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Alpine Ski Racing 2007 (PC) artwork

Alpine Ski Racing 2007 (PC) review

"The actual performance of your skier is also directly linked to the stats in such a way that you can feel those new poles doing their job and you can feel those boasted levels taking effect. Clumsy turns become sharp ones; your acceleration becomes quicker; the ability your skier has to carve tight turns through the white stuff become more crisp and competent"

Alpine Ski Racing 2007 tries to be a little different in its approach to sliding down snowy slopes on a couple of planks of wood. In a niche genre dominated these days in snowboarding (because itís more hip, apparently) ski games are usually represented with arcade-y entrants like the SSX range, or more serious outings like Amped (pre-3). Alpine takes a slightly different route and instead makes it less of a play-for-fun video game and more of a career simulator.

Whereas it has all the options if you fancy nothing more than an arcade-like race-against-the-clock (and indeed, if Alpine Ski Racing has anything, itís a veritable cornucopia of options to chose from) itís the career mode that holds the gameís biggest draw. Starting off as a no-name rookie (or as the two pros who endorse the game, Bode Miller or Hermann Maier, in stripped-of-stats mode), you take part in various events and manage your rise through the ranks from scratch. Whereas this could just constitute as running races again and again, shifting up the rankings each time you do well, this is only a part of the procedure: youíll also have to micro-manage your winnings, investing it in better calibre coaching staff and equipment. You can even hire more capable lackeys to wax your skis should you not want to do it yourself.

I, of course, wanted to do no such thing. I didnít just win that last slalom so I can spend forever polishing two oversized chopsticks.

This management system works well. You start off with very little funding and are therefore forced to scrape the barrel in respects to resources. Your coach is bordering on incompetent, your equipment cast-offs and the races you attend low-key. Itís only by getting decent placements in these race you can afford to upgrade both equipment, staff, and stats. What this boils down to is enduring the cheaper guys until you start bringing in big cash prizes and slowly upgrade your resources, hiring better coaches, purchasing better equipment such as more streamlined racing helmets or gloves with better grip, and better variants of wax for your servant to adorn your skis with.

I really like that you purchase a slave to wax your skis; does it show?

The actual performance of your skier is also directly linked to the stats in such a way that you can feel those new poles doing their job and you can feel those boasted levels taking effect. Clumsy turns become sharp ones; your acceleration becomes quicker; the ability your skier has to carve tight turns through the white stuff become more crisp and competent. In speeding down snow-caked hills, itís all about trying to find the best line, about taking those corners a little better than the last guy and about hitting the incline just right and nailing the landing on the way back down. Shaving away seconds is vital in races, hitting all the gates and avoiding time penalties a must. At best, itís intense trying to achieve the best run, satisfying to nail a perfect turn that will give you a few milliseconds on your opponents. At worst, itís repetitive and prone to get old pretty quick.

There are problems. Alpine basically asks you to look at some guyís backside as he hurtles down a mountain over-and-over again. Itís not that the graphics are not serviceable (they are) and itís not like you canít change the perspective (you can; thereís a first-person view for those who like to play their games with a side-order of motion sickness) but the races tend to meld together into one glutinous mess after a while. Slaloms do what they can to break out of this mould, but youíre still rocketing down a steep white slope bordered by day-glow orange safety fences while the commentary team babbles on about the two pros the game houses in a cringeworthy and obvious facade of inside promotion (itís illegal in soap operas for a reason!) The in-game music is also bad enough to warrant a brief mention, but thatís easily solved by turning it off. Alpineís quite happy to flood the gamer with more options in customising the game than theyíll probably ever need, but itís not enough to make the repetitiveness of the title go away. This is a game you play in spurts; not in marathon sittings.

But that does not a bad game make, and, indeed, Iíve had a lot of fun with Alpine Ski Racing 2007. Itís a refreshing new look at a genre that could certainly do with something a little different in between the throngs of me-too SSXís like Freak Out: Extreme Freeride, Alpine manages to make it cool to throw out the snowboard, strap on some skis and race fast enough to avoid frostbite. Wins always mean more when they mean something, and what can mean more then the gradual building of a stat-heavy skiing God bearing your name?

Variation maybe, but shush. Alpineís still a lot of fun.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 15, 2007)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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