Games are frequently criticised for being jacks-of-all-trades, but a masters of none.
Plenty of sports titles try to mount the thin line between simulation and arcade, attempting to jazz things up whilst maintaining the typically unforgiving approach favoured by hardcore fans.
Metro Ski Challenge has something in common with such releases. Rather than failing in its attempt to blend the two conflicting styles, it succeeds with some great skiing gameplay.
The problem, however, is that it's structured not like a game, but a one-off promotional app.Devil is in the details
To be clear, there's a game to play here, but at points Metro Ski Challenge feels like an interactive advert. The game is littered with ads for Teletext Holidays, with a competition to win a trip away to Austria flanking most of the menu screens.
To even play the game in the first place, you're required to register a load of information ranging from birth date to mailing address. It's not the most welcoming of starts.
While a contest is sufficient reason to ask for such details, requiring contest registration to play the game is heavy-handed - particularly since this is a paid title. Perhaps demanding registration in a free version would make sense, but when you've already paid to play it's off-putting.Slick on the slopes
Once you're registered, the game provides two options: Training mode or qualifying for the contest. The options are essentially the same, letting you ski down a Bavarian hillside (other courses in France, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria are available) in as quick a time as possible.
The only difference between the two is that the qualifying mode lets you post a qualification time for the race that follows.
A touch of slowdown aside, Metro Ski Challenge is peerless in some key areas. The handling is faultless, utilising the accelerometer to steer and virtual buttons to speed up and slow down.
Given that you're allowed to tweak the specifications of your skis, it's possible to finetune your equipment without having to engage needlessly complicated menus.The real challenge
The problems are twofold. First, the game is too unforgiving. Rather than adding time to your total should you miss a gate, it immediately disqualifies you. Making even the slightest of contact with a flag or the side of the track results in failure.
Second, there's actually no race following qualification – at least, not straight away. Once your time is posted, attempting to start the race simply flashes up a date. If you buy Metro Ski Challenge today, you can't actually race until Feb 12th-13th.
To charge for a game but then restrict how it's played to such a degree is frankly bizarre.
As such, though Metro Ski Challenge has handling and controls to be admired, the way such excellence is delivered is comparatively unpleasant.
It adds up to yet another sports game painfully caught between two stools, only in this case, Metro Ski Challenge is half sports sim, half glorified marketing tool.