Next month Russia will be hosting the 22nd Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. This is perfect timing for plenty of winter sport related apps which is probably why Unity Games and Roadhouse Interactive have teamed up to create and release FRS Ski Cross.
The game is all about downhill skiing which means strapping on your skis and racing to the bottom of a mountain in the fastest time possible. Before even playing we were encouraged to hear that members of the development team had previous worked on titles such as SSX and Skate.
The big positive for the game is that the actual gameplay is rather fun and addictive. You pick one of 50 courses along a Candy Crush Saga style path and then prepare to hurtle down the mountain. Load times are fairly swift and it’s not long before you’re in the starting gate. A quick 3, 2, 1 countdown and a tap of the screen and you’re off.
You need to time the tap of the screen with the countdown in order to launch at the correct time. Done right you’ll score a perfect with the best start possible, done wrong and you’ll be given a Good or an OK and off to a slower start.
The downhill courses start small but gradually get longer and more complex. Between the start and the finish line are a series of jumps and turns for you to negotiate. The developers have gone for a very simple control method that simply requires you to tap or tap and hold on the screen at the right times.
When you come to a jump you’ll see a blue marker at the ideal launch point. As you pass over this you need to tap the screen and how perfect you do this will affect the quality of your landing. When you come to a turn you’ll see red markers and the start and end. Here you need to hold your finger on the screen as you enter the turn and release as you exit. Done right you’ll keep your speed but if your timing is off then you’ll lose precious time. The game can also show a ghost skier which helps you see how well you are doing.
Technically the game isn’t the most advanced we’ve seen but the graphics are well done. The developers have managed to keep the size down to under 90Mb so it’s not going to take up too much space on your device.
Each course has a bronze, silver and gold time to achieve and initially it’s actually quite hard to do better than bronze. As you beat tracks you are awarded creds and scoring perfects during a run gives extra bonus creds too. These can be spent between runs in the in-game shop to buy better ski equipment and clothes. A nice touch if you’re a fan of the sport is that the gear is branded by real-world manufacturers. Better gear improves your stats allowing you to log faster times.
As fun as the game is, especially when challenging friends, there are big problems with FRS Ski Cross which are thanks to the inclusion of microtransactions and an energy system. To attempt a run you need a ticket and the game only starts you off with ten. After ten attempts you need to wait for 20 minutes for another ticket. Some of the early runs only last around 30 seconds so you can be out of things to do in just five minutes.
If you fancy playing the game more often then you need to be prepared to spend real money. You can purchase a ticket refill for £1.49. If you’re happy spending money then you can up your ticket limit to 20 or 40 for £13.99 or £34.99. The ticket refill then becomes a lot better value as it will refill to your max capacity.
If you’ve got money to burn then you can buy gold packages between 30-1000 gold for £1.99-£34.99. Gold can be used to buy yourself boosts, which are essential to get the higher medals, such as wax to increase your speed or slow motion to help time your jumps and turns. Gold can also be converted into creds to let you buy yourself better gear faster. Finally there are also special bundle items ranging from £1.99 to £27.99.
We suppose having a large variety of things to buy is a good thing but can’t understand why anyone would bother. As fun as the game is to play it’s not something you’re going to want to dump endless cash into. If you up your ticket limit to the max, buy the top gold and bundle packages you’re going to spend more than £100 and that’s just crazy for a casual game.
FRS Ski Cross is a decent game that is sadly spoilt by the energy system for tickets and the microtransactions needed to perform well. If you don’t mind playing in short bursts it’s possible to ignore this but players who just want to play could be in for an expensive time. Despite these problems it’s worth a download but we don’t expect many players will keep coming back to it unless changes are made.
You can download FRS Ski Cross for free from the iTunes App Store.