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Ski Park Manager

Score: 40%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Lankhor
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Simulation

Graphics & Sound:

A dominating element of this game is snow, and in turn you will be forced to look at this element for the entirety of the game. Luckily, you won't go snow-blind. The graphics are 3D, but given the nature of the game, most of the sharp edges and flat surfaces are nowhere to be found. The main view is always an isometric look at mountains and a valley, and while always nicely done, there is no variety at all between the different maps. Apparently, all snow-covered mountains look the same in France.

The sound seems to have followed close suit to the graphics. The music is halfway between a European techno beat and slow paced elevator music. The end result is interesting, and not all that bad. But if you don't like it, then that's all you get to listen to. The sound effects not only could use more variety, but more sound effects. They are all too scarce throughout the entire playing experience, and you are never to be rewarded with the sounds of busy holidaymakers when you complete your thriving ski resort.


Gameplay:

Ski Park Manager is not unlike Sim City in that you are to build up a thriving location full of happy workers and even happier residents. The maps all have different goals set out for them, and it is your job to meet them. Going about this can be done in a handful of different ways, though unfortunately, none of them are special in their own right.

Attracting guests to your park is done through the building of ski runs. These come in a few different varieties, including downhill, cross-country, and sledding. Depending on the type of guests you have coming to your park will determine which types of ski runs you have build.

Also on the list of things that you must provide for your guests are places of leisure. You must provide shops, daycare centers, parks, benches, bars, anything that will keep the local population happy and under control. You'll find that unhappy residents leave post haste.

But this isn't an anarchist park where the people take care of everything. Workers are a necessity to keep things in order. Not only do you have to hire and pay people to run your shops, but maintenance workers are needed as well. Just about everything you build will break down, and if there isn't someone there to fix it, you'll see a huge plunge in your guest attendance. Not only will the machines break down, but your fun loving attendees will also hurt themselves from time to time, and if there isn't a medic station nearby, you could have a death on your hands, an unwelcome event, needless to say.

All of these elements add up to a mighty complicated equation, and the answer to it isn't all that appealing. While the design of the game works out well, it isn't all that much fun trying to figure it all out. The title of the game doesn't lie when it says you have to be a manager. Playing this game is more like having a real job than actually playing a game.


Difficulty:

Without any tutorial at all, a faulty screen pointer, and one of the worst instruction books I've ever had the misfortune to read, the developers have turned a simple concept into a guessing game. Ski Park Manager should, and could, have been approachable by people of all levels. And while every map comes in its own variety of easy, medium and hard, this seems superficial until you actually get to the point of being able to play the game.

Game Mechanics:

The control interface is integrated into a series of windows. By right clicking with the mouse, you bring up your building window. From here you can build, destroy, landscape, or deforest to your heart's content, as long as you have the funds. Clicking on a building will display its info at the bottom of the screen, and from here you can manipulate the details about the particular construction.

Rotating the view and moving around the map are a little more difficult, however. This is where the interface doesn't particularly fail, but it certainly does falter. Instead of letting you 'push' the view around with the mouse, you have to click and drag your way around. Rotating the screen is done by clicking the rotate buttons, but you can quickly become disorientated because of the few distinguishable landmarks and extremely tall mountains.

Ultimately, in the end, Ski Park Manager fails. Poor instruction, too many menial tasks to handle at once, and poor control have brought about the demise of this game. Perhaps the developers figured everyone in the world skis as much as the French do, and assumed it would be second nature for someone to create their idea of a great ski park. If this was the case, it was a fatal assumption that should not be overlooked by other developers.


-Snow Chainz, GameVortex Communications
AKA Andrew Horwitz

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2000/ME/XP, 233 MHZ Processor, 64 MB RAM, 250 MB Free Hard Disk Space, 2 MB Video Card DirectX Compatible, DirectX Compatible Sound Card
 

Test System:



Windows 98, 1.4GHz AMD Athlon, GeForce 2 mx 32MB video card, 40 gig hard drive, 56x CD-ROM, 256MB DDR Ram, Sound Blaster Live! sound card, T1 Internet connection

Windows The Sims: Superstar Windows Space Colony

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated