Austrian ski champion Hermann Maier puts his name on JoWoods latest Skiing game, which could attract the skiers out there, but just how fun can a ski game be? Ski Racing 2005 is neither an arcade game, nor a hardcore simulator but falls somewhere between. The game is not deadly serious, but at the same time not as crazy as some snowboarding games or any of the Tony Hawks series.
The slopes on offer are all based on the real-life settings, with all the World Cup disciplines to take part in (Slalom, Giant Slalom, Super-G and the Downhill). Each event involves flying down a hill, and navigating through flags to reach the finish (surprise surprise).
The Slaloms are by far the most difficult, trying to slide your kamikaze skier into tight turns whilst avoiding the flags is quite taxing, but not enough to become annoying.
The Super-G and Downhill courses are not as tricky to get through, but still quite tough to set a decent time. All times are recorded and can be uploaded onto the Ski Racing server to compare your times against players from around the globe.
Quite a few game modes are here, with the option to partake in a quick Single Event, or to develop your character in the World Cup Tournament. Single races consist of either Time Attack (Beef it down the hill in the fastest time possible), Tournament (Multiple players take turns to tackle a course, time and results are recorded), or a more interesting Replay Chase were you can try and beat one of your saved replays, chasing the "Ghost" player down the slope. The World Cup Tournament is a mixture of all the disciplines, and unlocks new slopes as you progress. This is the main game mode and allows you to upgrade your characters skill points, as well as compete against the computer racers. Going through the whole tournament and doing well is a pretty difficult task and should take most gamers a while to get used to.
A strong point of this game is its sense of speed; every event will have your heart racing as you glide down the slopes, cringing at the rag doll physics as your player hits a barrier. Think Unreal Tournament on skis.
Creating your own player is a doddle, and gives you lots of options to play around with. Pretty much everything is here, from his ski suit to his nationality and ski style, along with his boots, goggles and facial appearance. After creating your skier and progressing through the first cup, a new feature is unlocked allowing you to create your own events, which is another nice addition but like the un-lockable video clips just isn't enough to have you coming back too often.
Controlling the game couldn't be simpler, with 2 action buttons and then the arrow keys being used to steer. A camera change option and ghost skier button can be clicked to see how far ahead / behind you are of the leading racer.
To add some atmosphere there are varying weather conditions which don't appear to have an effect on the controls but do change the look of the slopes a little. The graphics here are fairly average and are not going to set any new grounds, but just how good can you make a ski game look? Audio is as good as it can be, with the crowd cheering and catchy music loops being played throughout the menus. The option to choose a playlist around your MP3 collection is an added bonus, making the game feel that little more arcade like.
And that's sadly all there is to it. Like throwing snowballs at the postman; its fun for a while but you realize there isn't anything clever about it. Ski Racing 2005 is not a bad game, nor a chart topper, but is most definitely short lived fun for fans of the sport.
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