Page Sports: Ski Racing"
PC Gaming goes
By Steven Bilodeau
Street, Americas 26 year old silver medalist in the 1992 Olympics,
had a tough start to 1998. She underwent knee surgery in January
and had a spectacular downhill crash in Sweden that threatened to jeopardize
her chances of even competing at the Nagano Olympics. However, she not
only recovered, but won gold in the womens super-G.
on the cake, shes the host of computer gamings first true
ski simulation, Sierras "Front Page Sports: Ski Racing."
Street is not just the token endorsement, she is an integral part of the
game. When it was being developed, she guided the programmers in perfecting
the player physics. As you play the game, she appears in high-quality
videos to explain the techniques and differences in the different ski
game offers five types of skiing: slalom, giant slalom, Super-G, downhill
and all-around. There are also six world-class courses including B.C.s
Whistler. The others are Aspen, Vail, Bachelor, Val dIsere and Garmisch.
Each one has been faithfully recreated for an authentic experience. The
terrain, trees, cliffs, gate flags, crowds and scenery are all where theyre
supposed to be.
is challenging; this is no arcade game. Training sessions include running
commentary from Picabo Street where she advises on the mistakes youre
making. Crouching, standing, edging all of these moves must be
mastered while making sure you pass through the markers quickly enough.
too difficult at first, but thats because its authentic. Once
you spend some time with the game, youll start to get the hang of
it and be able to make it through the course in winning time. You can
even perform tricks while youre airborne in the jumps, like helicopter
spins and spread eagles.
youve finished the race, you can use the Instant Replay feature
to see what youve done right and where you can improve. Different
camera views are available, and you can edit the "film" to create
a clip of your run that can be saved to disk. Theyre great to watch,
especially since the details and colours are so impressive. The graphics
in this game are optimized for 3D accelerators, though iIf you dont
have a 3D card, youll still enjoy the graphics, and you can adjust
the settings for optimal performance on your computer.
playing as Picabo Street, you can create your own skier to compete through
an entire season or a single race. This isnt just an exercise in
assigning your name to some prefabricated player. You get to choose your
brand of skis, boots, helmet and outfit. Most of the major brand names
and colours are available including Dynastar, Rossignol, K2, Nordica and
Atomic. Its this personalizing that really makes the game fun. That,
combined with Streets exuberant video tips, brought me back to this
game more than any other sports title (other than golf).
the graphics, players will notice digitized sound effects as you slice
down the hills and stereo music in the background. If you have a force-feedback
joystick, you can feel the moguls as you pass over them, and the crunch
of the fence that you crash into.
is Sierras first foray into skiing, and theres still room
for improvement in the next release. The scenery, while impressive, could
use a bit more detail. The skier can also look a little blocky or angular
at times, even at full detail.
the major additions supplied via a patch is be multiplayer capabilities
to allow competitions over modem, networks or the Internet. Internet gaming
will be particularly interesting since Sierra has a free site that lets
players connect with each other more easily.
Street, the Olympic medalist, has lent her name to a winner of a computer
game. Its a challenging, accurate and fun recreation of one of winters
favorite sports. After playing it awhile, youll wonder why its
taken so long for this sport to move indoor to your computer.
Bilodeau is a columnist for the Edmonton Journal. You can find more of
his columns at www.southam.com/edmontonjournal/computers/bilodeau.html.
Bilodeau can be reached via e-mail at StevenB@msn.com.
And for more computer news, visit JournalExtra, the World Wide Web site
of The Edmonton Journal, at http://www.edmontonjournal.com.
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