Take to the slopes with Microsoft's entry into the digital downhill craze.
With the snowboarding game craze at a fever pitch with SSX, it was inevitable that Microsoft jump in with both feet. Microsoft tackles the "extreme" sports craze with reckless abandon as it readies Amped: Freestyle Boarding for a Holiday 2001 release.
Realism is the theme of Amped, and unlike other snowboarding games, this title will feature full mountains instead of single courses. You will be able to start at the top of a mountain, and choose your course as you go downhill. Through hidden areas there will be the possibility to switch courses. Since these are real locations, expect to see other skiers and boarders on the slopes as well.
States from Vermont to California will be represented in the variety of courses this game will offer. In all, over 100 different runs will be available on real mountains.
The game also promises realistic physics, with more faceplants than you can shake a ski pole at. If you miss your mark while trying to perform a stunt, be prepared to eat snow.
While realism is strived for in physics and locale rendering, gameplay is of course going to be the emphasis. You can't have a snowboarding game without the old "go-down-the-mountain-really-fast" style of gameplay, but the replay value of this title will be in the number of tricks you perform to raise your star status on the slopes.
The overall goal is to get enough coverage and become an international superstar. Of course with all this attention, other people will be trying to dethrone you from your rightful place on the cover of magazines.
Spectators, photographers, cameramen, skiers, other boarders, and more will be liberally strewn throughout the courses. You want to get the attention of the lens by showing off, but if you miss your trick, it's back to the lodge for hot cocoa.
The question remains, will this be the next big leap in digital downhill entertainment? While the visual prowess of Xbox can't be denied, what people really want to know is how enjoyable the game is to play.
People forgave the quirks of SSX because it was one of the most enjoyable games from the PS2 launch (if not the most enjoyable). Will lightning strike twice for snowboarding games? Click here [http://www.microsoft.com/games/gamestock/videos/amped.avi] for a video of the game in action and judge for yourself.
Daniel "monk" Pelfrey
Would love to stay and chat, but can't.