try to hang on! The longer you can ride, the greater the destruction and carnage...and the bigger your medical bill (aka high score). Or, if you want to teach your buddy a lesson, tie your sleds together and see who do more damage to themselves. Good times!
Snow Tracks - Over 300 new indie music tracks... again Amped 3 offers up more fresh tracks than another game ever made.