Do you know your Wassenstation from your Traverse? Your Kitzbuhel from your Garmisch? Your Head from your Dynostar? Your Jansrud from your Paris? If you do, then like me you’re an Alpine Skiing nut, who has probably been craving a current-gen, up to date Alpine Skiing Season game for years now.
The 2019/20 Alpine Skiing season kicked off a couple of weeks ago in Solden, Austria, and for yet another year, we still have not had a tie-in game to join it. Since the last time I had a rant about this (Sorry Ed), there have actually been more skiing games floating around and on the horizon, but none of them focused solely on the Alpine Skiing season.
Steep released a decent DLC add on where you could actually race Downhill, Super G, Giant Slalom, and Slalom, and it wasn’t half bad. If only they had expanded that over a whole season to the actual real tracks the pro’s hurtle themselves down each year and impress us with their bravery, I would be a happy gamer.
Snow Resort Manager is on the gaming horizon to be released, along with the utterly ridiculous but fun looking Tony Slopes. However, it’s always astounded me, the thrill of speeding down a hill, and the exhilaration, the finesse, the accuracy, the skill, the balls-out go for it bravery that is ski racing, has never made it to the stunning visual, modern digital gaming days. Surely the joy of gaming is in finding new gameplay experiences most normal humans will never get to experience in their lifetime, and one of the best real-world experiences that still hasn’t had a current-gen makeover is Ski racing. It’s not as if the sport is a minority one either, raking in massive viewing audiences, huge sponsorship deals for the athletes and it is a wildly popular pastime. So for many, the nearest we would ever get to the thrill of actual-world cup racing would be digitally on our gaming consoles.
We haven’t had a dedicated game since 2007, although, the best Alpine Skiing season-themed game, in my humble opinion, was released the year before in 2006.
The reason the 2006 version of the game (featuring the Herminator) is still the best one to play, even today, is not just because the gameplay mechanics of the later 2007 version were, awful, but because no other game before or after the 2006 version lets you experience the real ski runs of the actual world tour.
Trying to find that perfect line, blending speed with cornering to shave tenths of a second off a blast down the Kandahar run at Chamonix (which I have had the pleasure of skiing myself) in the digital form, knowing one tiny mistake could end in tears, or the sweet taste of victory, is so rewarding. It’s not just the downhill runs that are excellent though. The other events’ mechanics are solid too.
The Slalom is a real trial of flow over course memory, GS slightly faster and just as technical but the mechanics allow you to be very accurate. Super G, the best of both worlds between speed and carving turns, and then the all-out, I have a need for speed, Downhill. Each event feels very different and requires different gaming skill sets to do well. So the gameplay is fun, yet it’s challenging.
You can also obtain upgrades to make the edging of your ski’s, and therefore the turns more accurate, as well as upgrading your athlete to be faster and more powerful.
So seeing as the trusty old PS2 and PC are the only platforms that host the 2006 game, that is still the best way to experience the alpine skiing season in gaming form, and that’s where you’ll find me, patiently waiting, still perfecting my Kitzbuhel downhill run and wanting more.