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Winter Sports: The Ultimate Challange

21 Apr 2008  by   Paul Younger
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It is hard to believe that the Wii is already one year old. Even more unbelievable is the number of games that have been released for the system so far. With quantity, unfortunately, comes a lack of quality sometimes. So many titles to choose from; which ones are worth your hard earned cash?

I must admit that, when I was offered the chance to review Winter Sports, my first thought was “how good could that be?”

It was not a game I had heard anything about prior to release and that can be a bad sign. Not one to jump to conclusions based on past experiences, I needed to know one thing before agreeing to play it: does it have curling? Thankfully, the answer was yes.

Not only does Winter Sports include curling, it contains no less than 15 sports across 4 general areas: sledding, skating, skiing and curling. Not wanting to oversimplify what is available, here is a more specific rundown:

• Ski Jumping: Long and short hill
• Cross Country Skiing
• Alpine Skiing: Super-G, Giant slalom, Slalom, Downhill
• Bobsled: 4-Man or 2-Woman
• Luge
• Speed Skating: 500m and 1500m
• Figure Skating
• Curling

The game is set up to be played a variety of ways. You can jump into the action in any specific event using the single event option. You can also enter a 7 or 15 event competition. For multiplayer enjoyment, virtual competition can be played with up to 4 players (one at a time) or 2 in split-screen in events of your choosing (this can also be played single player). Campaign mode gives specific goals (like a perfect start in skiing) on a game board-type event. Successful completion of a space unlocks adjacent areas and completing the campaign results in a nice little surprise.

If you are looking for a deeper and longer-lasting experience you may want to try career mode. To start a career you choose a country to represent and progress through a series of random events for competition. As you complete events and win medals you are awarded experience points that can be “spent” in any discipline of your choice. This will raise your skills in the given area.

Given the Wii’s sometimes peculiar control configurations, you are probably wondering how the control scheme works in Winter Sports. I am pleased to say that, in most cases, the controls system is not only good, it is logical and easy to pick up. That is not to say it is perfect, but, given the number of events available in the game and the relative diversity of some, this was clearly well thought out. The only control setup that is somewhat disconnected to the event involved is figure skating. In it, you play a type of rhythm game where you must shake the controllers at a specific time (think Dance Dance Revolution with just two possible movements). If you are on beat, you will complete the desired move. Miss and you may fall flat on the ice.

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