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There’s nothing quite as jarring as not understanding how to play a game. How to just begin, even. Mashing buttons aimlessly is a short stop away from giving up altogether, and if you remain clueless as to what to do after the instructions have been digested and practice runs attempted, there’s a fundamental flaw in play. In Winter Sports 2: The Next Challenge, almost every game begins in exactly this way.
Without the safety net of sport familiarity, Winter Sports 2009 needs to clearly explain each event’s rules and controls. But while 49Games’ previous effort, Summer Athletics, introduced a less-strenuous rhythm based control system to well known events, Winter Sports is happy to leave you flailing about aimlessly. Hop straight into the challenge mode – a series of bite-sized challenges such as nailing a perfect start or hitting a certain speed – and you’ll need to rely on trial and error alone to succeed.
Thankfully a couple of events are more easily interpreted. Skiing (while collecting coins or tallying up lovely numbers), for instance, is quickly mastered, while curling is just a case of releasing A at the correct time. The game cannot survive on just two or three simple events, however, especially when the other challenges and their pinpoint timings are relatively impossible.
Having no discernable balance is Winter Sports’ biggest crime, and – double whammy time – with no Xbox Live features, multiplayer hopes are pinned solely on local support. Honestly now, would you really stick this on with company instead of Street Fighter IV or even Resident Evil 5? We think not.
Feb 24, 2009