|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: 49Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Conspiracy Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 2, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
You might not have ever heard of it before, but apparently ski and shoot is an actual sport. It's a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting, and is particularly popular in some European countries. Ever on the look-out for untapped customer niches, Conspiracy Entertainment's title Ski and Shoot is all about skiing and shooting. To somebody who's never heard of this sport, it might seem to be a weird combination of activities. And while the sport itself might be fun, this video game certainly is not.
The premise behind Ski and Shoot is not surprising: you play as one of a variety of international athletes and tackle several ski and shoot courses. You'll cross-country ski through the course and then come to a shooting station, where you must take out your rifle and shoot a set number of targets as quickly as you can. Then, you hop up and ski off, to repeat the process several times until the race is complete.
There are a few different modes that Ski and Shoot offers. You can try practice runs to get a feel for different courses, test out new skiers, and learn how the game works. You can also start a quick match, which is similar to a practice run by yourself, but also allows you to play with a friend. Finally, there's career mode, which contains the bulk of the game. Here, you'll select an athlete and compete in events to earn a gold cup while skiing and shooting.
Up to this point, everything seems like a fairly traditional sports game. Sure, it features athletes that almost nobody has heard of, and the sport itself is somewhat obscure, but maintaining the status quo isn't always a bad thing for video game developers. Unfortunately, what really kills Ski and Shoot is the complete lack of variety in both gameplay and controls.
The controls suffer from two distinct problems: firstly, they're not particularly intuitive and, as such, it can be easy to forget what gesture to perform or what buttons to press in order to execute a specific action. Secondly, and more importantly, they're extremely repetitive and boring.
My apologies to any cross-country skiers, but as much fun as the sport might be, it makes for a really boring video game. Successful snow-sport games succeed largely thanks to their sense of speed; other mechanics often come second. But cross-country skiing has no speed to fall back on, except for some occasional downhill portions throughout the courses.
The Wii Remote action for propelling yourself up hills consists simply of moving the remote and Nunchuk forward and backward in an alternation fashion. So, you'll be spending a good 75% of the game performing this very monotonous action. Needless to say, this doesn't make for a very fun game.
Though this may be irrelevant, I don't honestly think this control shortcoming is necessarily due to a fault by the developers. Cross-country skiing is by nature a relatively slow-paced activity, with lots of repetitive actions followed by occasional spurts of slow downhill movement. It's more the nature of the sport itself than the execution of the sport that prevents Ski and Shoot from being an enjoyable game.
The other major problem with Ski and Shoot is that there's no gameplay variety. That is, you could play Ski and Shoot for ten minutes and experience everything that the game has to offer. You'll climb a hill, go down a hill, climb another hill, and go down another hill. And you'll do this over and over and over again. There are a few turns peppered in to spice things up, but it's really just the same thing repeated ad nauseum. Even the numerous tracks don't make this game interesting to play.