Go! Sports Ski is the latest title from Sony in their casual Go! series of downloadable games on the PlayStation Store, following the Go! Puzzle pack released earlier this year. Dubbed a 'ski simulator' by Sony, Go! Sports Ski offers the usual bundle of features for most of Sony's PSN offerings -- including 1080p support, online leaderboards, and a cheap price (a mere $2.99).
What sets Go! Sports Ski apart from many of the other recent titles is fairly robust online multiplayer support. The game has several different online gameplay modes, including time trials, battle runs and slaloms -- as well as the ability to download the ghosts of the top players in the world. Once you've downloaded the ghosts you can either watch them for tips or compete directly with them in the single-player game. It's a nice little inclusion and I hope that Sony starts offering this level of online multiplayer support for all of their upcoming PSN titles.
Go! Sports Ski's real hook though is that it is controlled exclusively by the Sixaxis motion controls. Yes, like Lair and Super Rub-a-Dub, you control your character entirely via tilting the controller around -- the surprising thing is that it actually works pretty darn well. To move your skier forward, you tilt the controller forward. To turn your character to the right, you tilt the controller to the right. To do a sharp turn, you tilt the controller in the direction you want to turn and tilt it back at the same time. To jump, you simply jump the controller up quickly. While there is a bit of a learning curve (like all motion controlled games), it only takes a couple runs to get comfortable with the controls -- and once you do, you'll be surprised at the precision that is possible with it.
While the game offers some surprisingly solid Sixaxis controls and a decent selection of multiplayer options, the rest of the game is so bare bones that it feels more like a demo than anything else. There are only two (2) tracks in the game, and neither one are particularly long. The first track is the 'easy' one and takes about two minutes to beat, and the second track is the 'difficult' one and takes about three minutes to beat. While the clear goal of the game is to perfect your runs on these tracks and then go online to compete with the best in order to win awards and rankings, it doesn't hide the fact that there is a criminally low selection of possible tracks to race on.
The tracks themselves look and play like a technical demo for SSX on the PS3. Though Go! Sports Ski is billed as a 'ski simulator', it has you outracing a massive snowball (ala Indiana Jones) as well as making massive jumps and collecting powerups. The tracks look okay, but are rather plain and don't have the flash and bling that the SSX tracks did, nor does it have they attention to detail and accuracy that you'd expect a ski simulator to have. That's not to say the tracks are completely pedestrian, since they do tend to have multiple pathways, shortcuts, and the occasional decent set piece (like the aforementioned massive snowball). Unfortunately, it just isn't going to be enough to hold most people's attention for long.
It doesn't help that the graphics look, at best, like an up-rezed Xbox 1 game. There is absolutely nothing about the game that suggests it's a next-gen title other than the occasional nice texture and solid draw distance. Your character is about as generic as can possibly be, and even though you can change the models, all it does is change the skin color. While this isn't entirely unusual (many games have done the same), the amazingly unoriginal frat boy character that you play looks absolutely ridiculous with the 'black' skin texture. It honestly looks like a white guy in black face (and the Hispanic and Asian skin textures aren't any better). The rest of the customization options are very very basic -- you can pick a couple different types of skis, modify the color of your jacket, and decide whether or not to wear a cap.
Like I mentioned in my Piyotama review though, even with all these downsides, it's hard to really rip into a game that costs way less than I spend on lunch everyday. True, the graphics are a bit underwhelming, there are only two tracks and the customization options are laughable, but it costs less than three dollars, manages to nail the Sixaxis motion controls surprisingly well, and offers quite a bit of replayability via its online offerings. In the end, Go! Sports Ski is not a game that the hardcore gamer will play for more than an hour or so, but it's questionable whether or not the hardcore gamer is the target audience for this title anyway. When I sat down two young children (5 and 7) and gave them the controllers, they fell in love with the game immediately and had to be pried away from the TV with the Jaws of Life.
When it comes down to it, the decision to buy Go! Sports Ski largely comes down to if you have little kids in the house. If you do, this is a great download and is recommended. If you live in a household full of hardcore gamers (or just by your lonely, lonely self), purchasing Go! Sports Ski is based purely on whether or not you feel three dollars is worth it for a couple hours of entertainment.
PS3 Fanboy score: 5.5
Second Opinion: Andrew
Everyone knows the old adage: you get what you pay for. Go! Sports Ski is three dollars for a reason: no hardcore gamer should ever pay more than that. Understandably, children can adore the game. But let's not forget that kids will find almost anything compelling. One can't ignore the awkward physics, limited track selection, and poor presentation. A bad game that happens to be dirt cheap is still a bad game. Go buy something from a fast food value menu instead. It'll ultimately be more satisfying.