Amped 3 - Xbox360
With the snowboarding scene back in action, Microsoft is hoping that those unable to get out to the slopes will be happy to stay-in with their Xbox360, but should they?
Like other snowboarding games before it, Amped 3 takes on a rather warped interface of line drawings, home video footage, MTV inspired culture and weird-out psychedelic colours and characters. It all serves to get you into the spirit of things and just like those extreme boarding videos found on the Extreme Sports channel it kinda works.
As for the gameplay, this is based around a freeform approach. Six mountains offer the courses and slopes to master and you progress through them by completing certain tasks or gaining enough respect points (these are earned by doing tricks in front of other boarders on the slope).
Mountains are tackled one at a time, however because of that freeform approach you can select any available lift point and start from there. On the way down there are a series of challenges to complete and a rough storyline to follow to give the game some focus.
Challenges come in all shapes and sizes and require you to score a certain amount of points doing a range of different things like inflicting the most amount of damage or performing the best jump for the cameras. They serve as a nice break to the freeform stuff and obviously help move the game along so you can get to the next mountain or slope set.
Like Grand Theft Auto though, you can chose to shun these extra tasks (or missions) and simply spend the afternoon doing rail slides and flips to your heart's content hoping to earn respect from your fellow boarders.
The tricks come relatively easy, although the points system does seem to be skewed to rail slides rather than aerials, and you do get the feeling that a little bit more practice and there is a whole raft of combos waiting to be discovered.
We especially like the Style trick, which requires you to perform tricks slowly with style rather than seeing how many joystick wiggles and button presses you can do in the space of 3 seconds.
Rather than restrict you to just a snowboard, you can race down the slope on one of those inflatable hot dogs sleds that you normally see on a Caribbean beach. It is impossible to steer, but fun for 5 minutes. Alternatively you can go back up the mountain at any point with a snowmobile that's always at your disposal and this is useful for going back to a jump or even accessing higher parts of the mountain you haven't unlocked yet.
As you would expect with the next generation of games console, the graphics are good. Not as perhaps good as they could have been though.
Like grass, the computer industry has always had a tough job replicating snow and while developers, 2K, have done better than most previous attempts, it is still not quite there yet in terms of realism. Where the developers have done well however is the character detail and the vistas from the top of the slopes.
With the usual accompanying punk, dance soundtrack Amped 3 on the Xbox360 has plenty going for it. We like the freeform action and the mini missions that aren't all the same. However a lack of real Xbox Live play means this is still an isolated gaming experience.
If you can't get to the slopes this season and have got a shiny new Xbox360, this is one to consider.