Amped 3 Reader Review
Philosophers and aristocrats alike have spent hundreds of years arguing over the connotations of the concept of eccentricity. It has been a metaphorical game of Cowboys and Indians, with everyone from Jimmy the Cobbler to the Monarchy, and ultimately the ruling Laws of the Land attempting to pitch there case. And yet.. we still have not really come any closer to understanding what it really is, and perhaps worse to embracing its existence.
Some people are of the view that eccentricity is simply insanity. In Medieval England for example, along with Witches, eccentric individuals;- "the crazed" to the community of the time, were regularly subjugated for there offbeat ways. More recently concept films like 'Ghost In The Shell' and 'The Matrix Trilogy' have been criticised, and in some quarters universally condemned, for "saying lots but meaning little." Are the critics abhorring these films for being esoteric, or are they simply misunderstanding their intentions?
When you look at the mass of opinion, that some would argue, overwhelms the intention of something like The Mental Health Act, you start to get an impression of just how bizarre the situation really is. A member of the public, whose interview with a leading News Channel on the subject, I happened to catch recently, sidetracked into saying: "I hate the way eccentric people always feel the need to rub off there craziness on others". The middle-aged gentleman in question was perhaps being slightly over-zealous with his forthrightness. He was wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles T-shirt when interviewed.
It is without any great surprise then that there are those members of society who perhaps outnumber those referred to above, and 'appreciate' eccentricity.
Every Mum's favourite Afternoon host Julian Clary (no, not Phillip Schofield) himself declared that "the English love eccentrics, unless one is living next door." But do we?..
Countless sketches and scripts have circled around the subject, and many have defined it as its ultimate cause, and played off it for series after series. One could cite series such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S, Seinfeld and on British shores; Eastenders, as all focusing on the eccentricities of there main characters.
With an issue as opinionated as this, it is clear that the topic invokes conflicting views. It is a 'Marmite' subject, you either absolutely love and revel in an eccentric individual's prescence, or you shy away from them; scorning upon there existence like that of a bastard child.
It isn't therefore any surprise that a game that portrays its storytelling and mechanics like Amped 3, upon first glance at least, appears to be slightly idiosyncratic and ultimately.... eccentric.
A troubled existence?
The first thing that hits you about Amped 3 is the colour. Vibrant is perhaps somewhat of an understatement when describing the first screen's explosion of hue, and this ethos continues forthright with pace throughout the rest of the game. The visuals certainly appear to make proper use of both HDTV's, and in earnest, the XBOX 360's hardware capabilities.
It is this which compliments the artstyle; one of the most defining and unique features of this game. The team at Havok (you will get to know there faces very well by the end of the game!) have chosen to bear a great emphasis on this issue, and in a year when Okami lurks on the horizon, this could be the sign of things to come.
This artstyle arguably leads to a degree of disparity however. The transition between levels introduces the player to a series of extremely bizarre cutscenes. If you have ever had a hankering to see a game's design team in comprising dress, Amped 3 will not leave you disappointed. Stonefaced gamers will not appreciate this, but the rest of us will at least raise a smile at the increasingly wacky delivery of the game.
Similarly to the movies mentioned earlier, Amped 3 has an on-the-face-of-it type storyline. It is in no way as precise or intricate as The Matrix, for example, but that would be to the detriment of the game's intentions. The story basically revolves around a gang of superfluous 'cool dudes' (and dudette) and there zany quest for snowboarding grandeur.
Your voyage is ultimately represented by a centralised 'mission' group of tasks, similar to those found in the GTA series. Of these tasks you can ascertain olympic style gold, silver or bronze, based upon success. There are many hundreds of these tasks, but only the mission branches of which need to be attended to for total story completition, the rest of them (and Oh Boy do I mean the rest of them), are merely there to achieve the games crowning achievements, of overall completition of every task.
To me, it appears a foolish way (but perhaps a cost efficient one) to create the number of missions before contemplating the content of them. This leads to the total quantity of the tasks comprising of no more than 7 or 8 tasks, ranging from genuinely exciting tasks; such as entertaining the idea of earning points for inflicting maximum damage inflicted to your character (When becoming detatched from their vehicle the game awards extra points for the player agonisingly landing on huge boulders), to thankless 'Magic Circles' tasks, which require you to follow a set route whilst reaching a designated points total. Some of which towards the end of the game, are seemingly nigh on impossible.
Havok certainly never comprehended a difficulty curve when producing Amped 3. Thankfully, it is quite undemanding for even the most inexperienced gamer to gain a handle on the game, it just means there is a lot of to-and-froing between gameworlds.
A glimpse at the Live Leaderboards for these tasks will tell you that all is not impossible however (the Xbox elite will absolutely love Amped 3), but you will not be able to glimpse much further than that, for the game has no cohesive live action. In fact, the game's only multiplayer activities can be found in a handful of co-operative mini-tasks, sprinkled throughout the game world. The quality of these are good, but considering the rather butch quantity found elsewhere in the game, it is bizarre that more wasn't offered on the multiplayer front.
Custimisation is another topic that the game aspires to realise. The excellent 'builder mode' can make that excruciatingly bothersome task somewhat more approachable, as it instantly updates the live gaming environment. An extremely intuitive idea, and frankly, one of the game's best. Another refreshing addition is the way the player is kept free of cumbersome statlists. The game manually updates career progression through the 'respect' meter. The quantity at which this stands ultimately governing which mini-tasks you can attempt, many tasks staying locked until you attain a set level, preventing an untimely blitz for completion.
The camera angles are also very good. The games isometric 'from-the-shoulders-of-giants' type viewpoint suits the speeding, downhill, vibe of the game, the only exception to this being when you fall from your board. This can sometimes lead to difficulty restarting, when occassionally dismounting in the more arid areas in the game.
Furthermore, the game's musical catalogue features over 300 exciting and vibrant music tracks, which range from rap, to hip-hop, to rock, to punk. Following down the path of custimisation, these are all easily alterable from the game menu. So if you aren't a big fan of 'de wap', at a flick of a switch, it will no longer be a burden on your ears.
Which brings us to my overall concensus on the game, and this is undeniably garnered by its unique style. Amped 3 may be a 'bit too MTV' in places, but the game amasses many more smiles than frowns. In an era where gaming is becoming more and more predictable, the craziness Amped 3 brings to the table is unambiguously welcomed. Only the most inexorable of gamers will not enjoy the vast majority of Amped 3. Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness, of this Amped 3 plays testimony.
8 / 10