In fact, there really is a lot of game, with seven resorts, each comprised of multiple runs, and each of these containing a dozen or so of the above challenges, plus media callouts – an evolution of Amped 2’s photo-shoot runs where you may be expected to perform a given stunt for waiting cameras. We’re talking days or weeks of gameplay, not hours. If you play in long stints you may note that the tasks are fairly repetitive, but then that fits in with the overall style. It’s not a game you play exhaustively, complete and put aside – it’s one you kick into, relax, get lost for a few hours and then come back to a few days later.
To put it another way, it’s not the hot affair that burns out in a weekend, it’s the mate you chill out with on a quiet weekend. Even the music is built to last – SSX On Tour had the high-profile artists, but after hours on that and Burnout Revenge I was getting tired of the acts on EA’s roster. Amped 3, by contrast, has a soundtrack brimming with US indie no-hopers, yet some of the 300 tracks are growing on me and I’m still hearing things I haven’t heard before. And here’s another indicator of how happy I am to waste time in this game: it’s the first non-RPG I’ve played in ages where I’ve actually spent time customizing my character, adding hats and jackets with a touch of pride, then taking the new look for a spin on the slopes. Really – what more can I say?
Nothing, except to touch on one criticism that Amped 3 keeps attracting: that it doesn’t do enough to show off the capabilities of Microsoft’s new console. Well, the critics have a point. Visually speaking, Amped 3 isn’t a vast, next-generation improvement on Amped 2 – it’s main enhancements come in its gorgeous high-definition clarity, and some lovely textures on the snow, rocks and riders (particularly in the clothes). All the same, the draw distance is incredible, the sense of one immense environment is superb, and the slopes are extremely busy; they’re packed with skiers and boarders, making their own way downhill, shooting the breeze, or preparing to scream at you as you barrel through their ranks.
So, if you want gobs smacked go for Call of Duty 2 or Project Gotham 3, but Amped 3 remains a lovely looking, thoroughly enjoyable snowboarding game. It might not please everyone, but if you click with its oddball attitude, it will keep you coming back long after supposedly better games have made their way to the cupboard or second-hand shop.
The loose structure, gonzo humour and less-demanding gameplay might not endear Amped 3 to everyone, but if you click it’s a friendship built to last.