I must say that Olympic fever has mostly passed me by. Why? Well, I for one find it hard to get excited for a British event which is will be over in the blink of an eye. Our country is spending out a ridiculous amount of cash to host these events, cash that would be better spent elsewhere, such as on healthcare or sorting out ordinary families need for housing, rather than on new Olympic lanes for London and comfy seats in the brand new Olympic Stadium for the bigwigs. But anyway, that’s the Olympics and we should all be grateful that the UK is hosting it apparently.
If you are perhaps not as cynical as me, then you’ll probably be looking forward to the Olympics and given that you are reading this, then you are so much in the spirit of things that you’re looking forward to the video game based on this very event. SEGA has been working on the official game for three years, so in this respect you can expect some level of polish and practically every event you can imagine, but is this the reality?
When you start up the game things seem promising enough. 40 plus individual events are included, each of which are divided by disciplines such as track, field, swimming, diving, shooting, archery, gym and oddly enough, Other Events. Each event is controlled by a mixture of rhythmic button-bashing, left and right shoulder buttons and/or by using the left and right sticks. The controls seem to be simple enough to get to grips with, although for those struggling a tutorial at the beginning of each event will guide you in their use via on-screen prompts. You can then start the event itself and give it a go for yourself.
Anyone who has played old style Track & Field games will probably be expecting sore fingers when it comes to these events, however that approach has been toned down a little. While you still bash the buttons to run, you’ll need to control your speed via a meter; this means that running too fast will overfill the meter, so bashing the buttons is more about rhythm than speed. This approach is taken for most of the track events, such as long jump, javelin etc, with the only difference being that these more complex events will throw in the use of the shoulder buttons or sticks. It works well, although it’s hardly ground-breaking or very exciting for that matter.
Other events are decent enough. Shooting is always exciting, while the swimming challenges thanks to its emphasis on rhythm rather than the bashing of buttons. Table Tennis is also good fun, being easy to use and satisfying to play. There is also Beach Volleyball, Cycling, Weightlifting, Gymnastics and other sports, most of which are a mixed bag of good and mediocre.
Although there are various modes to play through within London 2012 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games, the main campaign is obviously what it’s all about. This takes the shape of qualifying events, followed by a final in which you can win your athlete a medal. Featuring some decent commentary from BBC’s Seth Bennett and ex-athlete Allison Curbishley, as well as decent intros and outros, this means that the atmosphere is at least built up to premium levels.
You’ll work your way through each event, trying your best to build up a tally of medals for your country, trying to beat personal bests and leaderboard scores, as well as trying to make your mark on the “National Pride” counter, which takes all the medals achieved globally for each country and ranks them accordingly. As you play the game will count up your medals, meaning that you may even be able to get Britain off the foot of the table, which would be an achievement in itself.
Outside of the main events are various other modes. Party mode for instance, allows a minimum of two players to take on a set amount of challenges, which if successful will then present you with more. There is also an Events mode which allows you to tailor your Olympic experience and of course, there is an Online mode, which will allow you to take on people from all over the world. Unfortunately I couldn’t test out the latter, since there seems to be a lack of budding Olympians online at the time of writing, but I’d expect this to be popular, especially when the event kicks off for real.
Finally, the game also supports Move and Kinect. Given that we tested out the PS3 version, we can happily report that Move works well enough. Motion controls are nothing ground-breaking, but sports such as Table Tennis and Archery do seem to have an added edge when using Move.
On the presentation side of things, the look of London 2012 is professional enough. There is a broadcast quality feel to it all, with athletes showing the strain and emotion of competing for a medal. It’s not exactly breaking new ground in the looks department, but if nothing else, at least you’ll get to see what the inside of the Olympic stadium will look like, which is more than can be said for most residents of the UK.
It’s difficult to review a game based on the Olympics when you have as much enthusiasm about the upcoming event as you do for going to the dentist. Saying that though, SEGA seems to have done a decent enough job of replicating the experience for those who prefer the less strenuous activity of sitting in front of a TV screen with a control pad. Like I say, London 2012 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games probably won’t win any medals, but at least it tried its best.
Rating: Average Review Policy (version tested: PS3)
You can order London 2012 – The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games from ShopTo here.