Virtual Skipper 4 PC Review - -

Gameplay 8.0
Graphics 8.0
Sound 8.0
Value 8.0
Distributor: QVS
Review Date:
February 2005
Anthony Luscombe


Virtual Skipper 4

For all those persons out there who either love to race yachts or would love to but cannot afford a boat here is the game to help. Virtual Skipper 4 allows the gamer to take the helm of 4 different classes of yachts and the ability to race in places such as Sydney Harbour, Marseilles or Rio de Janeriro. 

Virtual Skipper 4 is one of those simulation games that will appeal to those of us who are attracted to yacht racing so it will mainly appeal to a niche market as opposed to the mass market. If you happen to be amongst those interested in this type of game you will not be disappointed. What strikes you most is the level of detail to make the experience quite life like but fortunately without the seasickness and the hefty price of owning a yacht.  

The game play itself allows you to chose the level of complexity from arcade level through to full simulation. The difference being in arcade level the trimming of sails is done automatically for you, the race course is well marked and easier to navigate, and the full sailing rules are not applied which means a reduction in potential penalties.  

As mentioned earlier there a four different classes of yachts to chose from. America’s Cup Class, Melges (mono-hull, 7.5 metres), Offshore (mono-hull, 13 m) and the Open 60 Trimaran dubbed as the F1 of the sea. You are able to take a tutorial to familiarize yourself with controlling these yachts, understanding the instrumentation, the way boats react to sailing in wind and most importantly how to navigate using the plethora of views available. 

Once you are ready to get a little more serious and take on a few challenges you can try out the Campaign scenario. Here you have half a dozen or so races at each of the 12 different seascapes with different yacht classes. You will be presented with differing wind and wave conditions and also the times of the day are varied with some race times starting at night time. To top it off, you will sometimes have a fleet race with 4 yachts competing or just a tactical head to head race with one other boat and sometimes against the clock. In order to progress you must either win or pass the minimum time requirements. 

After the grounding you get through the campaign mode you are then able to build your own custom race course, set the location, the wind direction, the waves and then challenge other virtual skipper’s to a race. It appears the most of the following for this title is in Europe so you will be faced with Italian, French or Spanish competition in all likelihood. From my brief investigation into the online scene, there appears to be a virtual America’s Cup regatta being staged plus numerous other little regattas being organized by individuals that are accessible if you have a decent internet connection. 

Graphically this game played at its highest possible resolution won’t disappoint. It looks superb. The yachts, the waves movement and sounds of the wind make the experience really lifelike. Probably the only small drawback is that the sailors on board the yacht don’t always appear to be grasping whatever they are holding onto, either the helm or coffee grinders. Generally speaking you won’t take any notice of it because you are too busy watching for the wind, your course not to mention the rival yachts. What makes it superior to actual real-life sailing is that you can quickly change views from being on board, to satellite like view from atop and all 360 degrees. You are not confined to just the view you would get steering the boat which is a great advantage and makes it more easy on the eye to appreciate the details the programmers have put into this. 

Soundwise, you are in a sailing game and you get the sounds that are associated with that. The breeze coming across the sea, the sails flapping when they are not trimmed correctly, the clanging of the sails against the mast. 

As I alluded to earlier this is a game that will appeal to a certain type of gamer interested in this type of sport but if you are into yachting you will be love it. Overall a superb simulation that is both a challenge and a learning experience.   


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