The actual structure of Amped 2's main mode of play, the career mode, is good and is like that of the first game. There are a ton of venues and events to unlock, and there's next to no loading time when switching between them. The game's diverse soundtrack plays constantly in the background, so there's really no interruption, which is great. After you create your rider, by simply choosing a look and a name, you then head off and start doing your thing on the mountain. You may coast down the mountain of your choice in a leisurely fashion to just scope it out, and whenever you're ready and whenever you want, you can start tricking and racking up a high score. Separately, you'll also want to impress the media by tricking in particular places where you see a big, floating camera icon. Plenty of ramps and rails are around to facilitate your efforts, and there are a few other points of interest to look out for as well. Each mountain has a number of gaps to jump, particular trick challenges to pull off, and snowmen to run into. The snowmen are supposed to be funny, but they come off as pretty stupid. Located in remote areas of each mountain, you'll know when you're close to one of these guys from their incessant, high-pitched babbling. The developers must have thought this was funny. Some other people might, too.
Online play is the best thing about Amped 2.
As you accomplish goals on each mountain, you'll unlock photo shoot events, in which you need to ride or jump through a series of rings while performing tricks. You'll also unlock sponsor events, in which you need to go through a run while pulling off whatever type of trick that sponsor happens to fancy. You'll also get to race alongside some pro boarders and participate in some challenging events where you'll be trying to out-trick a number of other competitors on the way down a mountain. Overall, there's a lot to do in Amped 2's career mode, which rewards you primarily by unlocking tougher, new venues but also improving stats for your rider and presenting him or her with plenty of licensed clothing.
You may take your rider online, and that's where Amped 2 is probably at its most entertaining. The two main online modes are "just ride" and "session," and the difference is mainly that the latter mode offers more customization options, while the former is a pure high-score contest for up to eight players. It pretty much boils down to scoring either way. Our time spent racing online was completely lag free, and, as is the case with any Xbox Live-compatible game, it can be fun to banter with other players in the middle of a match. In particular, since this game isn't so much about direct competition (i.e., killing each other), players tend to have a slightly better attitude than in some other online games, and they may be willing to give you some pointers about how to hone your technique. Also, much like the competitive events of the career mode, it's basically just more fun to be gunning for other players' high scores than for arbitrary, abstract goals. Amped 2 also offers a split-screen multiplayer mode for two players, though unlike the recent Crimson Skies, you can't both go online. Amped 2 also supposedly offers compatibility with Microsoft's XSN Sports network, which allows you to form "packs" of boarders with other like-minded players. This functionality hasn't actually been implemented yet, though.
The original Amped, a first-generation Xbox title, showed off many of the system's proprietary graphical effects and came off looking great. Graphical standards have continued to increase rapidly since that time, and today, Amped 2 looks pretty good, at best. The game doesn't run smoothly, and many of the rider animations look stiff. The snow, which is heavily bump-mapped and sometimes sparkly, tends to look too flat and thick rather than powdery like the real thing. Trees look fine from afar but are horrendously pixelated up close. Amped 2 does sport an impressive draw distance, meaning you can see a great deal of the environment at any given time, and some nice ambient lighting is well used to create convincing day, afternoon, and night weather. If you don't look too carefully at the game, it'll give you the impression that you're actually out on the slopes.
It's not the most enjoyable alternative sports game out there, but it's the only one you can play online on the Xbox.
Like its predecessor, Amped 2 is noteworthy for including a downright incredible number of unheard-of songs, which stream continuously, one after another, as you play the game. You can add them to a favorites list or rip your own music if you prefer. Genres include everything from emo to reggae, with plenty of rap and rock in between. The variety and volume is certainly the best thing about this soundtrack, which spans literally hundreds of songs. The rest of the audio in Amped 2 is fine, but it's nothing remarkable, aside from the aforementioned tutorial instructor and the snowmen. The only other thing is that some of the speech you'll hear from people on the sidelines repeats too often for its own good, and sometimes they'll refer to female riders as "man," though maybe that's meant as a term of endearment.
Amped 2 is a predictable-enough sequel. It adds a couple of new control features to the original game, but it doesn't address the underlying flaws of the system. It adds a good online play component and gives you plenty of snow to shred. The game can primarily be recommended to fans of the previous title, though if you didn't play the first one and you like the idea of a snowboarding game you can play online, Amped 2 would suitably fit the bill.