Review: Amped 2 (XB)

Amped 2
Genre: Extreme Sports – Snowboarding
Platform: Xbox
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios

The original Amped was an Xbox launch title back in November of 2001. Snowboarding fans looking for a more realistic alternative to EA’s SSX series finally had an option with the debut of the new snowboarding franchise. With the launch of Xbox Live, Amped fans were looking to take their snowboarding online, and with Amped 2 and XSN Sports they’re finally able to do just that.

Story
Amped 2 doesn’t feature a specific story, but rather you create your own boarder and give them publicity by performing for the media and entering competitions. Each mountain has several different areas to board, and from there you try to complete high scores, find gaps, and knock over hidden snowman to “Own The Mountain” — a new feature in Amped 2.

Along with scoring, you can build your rankings by competing in photo shoots and trying out for sponsors. Each sponsor has specific likes and dislikes, which will test all of your skills at certain points. For example, one sponsor may love flips and hate rail tricks. Even if you do an incredible rail trick, the sponsor may still get bored and you’ll fail the objective. Photo shoot mode gives you a more specific objective, requiring you to board through a set of rings and reach a certain score without falling. Each mountain typically has three sponsor and three photo shoot challenges. Complete these and your boarder ranking goes up, and you are able to unlock more skill points to assign to your boarder.

Overall, the single-player career mode is a very solid effort and also feature continuity on Xbox Live. The points and ability you accumulate with your career boarder is the same that you’ll take with you when you play online. The better your boarder, the more equal the competition when you play online. Definitely a motivating effort to give the career mode a try.
Rating: 7.0

Graphics
The graphics in one word: beautiful. As has been the common trend for all Xbox-exclusive games, Amped 2 features absolutely incredible visuals that can definitely catch you staring for long periods of time. The mountains are rendered perfectly, and the boarders are very proportional, crisp, and lifelike. Simply put, it is incredibly difficult to fault anything in the graphical department, as it is absolutely above the competition.
Rating: 10.0

Sound
While the graphics are unbelievable, the sound isn’t quite as spectacular. Amped 2 features a variety of alt-rock tracks from mostly unknown artists, which seem to provide a mellow sound as you’re riding down the mountain. The custom soundtrack feature is also available if you’d rather put your own music into action. Where the sound really falls behind are the voices. The sponsor challenges feature weak, irritating voices that either cheer or jeer your snowboarding moves. With such a solid effort in every other department, why they couldn’t have added some real voices to the game is somewhat strange. Possibly just nit-picking at a minor detail, but something that possibly could’ve added even more polish to the game.
Rating: 6.5

Control
Although it takes some getting used to, the Amped controls are very fitting for a snowboarding game. Those familiar with the original Amped will have no problem, as they’ve stayed virtually the same from the original version. Spin moves are used with the left analog stick, while grabs are used with the right analog. For once, the Xbox controller actually is being used to its advantages, as the control setup would be extremely difficult on a Playstation 2 or Gamecube controller, the Amped controls feel right at home on the Xbox.

An added feature to the controls this year is a “snowskate” mode, which gives you more freedom with the board by pressing the “X” button on certain mountains. Timing is crucial, as it is possible to completely lose the board if you wipe out. Early mountains don’t have this option, and with good reason as beginning boarders may have a hard time picking up with the concept. Experienced Amped fans will like the extra challenge, as it gives the sequel a little something extra.

Overall, the controls are challenging for beginners, yet addicting to master. Multiple button/analog combinations will give you numerous options to try and master all the moves and constantly improve as a virtual snowboarder.
Rating: 8.0

Replayability
As mentioned earlier, the career mode and Xbox Live go hand-in-hand to keep you using both modes. The only boarder you can take online is your created career boarder, so simply mastering a pro is not an option. The constant challenge of improving your boarder in career mode helps you online, and Amped 2 is also one of the titles available on XSN. With the XSN mode, tournaments and stats are tracked as well as an option to create “packs” to snowboard with your friends (or enemies) online. Amped 2 definitely has the depth if you have the time and Xbox Live.
Rating: 9.0

Balance
If you don’t have Xbox Live, Amped 2 may possibly run out of gas once you’ve completed a large portion of career mode, possibly making the game a bit one dimensional. Xbox is heavily pushing its Xbox Live version, and for good reason, but if you’re simply not into the online play, the balance may not be quite to your liking. No problems for the Xbox Live gamers as I’ve already mentioned several times the Career Mode and Xbox Live go together like”¦(insert your favorite cliché here!)
Rating: 7.5

Originality
It’s a sequel, so originality isn’t the biggest selling point of the game. The franchise as a whole is still very original, as Amped 2 is the best sim-style snowboaring game on the market today. Others may enjoy the SSX franchise and its wild, sometimes unrealistic moves, but for those who like the challenge, the Amped franchise as a whole is in a league of it’s own.
Rating: 7.0

Addictiveness
Again, it all goes to what type of snowboarding game you prefer. Personally, I enjoyed Amped 2 much more than SSX 3, as I found the challenge of mastering the controls and mountains a lot of fun. If you like a challenge and more realism, Amped 2 is your kind of snowboarding game.
Rating: 8.5

Appeal Factor
The Tony Hawk franchise revolutionized the extreme sports market, and with it came a whole load of clones. Amped 2 isn’t a clone, but rather an entertaining option for snowboarding fans, and even those who have never watched or seen a snowboarding event, but like boarding games in general can really enjoy this game. Like all sports games, Amped has it’s market, and has major appeal to boarding game fans.
Rating: 7.0

Ratings Summary

Story: 7.0
Graphics: 10.0
Sound: 6.5
Control: 8.0
Replayability: 9.0
Balance: 7.5
Originality: 7.0
Addictiveness: 8.5
Appeal Factor: 7.0

Average: 7.83