When you pick up a game and find an introduction inside by that old duffer David Vine, then read on and discover that there is also a competition in it to win a trip to the Winter Olympics - only the entry date has expired - you know at once there is something a little wrong.
I mean listen to what the old duffer had to say about the biathlon: "It's like using a sledgehammer for an hour or so and then trying to throw a dart in the bull's eye."
Computer biathlon in Winter Olympiad '88 qualifies for no such glowing descriptions. At least it didn't when I played it on my Atari ST. It's just tedious.
Yes, I know the screenshots look stunning. The graphics are highly commendable - but the gameplay is practically non existent. Biathlon is supposed to take place over a long trek. You only ski through a couple of scrolling screens before you get to the firing range - then the graphics repeat themselves three times until the finishing post comes up.
Not all of the events are this bad though. In fact, some of them are quite good, like the Ski Jump, for example.
At the end of the ski ramp you press Fire to launch your skier into the air. The animation is quite effective as the skier flies through the air with his skis dangling at the ends of his legs as you struggle to balance him up for the landing. If you land the skier successfully, he glides to a halt at the bottom of the hill where are a cheering crowd are held back by a rope fence - just like the real thing.
Another fairly good event is the Bob Sled. It includes quite good 3D effects as the sleek bob hurtles through the ice tunnels. The Bob is launched by waggling the joystick. Pressing fire makes the riders jump into the bob and away they go - now it's down to you to steer as best as you can, using the fire button to slow the bob down for the bends.
Winter Olympiad wouldn't be complete without the slalom and Tynesoft have not left out this event. Time penalties are posed for every flag you hit or avoid. Again the fire button centres the skier and can also be used for adding speed as you approach the final push towards the finishing line.
The Downhill ski-ing event is quite imaginative as it features two views of the slope. The main picture shows you skier negotiating the course. At the bottom right of the screen, there is also a goggles-eye view of the trees and ground rushing towards you. It is possible to complete the downhill by just looking through the goggles. A nice touch, this.
A lot of effort has gone into Winter Olympiad '88. It comes on two disks and has stacks of option. You are also treated to an opening ceremony and can choose your favourite country from a comprehensive list of choices.
Despite all this, I cannot recommend the game. The pretty graphics do not compensate from a basic lack of gameplay. If you are seriously in the market for a winter sports game for your ST then I would suggest you check out Epyx/US Gold's Winter Games.