I love to snowboard in real life, having first started back in 1989. Unfortunately, I took a few years off, but got back into the scene recently and have become enamored by everything snowboarding. So when I picked up my 360 I just had to try out Amped 3. Well how to describe it…

Amped 3 is at the front of the new next-gen pack. 2K Sports has remained true to their vision for Amped: creating a great snowboarding game for real snowboarders. This time out, Amped features a much better story mode with insane cinematic sequences that exhibit qualities ranging from great sense of humor to relatively psychotic. Amped 3 exhibits the most personality seen so far from a snowboarding game. And what’s better is that it manages to capture some true qualities of the social sphere surrounding the sport.

You start Amped 3 by creating a character and hit the slopes, using a very nice mountain map as your guide to individual challenges on the mountain. These challenges are basically of a few types: story challenges advance the overall storyline; media challenges get you respect points and cash for completing big trick challenges at specific locations; skill-based challenges are just like they sound and earn respect points.

The character customization is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. You can make your character buff, skinny, fat, bald, with a fro, blonde, brunette, white black… you name it. You can choose from popular gear that’s out there from Burton, iS, Ride and more. It really is a cool experience just creating your character.

Amped 3 revolves around earning enough cash and enough respect to advance the story. Your created character will become a major player in a five act drama. Throughout your adventures, you’ll travel from Northstar to Snowbird, and then to Valle Nevado, Avoriaz, Laax, and Zugspitze, among other hidden and back country locales. The international vibe of Amped 3 lends to a more dynamic story, and as with all of the previous installments of the series, each mountain is rendered with excellent detail and accuracy. If you’re familiar with any of the hills in the game, you will recognize them when you play.

Filling out the roles in Amped 3 is a cast of characters drawn from a variety of snowboarding types. Each character represents a unique style of snowboarding and can teach you their own particular variety of “awesomeness.” As you get to know each character, their individual stories unfold in a startling array of graphic styles and approaches. Some characters’ stories are animated in stylized Japanese style graphics, while others are done in crude sketches.

Different challenges bring in all kinds of other graphic styles, ranging from all types of old-school arcade graphics to disturbingly well-done surreal CG sequences. Some elements are even crudely stop-motion animated, and others feature live-action video. The overall effect is as if you drank a whole bottle of Robitussin and watched Adult Swim all night long. In fact, the ubiquitous “Adult Swim Theme” peppers the soundtrack of Amped 3, lending to the late-night animation feel of the game.

One of the nicest features is the music soundtrack in the game, there are dozens of tracks from a wide variety of independent musicians, which makes Amped one of the best places to discover new music.

Overall, Amped 3 delivers a solid yet somewhat surrealistic snowboarding experience. It’s definitely a fun game and is something that I’d reccomend, whether you’re a snowboarder or not.