Continuing Chit Hot’s celebration of the Xbox 360’s 18th anniversary, today we’re looking at Amped 3. While at the time it seemed like an exciting new opportunity for 2K Games’ unique snowboarding adventure series, it was sadly the final nail in the coffin. That’s despite the game being reasonably well received, and definitely the most colorful of the Xbox 360 day one releases.

The Xbox 360 launch line-up was one defined by its’ sequels. Out of the four Microsoft Game Studios releases, only one game was borne of original conception: Kameo: Elements of Power. This is reflected also with the systems’ third-party support, with the only other original titles being GUN and Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie – both little more than ports from the Xbox 360’s precursor generation – and SEGA’s Condemned: Criminal Origins.

That’s not to say that Amped 3 is devoid of value purely because of it’s heritage. It’s quite demoralising to realise that along with the birth of a new era of gaming, we had little new gaming experiences to go alongside. It’s almost as if developers had already begun struggling with the technology before they’d even got the opportunity to think about what they could do with it, as opposed to what they can do with it. Of course, games typically grow in originality and variety as a generation goes on. The Xbox 360 was no different.

Amped 3 screenshot

Get Amped on the Mountainside

Amped 3 is as basic, yet varied, as a snowboarding title has ever wished to be. Following in the footsteps of the title most critically acclaimed for its snowboarding style – Nintendo’s 1080 Snowboarding on the Nintendo 64 – Amped 3 makes a play for the arcade-inspired artificiality of control whilst dragging the player through event-after-event and a small selection of additional vehicles on offer. The gameplay selection begins with the player choosing an event from the map. This map is well presented, displaying the entire of the mountain which the player has scaled for these events. Divided into areas, each can be unlocked through progression elsewhere on the same mountain.

In order to progress, whilst boarding down the mountain you will find events dotted about in which you must compete for either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Medal. Each awards a varying amount of cash and ‘respect’, the latter of which is needed to further unlock story events. The events can be highlighted by selecting them from the map, but the player must always start at the peak of the area on the mountain containing them, then boarding towards the selected challenge.

The events range from drifting between pre-set doors, to out-boarding a pro, to impressing sponsors and generally selling-out. There’s plenty of variety and with each event set on the same mountain, each has its own area of play. With its own obstacles and intrusions, creating an entirely different challenge for identical events on a different mountain.

Amped 3 screenshot

Amped 2, but ‘Whacky’

Amped 3 should be acclaimed for it’s sense of longevity. However, some challenges seem to defy any logical sense of a progression for a difficulty curve. Once a certain level of play has been achieved, the difficulty level ramps up dramatically. If nothing else, giving you the opportunity to round-up those last few challenges on earlier levels.

In addition to the regular events, the title features a story of seemingly grand proportions. Despite this, it quickly becomes one of the objectives lower down on your list. While riding down any mountain, whether looking for events or just for kicks, pulling-off large combos will fill an Awesomeness Meter, entering a challenge in which you must impress bystanders with your skill. There is a predetermined amount of spectators which you must impress in each area of each mountain. Fulfilling the requirement is treated much like another event, and is more of the more interesting opportunities.

The rider customisation feature offers a vast array of freaks, although each may discover their own unique glitches during cutscenes. The draw distance featured in the game very pleasing, but there’s a distinct lack of detail on many objects. Even in 2005, it seemed developers hadn’t yet discovered how to make snow trails look realistic. The soundtrack is pleasingly fresh. Yes, it still revolves around punk/rock, but little more could be expected given the ‘whacky’ thematic.

Amped 3 screenshot

Unadventurous Fun

Amped 3 may seem a tad less technical than many of its launch peers, but it nevertheless feels more complete. With an individual look and a story that is ‘interesting’, Amped 3 carves its niche. With multiple mountains, each containing loads of events and a variety of modes of transport, Amped 3 just looks desperate to shake off that 1080 Snowboarding mould in the same way as 1080 Avalanche, although whilst retaining the arcade-esque feel of the series. The variety of the challenges on offer and their sheer quantity is the title’s biggest attraction, and possibly it’s rather abstract presentation. Mostly however, it’s that the game is simply fun.

Categories: Games