You need to be pretty confident about your development skills if you%26rsquo;re going to call the results %26lsquo;Great%26rsquo;. 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 %26ndash; but points for trying.
This 2010 vintage is marginally better than last year%26rsquo;s effort, but only marginally %26ndash; 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 %26ndash; slow-motion skiing over largely flat courses coupled with woefully twitchy target shooting. What were they thinking?). In between there%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s not much to captivate here %26ndash; and the same problems remain as in last year%26rsquo;s edition, not least the in-at-the-deep-end confusion over how the controls work for each event, especially starting. You%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;ve figured out what%26rsquo;s going on you%26rsquo;re in last place. Yes, there are tutorials, but given the horrendous loading times involved the game soon becomes an exercise in frustration.
It%26rsquo;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%26rsquo;s 44 different challenges to tackle. These challenges are billed as %26ldquo;enthralling%26rdquo;, which they%26rsquo;re not, but they%26rsquo;re by far the most engrossing element of Winter Sports, for what it%26rsquo;s worth %26ndash; 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%26rsquo;s problems, and enjoy its better events. But even then, there%26rsquo;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%26hellip; right?
Feb 25, 2010