Let's just for one moment ignore the fact that Ski Racing 2006 is a game in which you slide down an icy mountain over and over again. Also, let's ignore the fact that like Formula One and snooker, skiing is only ever exciting to watch when somebody is crashing into a wall and breaking bones. Now, with that cynicism locked away in a little box inside your mind, let me tell you about Ski Racing 2006.
This is skiing's answer to Virtual Skipper, and if that thought alone hasn't made your little box of cynicism explode, then maybe, just maybe you'll be interested in this niche sports sim title. Even though skis are widely believed to be the most boring method of getting down a hill (after, you know, walking), and even though the activity has been dwarfed by the invention and subsequent rise to popularity of the humble snowboard, Ski Racing 2006 actually manages to squeeze some enjoyment out of the sport.
Graphically, the game is superb - draw distances meander off to distant snowcapped peaks and hidden villages, and the high-speed motion blur gives a decent impression of hurtling down the side of a frozen rock on a pair of flimsy planks. The animations are precise and accurate (as far as I can tell anyway... I'm not an expert on skiing stances), conveying nicely that athletically impressive side-to-side slalom movement and the uneasy wavering of a skier whose snow has just dropped from under him. There's also the option to give a positive or negative reaction at the end of a run, using the
good old PgUp and PgDown keys.
Obviously, this is a title which will appeal almost exclusively to fans of the sport (whoever you are), but for us mere plebs, it pales in comparison to the likes of SSX's snowboarding thrills. Still, with slaloms, downhill runs, an assortment of slopes from around the world, lots of real skiers and the ability to unlock new equipment and upgrade your skier's attributes, Ski Racing 2006 is quite simply as good as skiing games get. But unfortunately for most of us, it's still skiing.
- Skis go very fast
- Entrancing slalom
- No actual racing
- No huge ski jumps