Ever fancied running your own ski resort? Do you have the urge to spend the whole day in a snowcat grooming the various runs while playing cat and mouse with skiers? Well, this could be your lucky day. Excalibur Publishing are back with a brand new simulator as part of their usual real life simulation series of titles, and this time it involves snow management. Visitor Satisfaction is key to your success, so you will need to manicure the slopes with a wide range of equipment from snowcats to snow cannons. Here you can explore a huge four kilometre ski zone on foot or by vehicle as you make your decisions. You need to manage ski lifts, ticket prices, buy hotels and restaurants, and basically have a bash at everything you could expect in a ski resort. The real question here though is, not what you have to do, but more like, is it any fun.
Right from the offset, you can tell the whole game is based around the same game engine used in previous titles by the same developers. The last title I saw this in was Demolition Company. The graphics are not good at all. The whole area seems bland and boring. The buildings have hardly any detail on them and the whole area feels more like a game we would have seen ten years ago and not the modern look we can expect nowadays. I have seen indie games that look better than this. You get no effects as you run around the snowy resort. No footprints are left and the sound effects are virtually non-existent. This is not a very good start, and immediately fills you with the knowledge and dread that this game is not going to be winning any awards.
The first thing you have to do is try and learn what you are meant to do to get going. This is all done by moving to markers left scattered around the resort and reading up on their actions and uses. Now, unlike previous titles, I was completely at a loss on how to actually get going. The tutorial system is awful, there is no proper guidance and you are left with more of a chore that a fun game. It took me a couple or restarts of the campaign to actually get anywhere. This was mostly because I kept losing my snowcat. Often when I loaded up a save game, instead of placing me back at my previous save game position, it decided to put me back in the default spawn position for the game. This meant I lost my snowcats and other vehicles often. Even after climbing the mountain to where I was sure I left it, it was gone. I am not sure if it was me being stupid, but I do feel this was a bad bug in the game.
Now, the first thing I did after spending a good deal of time trying to work out what to do, was to hop in the snowcat and start grooming a few runs. This has to be done so the skiers have a more enjoyable time. If you are a skier, then you will know how nice a well groomed run is. You can do this task at any time of day. However, the best time to do this is at night, when there are no skiers on the pistes. Although I never really found it any different, no matter what time of day you do this, as when you hit a skier nothing happens, they just ski right through you as if you are a ghost.
We also have side missions that can be attempted to gain better reputation and more dosh. For example, occasionally you will get a phone call advising you of a skier that has hurt themselves and need rescued. If you achieve this and save them in a good amount of time, you get some positive reputation and some extra cash for your troubles. You also get to buy new equipment such as snow blowers to maintain a good snow level for the times it has not snowed enough to keep your resort well covered. There is a small Easter Egg hidden in this game, to give you some sort of fun, that involves finding one hundred gnomes that have been scattered around the whole region. I am not sure if many people will achieve this though, as it will take a long time to do.
The AI in this game is awful as I have mentions, skiers just walk through you and they all just seem to be set on a set path and make no attempts at avoiding you. This doesn’t help this game and could have been done so much better. I feel this whole game has been rushed out as quickly as possible. There seems to be far too many of these real life simulator games being churned out nowadays and there are hardly any that are really worth you handing over your hard earned cash to play.
This is a great shame, as with a bit more time spent on these titles they could be a pretty interesting way to portray various jobs that people do. I am sorry to say, but this game is really bad, it leaves you with the feeling of a good few hours wasted. Hours you could have spent playing a much more enjoyable game. Unless you are really into ski regions and want to learn everything there is to do with running one, this is a game to miss out. The whole game feels like a big chore and not a fun thing to do in your free time.
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