The obvious benefit of Xbox Live is that it brings gamers together. Next door neighbors, friends from other countries, and complete strangers can hop online and play co-operatively or competitively in numerous Live games. There are other benefits, including online scoreboards and tournaments. That's all good and dandy, but to me, one of the coolest and, for some reason unsung, bonuses of Xbox Live is all of the lovely downloadable content.
Think about it, before Xbox Live, how often did you get new content for games months after you bought them? While the PC world enjoys mods and expansion packs, us console geeks have only had the joys of what comes in the box on shipment day. We at IGN Xbox understand the value of good downloadable content and as we progress under the new administration it's our goal to help you decide if the latest downloadables are worth sacrificing your valuable hard drive space (you know, those 50,000+ blocks).
Yesterday, Microsoft released new downloadable content for Amped 2. To download, all you need is a copy of Amped 2, an Xbox Live account, and 985 free blocks on your hard drive. The Slopestyle download offers up a brand new mountain with three courses: Pioneer, 2003 Slopestyle, and Downhill Course. Slopestyle can be played in Free Ride offline or in any of the online game modes, but it is not incorporated into the Career mode, so there are no playable challenges associated with it. So, really, it's a mountain meant for online competition with a lot less value as a single-player experience.
I'll admit, it's been a while since I played Amped 2, but the minute my board touched the powder, I was right back at home, doing tricks I hadn't done in two months. It took me no time at all to faceplant into a pole. Yes, my form remained true. I took a few practice runs through Millicent and Mt. Hood to make certain I could stick at least a few cool tricks and headed to the new mountain.
Slopestyle is a good bargain for being free, but after an hour of testing out the mountain, it feels a little weaker than the originals included out of the box. That's not to say it's bad, but Slopestyle doesn't have much personality. Amped 2 did a good job of having some pretty distinguishable mountains, but Slopestyle doesn't have any really cool bits of architecture, no interesting shape, and not as much grinding variety as I like. The only nifty thing are the houses on the far left of the mountain, which are mostly out of bounds, though you can try and use the sloped roofs as a launching pad.
Pioneer Course starts at the top of the mountain and offers an instant split of going either left or right. Left eventually takes you to the Downhill Course and right will get you to 2003 Slopestyle in relatively short order. This isn't a particularly wide mountain, but it has a decent length if you start form Pioneer Course. It's a bit too short for my tastes off the Downhill Course. It's nice to have loads of easy-to-reach photo opps, and there are plenty of spots to get your trick on (plus some helpful lift line wires for maximum grind scores) and I do like having a chance to learn some new lines on an unfamiliar mountain. It's pretty easy (if you have decent skills) to get some extended air and grind combos thanks to numerous bunny hops and their nearby rails. You can get some big scores here off of numerous tricks rather than relying on one giant trick to see you through.
Slopestyle's not a bad little mountain, it's just not as dynamic, interesting, or challenging as some of the others. If this had been included with Amped 2 when it shipped, it would likely be the first mountain you'd have to tackle in Career mode. What's best about Slopestyle is that it's something new for a game that, for many people, has begun to gather a little dust on the shelf. While it's not as solid a mountain as I'd like, it sure beats having nothing to download. If you are still playing Amped 2 online, then you've probably already downloaded this sucker. If you want to spend a few nights reliving the game you loved over the holidays, this makes for a nice download, but if you don't want to play competitively, Slopestyle doesn't offer enough to make it worthwhile to the solo-player. Stop playing with yourself!
Check out a few new movies of Slopestyle in action and enjoy me crashing and burning. Just make with the clickety-clack on the link below.
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