With the high profile of recent America’s cup it seems this title would have greater appeal than would normally be expected from a game about sailing. With all the recent hype, it’s hard for anyone to ignore the victories and losses of Team New Zealand as NZ took on the world and sealed the victory of the Louis Vuitton Cup then lost to Alinghi in the America’s cup.
Now, you too can experience the thrills and tingling speed of America’s cup racing in the comfort of your own home, all without the inconvenience of getting wet or spending millions of dollars on your own syndicate! Well, ok, maybe tingling speed is a slight over statement because it is boat racing after all, but what 32nd America’s cup does offer is a good simulator for beginners and expert sailors alike.
The graphics are great particularly the water, which looks fantastic, a good thing too considering there is plenty of water in this game.
One of the only disappointments is the detail in the Auckland map that falls a little flat in comparison to other locations around the world. The harbour bridge is conspicuously absent and apart from the sky tower, there is very little else to distinguish it as Auckland.
Anyone new to the Virtual Skipper games or sailing in general can learn the basics through the tutorial which although long is a little simplistic. It runs as a series of sailing challenges headed by a static instruction screen displaying new information and challenges.
There are only four boating classes on offer; America’s cup class, Offshore racer, Melges 24, and the Trimaran Open 60. Each class has their own events spread across the 14 water courses around the world. The jewel in the crown though is the Americas cup itself, offering the full 2007 regatta complete with fully playable licensed boats and syndicates.
On the easiest setting, most of the tactical information is handled for the player. Wind direction is indicated by a rotating arrow that changes colour when your boat is heading on the optimum angle.
Playing with the assistance turned on is fun while learning but soon becomes a little too easy and repetitive. Although the AI is fairly competent it soon starts to fall short once the tactics are mastered, causing races to become a little boring.
Full multi-player is also supported via LAN or Internet so you can find the nearest Swiss player and challenge them to a grudge match if you feel that way inclined. The online component is very slick and easy to use and offers a vast ranking system with ladders ranging from the top players in New Zealand to top countries in the world.
The game also comes with a course editor which is very easy to use, giving you the ability to whip up a new course on any of the 14 map locations around the world.
32nd America’s Cup is a solid, polished yachting simulator that can be enjoyed by anyone from casual gamers to the serious sailor.