"Puppets, cock the hawser!"
The famous phrase from Fantozian memory, showed a hilarious scene during which the clumsy accountant tried in vain to confront a sailboat. Similar but much less fun, they will be the first moments that will distinguish the gaming experience with this Virtual Skipper 5, since in all likelihood the average user will not be able to move their vehicle even one millimeter. A rather simulative approach was therefore chosen, which, regardless of the selected difficulty, poses a whole series of problems that are difficult to solve if not adequately supported by precise knowledge: to illustrate, it is enough to know that with the "Arcade" settings the sails will be managed automatically , but it will still be necessary to know the difference between having bullshit or leaving them, under penalty of a bad interpretation of the winds and therefore a sure defeat. A partial remedy is provided by the instruction booklet and the tutorial, with the first well done and complete with many useful tips, while the second is too poor in explanations and superficial.
Once the first hurdles have been overcome - never this way of saying was more correct - the fun begins and you can enjoy the many options available. The nautical classes are four and range from the very fast trimarans, up to the monohull prototypes, those that compete for the America's Cup; each is linked to certain competitions, set in the most disparate bodies of water and which will culminate with the challenge to Alinghi, the current holder of the world trophy. Longevity does not therefore have to worry and the high rate of challenge for a long time postpones the feeling of fulfillment that often causes premature disinterest.
The commands are also good, which can be given via mouse or keyboard, as needed, with the latter preferable to the former, allowing to streamline the graphical interface and leaving more space for the boat.
Surfing in company
As per tradition, at Nadeo we thought about the needs of the gamer community that would gather around this new product, providing a series of tools to facilitate its proliferation.
The race editor is complete and guarantees the customization of every minimum aspect: the coast can be embellished with many structures and surfaces, so as to have a more realistic horizon, while the winds and sea currents are arranged at will, both for direction than by intensity. The route is traced according to taste, placing buoys and gates where you want, being careful to respect the regulations. Once a challenge has been created, you can face it alone or share it with the rest of the players, through the game client itself.
The real multiplayer takes advantage of the profile that is filled out at the first activation, indicating the nickname and nationality. The proposed challenges are different, including team or fleet battles, all clearly indicated by the servers and whose rankings, worldwide or local, can be consulted at any time.
Finally, the MediaTracker is fun, with which to film and then edit the replays of the most beautiful challenges, adding text, sounds and images.
A question of sensations
Technically we are certainly not in front of a masterpiece, but overall we have managed to obtain an honest result, which has the considerable advantage of restoring the perception of being truly on a boat.
The models of the ships and their crews are neat and detailed, with sails flapping realistically depending on the wind and character animations enjoying a certain variety. Less convincing is the sea, whose surface is too shiny, almost seems to be made of plastic, while the seabed has a certain charm, even if it loses quality as it approaches. There are several cameras, so you can check all angles, which will get wet with the splashes of water and, in principle, prove to be suitable for any context. The navigation tools have a digital-like layout and are in considerable quantity, perhaps excessive and in any case greater than that which would prevent one from being often in confusion.
Not bad even the sound, poor in music and spoken commentary but strong in credible effects, especially if you are able to listen to them with headphones.
StarForce: what a passion!
Like any good title developed by Nadeo, Virtual Skipper 5 also contains StarForce protection software. For those who are not aware of it, this program has represented, and for some still represents, a wise way to protect their work from crackers, being hardly subject to reverse engineering operations and guaranteeing the impossibility of playing online on official servers, with the copied versions of the title.
Unfortunately, the price to pay can be high, as full functionality is not guaranteed with all readers and creates some incompatibilities between the programs.
In the case covered in this review, the protection is present only in the "boxed" release, so if there are doubts or indecisions, it is always possible to use the one that can be downloaded for a fee from the official website.
- Processor: Pentium 4 1,6 GHz
- RAM: MB 256
- 3D Video Card 32 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible
- Disk space: 1.5 GB
- Processor: Pentium 4 1,6 GHz
- RAM: MB 512
- 3D Video Card 64 MB DirectX 9.0c compatible
- Disk space: 1.5 GB
- Multiplayer: LAN/56k
- Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3,4 GHz HT
- RAM: 1 GB
- Video Card: NVIDIA 7900
Particular and challenging, Virtual Skipper, is a banality but it must be said, it will appeal to enthusiasts, who will appreciate its versatility in offering a simulation structure, which can be further expanded through the many options. The America's Cup license and the new class of boats add depth to the single player game, which is however only the antechamber of multiplayer: in full Nadeo style and virtually infinite, thanks to the editor.
For all the others, a test is strongly recommended, aimed at avoiding unpleasant disappointments, especially relating to the technical aspect that is not exactly next-gen and to a learning curve that is anything but soft.
- The America's Cup and its charm
- Lots of options, in single and multiplayer
- Challenging and engaging
- Not for everyone: both the genre and the difficulty
- technically discreet
Sailing: a fascinating sporting practice, not only for its development or the means used, but for its unique ability to attract an absolutely loyal public willing to invest in their passion, so much so that the America's Cup has become the third international competitive event , for profits, preceded only by the Soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games.
Having said that, it is evident that not everyone can afford a boat with which to sail among the waves. Nadeo - already developer of the famous TrackMania - thought about putting a patch to this problem.With his Virtual Skipper, he proposes to virtualize most of the situations that can be faced by sea, obviously winking at the novices, but proposing a series with characteristics that satisfy even the most consumed sailors.
This fifth incarnation brings with it a whole new license, as can be easily guessed from the title, leaving unchanged the characteristics that have been so appreciated in the past.