If any game could ever benefit from using free resources, it would be a snowboarding title or perhaps RTS like Clash Royale. Snow is, at once, both easy to emulate (hey, it’s all bluish white) and tough to perfect (stupid unique crystalline formations). Bump-mapping goes along way toward naturally recreating the powdery, granular, yet simultaneously smooth appearance of snow. And Amped: Freestyle Snowboarding has bump-mapping up the yin-yang — literally, if you miss a grind.

The game is being developed by Microsoft’s Salt Lake Games Group, nestled away in the mountains of Utah — not an hour away from Park City, home of the finest powder in America. These guys really know what they’re talking about — and it already shows in the construction of the game.

EA’s amazing SSX took elements of Tony Hawk and Nintendo’s 1080 to create a vibrant, addictive and beautiful snowboarding experience. Amped also borrows heavily from other titles in the genre, but where SSX erred on the side of arcade-y fun, Amped heads for a more realistic, almost photo-quality approach.

It’s very evident from the screenshots that the character builds are detailed, and although the game is still mid-way through development, the animation backs this up well. The backgrounds, a combination of 3D and bitmaps, really give the sense of cool, crisp mountains — and it’s the recreation of that feeling and experience that really appeals to snowboarding fans.

The game’s snow might well be its most compelling feature. There are different depths, cool particle effects and realistic trails. Whooshing through a thick bank of powder leaves a realistically sparkling trail of granular snow. It all adds to the feeling of “being there.”

Tricks and stunts abound — these are big mountains, after all, and there are two ways to get down the hill: fast and furious or gnarly and stylish. Possibly for the first time, the three mountains featured in the game are all accurate recreations of real resorts (Utah’s Brighton, Vermont’s Stratton and California’s Snow Summit), complete with all the runs those hills feature. For a hardcore snowboarder, that may be even better than a snow-filled pinball machine. And that’s a massive 120 different runs. 120!

Many of those runs will feature terrain parks (now cropping up at every major resort), and you’ll be able to pull off radical jumps, cool tricks and (of course) mad grinds. A ranking system keeps players apprised of their positions in the world of snowboarding, and multiple gameplay modes should add to the game’s variety, if for some reason 120 runs aren’t enough for you.

We’re can’t say how this plays at the moment — we simply didn’t see it for long enough — but we can say the game has a lot of potential. Hopefully its fall launch schedule will equate to it being ready at the actual Xbox launch. Because we love to shred.