Conquer the slopes in a truly authentic, high quality skiing simulator for Windows
- Multiple courses to choose from
- 1-player and multiplayer modes available
- Aim to be the best by beating records
- Customize your skiier by gender, nationality, ski and suit design
- First and third person views available
- Online servers are quite inactive now
- Some nationalities, such as English, are not available
Ski Challenge 14 is a free Ski simulator for PC (Windows) which lets you experience the action and thrill of skiing in a variety of real world locations recreated in an amazing 3D environment.
A Truly Authentic Skiing Environment
Ski Challenge games have been prevalent in the gaming world for a while, and with the 2014 addition comes yet another excellent iteration of the franchise. As ski simulators go, this one is definitely up there with the best. Having played the game only for a few minutes, I was immediately struck by its amazing depth and graphical quality. Colors, textures, lighting and shadows, and backgrounds were all sharp and of excellent quality. Skiier movements, in addition, are fluid and precise, without seeming overly mechanized.
When you begin the game, you will be presented with a series of menus, including Play, Duel and Group race. These are fairly self-explanatory, allowing you to play as a single player, against a real opponent, or in a group of multiple skiiers. This trio of options means that you can still play, whatever the situation.
After selecting your desired mode from the list at the main menu, you will be given a list of courses to choose from, as well as a skiier. From here you can select suit design, ski design, gender and nationality. Your nationality will be displayed on leaderboards. One limitation here is that only twelve nations will be offered, including Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Scandinavian nations and the United States. After a brief loading screen, you're good to go. Courses are also representative of real life skiing environments, being designed in a similar fashion.
Mastering the Slopes
Before beginning a race, groups of cheering fans will offer their support before you set off. These sounds will recur throughout a race and from crowds at finishing lines. Although sounds are rather repetitive, they definitely add to the ambiance. After waving goodbye to the various banners at the starting line (some of which contain ads for the game), you can set off.
Controls are quite simple to pick up. In addition to controlling horizontal movement with your skiis, a player can also tilt skiis inward or outward to manage speeds, similar to real skiing. You can also switch to a first person view to make it really authentic. The main objective here is to balance speed with balance and control so that you don't end up crashing into the series of boards and nets scattered throughout courses and finish in good time. Skiing sounds are also very realistic, from the sound of the skiis sliding off the snow to the sounds of the wind resistance. The user interface on-screen is comprised of a kind of heads-up display or map on the top left, displaying a compass and the course, your current velocity, as well as a timer.
To make your gameplay more interesting, the game contains multiple game modes. Within the 'Play' option, you can choose from modes such as arcade, time trial, free ride, black ice, parallel race and more. While each centralizes skiing skills, some put more pressure on the player, such as Time Trial mode. if you are skilled enough, you can also try your hand at online tournaments, which can be entered on specific dates by qualifying for them (earning a specific time on a course). While beating the clock or playing against computers might be your thing, the majority of players will be found trying to climb the online leaderboards in Duel and Group modes. Online rankings let you compare your best times with friends or even achieve global records for your efforts.
In Group Race, you are able to create your own race formats and customize them as you wish. This is an excellent option for players who are constantly playing in tournaments with preset rules. Duel Mode also lets you face off against your friends or rivals one on one, as the name implesi, with nothing online other than glory. In this mode, the track as well as the weather conditions are chosen randomly.
Overall, Ski Challenge 14 is an excellent folllow-up to an already excellent franchise. Ski in single or multiplayer, play against friends or qualify and compete in large tournaments. Customize your skiier by gender, nationality and ski and suit design using a generous color palette. Keep track of your records on the global leaderboards. Gameplay is very solid indeed, with intuitive controls for speed and stability and a nice choice of courses on offer. While I feel there could have been a bit more choice in this area, it's the competitive side of play that will be the biggest draw for most players.