Microsoft’s Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding was one of the first games out of the gate for the Xbox two years ago, and the first real competition for the SSX series. It met with mixed reviews, mainly because of the steep learning curve and awkward control scheme, but gamers who toughed it out were treated to a fun, if not overly-realistic, snowboarding game that more than held its own against the original SSX. Now, two years later, and facing stiff competition with SSX3 and 1080 Avalanche, Microsoft returns with Amped 2, and fans of the first game will definitely not be disappointed.For better or worse, the basic gameplay here is still the same. The left analog stick handles the brunt of the control – it moves your boarder and controls your spins while in the air. Holding down the A button accelerates your boarder, while releasing it will make him jump. B and Y are used for grinding and lip tricks, respectively. The L and R triggers are for tweaking your tricks. The main difference between Amped and SSX, and the one thing that most gamers have trouble getting past, is the fact that the right analog stick is used for grab tricks. This means you’ll constantly have to move your thumb from the face buttons to the stick, which never feels completely natural, even after extended play. Fortunately, there’s a lengthy tutorial mode to help ease new players into the game.
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