You need to be pretty confident about your development skills if you’re going to call the results ‘Great’. Germans 49Games are probably relying on sheer bravado to convince us their latest winter sports game is awesome. It is, of course, no such thing – but points for trying.
This 2010 vintage is marginally better than last year’s effort, but only marginally – there are online modes at last, but otherwise what you get are eight snowbound activities that range from the pretty good (snowboarding) to the downright wretched (the biathlon – slow-motion skiing over largely flat courses coupled with woefully twitchy target shooting. What were they thinking?). In between there’s middling fare like the monotonous QTE fest that is figure skating, and the fast but limited speed skating.
As such (and while eight games might sound like a decent amount) there’s not much to captivate here – and the same problems remain as in last year’s edition, not least the in-at-the-deep-end confusion over how the controls work for each event, especially starting. You’re given scant seconds to understand how to, say, push your skier off, usually by flicking the analogue sticks down to hit on-screen prompts, and by the time you’ve figured out what’s going on you’re in last place. Yes, there are tutorials, but given the horrendous loading times involved the game soon becomes an exercise in frustration.
It’s a shame, because there are some good ideas, such as accruing experience as you win events, which you can then plough into special skills and upgrades, and there’s 44 different challenges to tackle. These challenges are billed as “enthralling”, which they’re not, but they’re by far the most engrossing element of Winter Sports, for what it’s worth – asking you to collect 20 coins as you snowboard down a mountain, for instance, or beat a certain time while avoiding, er, skull-shaped obstacles.
If this was a budget game, we could swallow a lot of the game’s problems, and enjoy its better events. But even then, there’s little depth to the best bits, and the off-kilter character models will give you nightmares for weeks. Maybe Winter Sports 2011 can make a better fist of things… right?
Feb 25, 2010