Game review of version 0.7.2.
Warning: This is a review of an incomplete game. It might not apply fully for later versions, so keep this in mind!
This game is very old. Yet I think this one is a classic among free software games. I am glad to see it being under development (again).
The game is the perfect “coffee break” game, nice if you have a few minutes to spare.
The gameplay itself works pretty nicely and is very simple. It's what you expect from this kind of game: You race down a hill, collect herrings and try to get down as fast as you can. There are several terrain types which affect your speed. In some tracks you will go down at crazy speeds and jump over ramps. That's really all to to tell about the gameplay, really.
There are 46 downhill tracks in two level sets which is a good number. Some tracks are easy and slow, a few tracks are just absolutely nuts and very fast.
The “default” tracks are good, some of the “extras” tracks, too. But some “extras“ tracks look pretty amateurish. I have found one track in “extras” which is broken. Probably this “extras” level set includes community contributions, so it shouldn't be taken too serious, I suppose.
ETR features two simple cups. The cups are the biggest disappointment of ETR, because there are only so few of them. And those two are also pretty short. Of the 46 tracks in total, only 5 are actually used in a cup. The other tracks can only be played in training mode.
The cups system itself, however, seems to be rather interesting. Each cup is a series of tracks you have to complete. Each has a time and herring requirement at 3 difficulty levels (gold/silver/bronze, I suppose). You also start each cup with several “lifes”. If you win a track, you gain 1 or 2 extra lives, depending on how well you did. If you failed to meet the lowest requirements, you lose a life and have to try the same track again, until you run out of lifes. If you “survived” until the end of a cup, you win the cup at a level between 1-3, depending on how many lives you had at the end.
ETR desperately needs more cups.
Currently, ETR's main game mode is the Training mode where you just compete for the highscore, since there are so few cups.
I would like it if ETR may feature some other game modes in the future, for example, a slalom mode. Or maybe different herring positions on the same tracks to keep things interesting.
Overall, ETR is lacking in things which keeps you engaged as a player for a longer time. Currently, ETR is “just” a mere coffee break game. It works very nicely as such. But ETR is at the moment not really something for completionits like me because of the lack of preset challenges.
The controls are slightly annoying to use. The controls can not be configured. The main game controls are okay and are very simple to grasp. Some annoying things remain: Pressing [Esc] always aborts the course, there is no pause menu (but it is planned), only a simple pause mode. After finishing a track, there is a brief animation for some tracks, it can't be skipped, at least for a brief moment.
Some nice extra features: 5 player models, different day times, wind and snow.
ETR has been translated into a few languages but this feature is currently partially broken, some characters are displayed incorrectly.
ETR also has some strange features which somehow ended up in the game but there is no clear reason why. For instance, you can do some sort of “barrel roll” or backflip with Tux, but this has no gameplay relevance. There is also the possibility to reset Tux and back off a few meters. This kinds feels like cheating, since it makes it easier to collect herrings. I requested to remove this feature. You can also mirror tracks but I see no point in this.
Graphics and sounds
The graphics are very simplistic. It's basically just ice, mud and snow textures. The trees and bushes are only using 2D textures, there aren't even proper 3D meshes.
Most notably would be Tux, you can clearly see how simple the Tux model was made, it looks like a couple of ellipsoid stuck together. Tux is kinda cute, but very simplistic. So Tux (and the other characters) need a remodelling.
There are 4 other player models, but I like Tux the most.
I do not have much to say about sound and music. it is simple and not distracting and more or less fits the general “feel” of the game.