Review by madDog67

Reviewed: 01/07/04

A Great Game...IF You Have the Patience

I'm going to say this up front...the learning curve on this game is steep, to put it bluntly. If you're willing to put the necessary time into it, you're going to be rewarded by a truly great game.

Graphics: 10/10
Simply put, this game looks great. The details in the backgrounds and in the boarders are really impressive. The first thing that strikes you is that the environments look real. I'm not a snowboarder, but I've been skiing before...and these mountains actually look like something you'd see in real life. I'm sure that some of these are actually real snowboarding tracks, but even if they're not, they certainly look like the real thing. The tracks are all different in look and feel from one another, and you will encounter daytime and nighttime tracks.

The boarders themselves are highly detailed, and there is a ton of different boards, boots, and other stuff to outfit your boarder with to give them the right look. All in all, you couldn’t ask for better graphics.

Sound: 9/10
The sound is great in this game, just like the first…great audio positioning makes tracking down those elusive snowmen really easy, especially if you have a good 5.1 system. Also, the other sounds, like grinds, trick landings, and especially the sound of your butt hitting the snow in an awkward position on your way to a fatal-in-real-life crash are all very well done. Did I mention you’ll crash a lot? I noticed a really cool wind sound on a jump I did last night…can’t remember which mountain, but I was really high up in the air…and I noticed some wind noise I’d never heard before. When I landed, it was gone…too cool.

Gameplay: 10/10
In addition to the career mode, where you’ll spend most of your time, there are a lot of other ways to play…free ride, split screen multiplayer, with a variety of options, system link, and online. I have yet to venture forth on line, but I have tried the split screen multiplayer. Now, I’m probably the only guy on the planet that like the multiplayer in the first one…I had no problem trading runs with my buddies, even if there were 3 of us. The ability to really watch the other guy, and scope out the run, was enjoyable. Unfortunately for me, that’s been replaced by the split screen view. I just don’t like split screen, even on my 55” TV. To compound the problem, there is no choice of views, that I can see…you’re stuck with vertical, and my choice in this game would be horizontal. I seem to be encountering this a lot lately…so my advice to developers is if you’re going to stick us with split screen, at least give us the option of vertical OR horizontal, one size does not fit all. If I were to take away half a point in this review, it would be for this.

As mentioned, the career mode is deep, with about a dozen venues, and at east 2 or 3 runs in each venue. There are media challenges, high point, snowmen, trick, pro, photoshoot, and gap challenges as well. Plenty of stuff to keep you busy, that’s for sure. Some of the photo and pro challenges can be quite difficult, and I’m sure there are some absurd point requirements later down the line. As you progress, you gain board stats to put towards spins, flips, etc, and you climb in the rankings towards that elusive number 1 spot.

The runs are all laid out pretty well, and as you play them more, you’ll see little touches of genius…like on the first run, where they’ve conveniently placed a nice jump up onto a cable car line at the top of the hill…so even a beginner can hit this, and rack up enough points to fulfill all the high score requirements…an immediate board stat pump up. Most runs are designed like this, you just have to spot the little sections that will make your life easier.

Control: 10/10*****
Okay, the five asterisks…it’s pronounced ASTER-RISK, not ASTER-RIX…are for the controls. Some new wrinkles in the control scheme from Amped 1 make this a game that will frustrate most gamers until they’ve a few hours playing with it. I dove right into the career mode, and since you start out with a boarder that can’t do much, I became VERY frustrated. My advice to people new to this game is to spend some time using the pro boarders to get the hang of it, THEN create a boarder and start your career.

What’s new in Amped 2 are the addition of style points, and moving the grind balance control to the left thumbstick, and grind tweaks to the triggers. I had really gotten good at balancing my boarder in Amped 1, so this took a while to get used to. Also new is the “butter”, or manual…used to link tricks together and score big points, once you get the hang of it. It’s also balanced with the left thumbstick. Grabs are now only done with the right thumbstick…so trying to do a tweaked, off axis trick with a couple of grabs will have your brain in a tailspin for a while. You will get the hang of it, but it’s gonna take time. Unless you are a super uber gaming god, this is not a game you can pick up and wail on.

Style points are obtained by slightly rotating the left thumbstick while spinning or flipping, and by using the triggers to tweak grinds. Of all the things added to Amped 2, trying to get style points consistently in spins/flips is the most difficult for me. You need to move the stick about halfway; if you do it right, the style meter will appear and being to fill up…leading to copious amounts of trick points, IF you can master it. It’s much easier to do this with pro boarders, so I would imagine all those stat points I’ve dumped into balance for my created player has it’s drawbacks. Once again, butters to link the tricks seem easier with the pro boarders, which seems to bear this out. To me, it’s much easier to tweak my grinds using the triggers, and you can really get good style points this way.

Once you get the controls down, and you’ve pumped up the stats of your boarder (or if using a pro) you’ll be able to wail down the slopes tricking like a fool, and racking up massive points. I’ve gotten it down well enough to be able to do 200,000 point runs…I know, it’s a far cry from the million + point runs people are apparently doing online, but I’m a mere mortal with average gaming skills. It probably won’t be easy, but then again, you will get a sense of accomplishment when you finally do nail it…and the game really becomes fun.

Overall: 10/10
If you’re willing to work at it…and I admit there will be people who don’t see the point…Amped 2 is a stellar game that shines in just about every area. It’s that fairly steep requirement that will turn some people off, and that’s a pity. It was a chore for me to get where I am, and I will freely admit to being a hair’s breadth away from smashing the controller on more than one occasion, so be forewarned. I might have found this game easier had I started playing it using a pro boarder, with much better stats than the noob I created, but I didn’t. The point is, though, that I’m very happy I stuck with it…Amped 2 has become one of my top 5 games of all time, and I’m just starting to scratch the surface in terms of gameplay. It has that elusive “just one more run” feature that will have you up way past your bed-time every night…and I’ve got the circles under my eyes to prove it.

Rating: 10

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