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Amped 3 Review

Developer: Indie Built Publisher: 2K Sports
Release Date: November 16, 2005 Also On: None

Amped 3 is my favorite video game that features unicorns, action figures being set on fire, Russians, and shiny kitty litter. There aren’t any other games featuring enough of this stuff, I must say. But Amped 3 features more kitty litter than you’d ever believe, and it’s got some great snowboarding gameplay to boot. Amped 3 is one of the better Xbox 360 launch lineup titles, and it’s the only one that’s going to have you laughing and scratching your head in confusion within the same gaming session.

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I doubted Indie Built could pull off a great game here. Amped 2, which was generally considered too difficult and too technical, bombed on the sales charts and it came as a surprise to me that anyone wanted to pick up XSN’s snowboarding franchise. Well, Indie Built did it, and they did one heck of a job making an enjoyable game. What makes Amped 3 so unique is, well, everything that isn’t related to the fantastic gameplay itself. You wouldn’t think too much of the game from looking at its bright green box art which features a snowboarder and the prominent, bold, and pink Amped 3 logo.

Once you crack open that box and pop the game into your Xbox 360, you’ll be thinking differently. Some of the stuff you’ll see in this game is more bizarre than anything you’ll ever see again. I mentioned unicorns and kitty litter earlier, but those are just two of the seemingly endless items of wonder that are tossed around in this trippy game. I’d like tell you more about the stereotypical anime cutscenes, the cut-and-paste art, or the sock puppets. But I can’t. I can’t tie any of these things to the Story Mode, and it would be a travesty for me to ruin any of the stuff in this game. It would ruin the “What the heck?” feeling that I was so happy to have while playing Amped 3.

The Story Mode is where most of your time will be spent. There are hundreds of challenges. Some are extremely generic to the genre–score points, go through checkpoints (which in this case are acid-influenced magic circles), or do a trick to impress a sponsor. These goals are the ones I didn’t like, and they were the ones that I got really tired of when I was finishing up with the story mode. I especially hated the kitty litter challenges, because I hate picking up random, scattered, unimportant items in games like this. The ones I enjoyed kept me playing, though, especially the crash-your-sled one. The goal here is to launch your player off of his sled and physically harm him as much as possible. Needless to say, this is endlessly entertaining and constantly funny. It’s even funnier when you’re not riding on a sled, because sometimes you’ll barrell downhill on a chair or a portable toilet or other objects. This is what I wanted to see from such a unique, artistic game–fun, creative modes. Sadly, the generic goals don’t do the game any justice, but Amped 3 is a lot of fun to play and that’s what allowed me to trudge through the ho-hum junk and reach the exciting stuff.

Indie Built made Amped 3 easier to play (which is something XSN failed to do with Amped 2) and they did so by making the controls very similar to Neversoft’s Tony Hawk series. All of the tricks are mapped to the controller’s face buttons and grinds are made easier with an auto-snap system that aligns the player with rails. These two factors alone make playing Amped 3 simple and fun while the difficulty comes from the challenges themselves, not the controls. This alone makes the game much better than Amped 2.

While the art is fantastic and the presentation is impressive, the visuals of Amped 3 are its most disappointing factor. Launch titles are expected to show off the power of a new console, not show any kind of shortcomings. Amped 3 doesn’t really impress me visually. If you told me this was an Xbox game and I didn’t know what you were playing, I wouldn’t think twice about it from looking at the graphics. It certainly doesn’t look bad–little touches like powdery snow effects look really nice. It’s just that this game’s visual caliber is very low when it’s compared to 360 beauties like Perfect Dark Zero, NBA 2K6, and Madden 06. The audio factor is quite different, there are hundreds of songs, dozens of artists, and hilarious voice acting to boot. If you’re a fan of indie rock, electronica, and hip hop, you’ll love the tunes found here. Since the original Amped, I’ve appreciated the fact that the series has featured so many low-key, unsigned bands.

The Xbox Live factor here is pretty disappointing. There isn’t any online multiplayer at all, and the most interaction you’ll have with other players is through the Leaderboards, which hold records for every single challenge found in the game. I thought it was fun to see how I sized up against other players but I would have loved to actually hit the slopes with someone else. Maybe they’ll do it with Amped 4.

Mentioning Amped 4, I’d love to see Indie Built go for another round. Amped 3 is a fantastic game. It offers fun snowboarding gameplay, an art style that will blow your mind, and a story that will bust your gut in laughter. You don’t have to sift through a lot of junk here–there are some annoying challenges, the graphics are ho-hum, and the lack of Xbox Live multiplayer is certainly a let-down. Other than that, I can’t complain. Check this game out, it’s great. If nothing else, you’ll want to get that “What the heck?” feeling I mentioned before.

Graphics: 5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.3
Written by Cliff Review Guide