London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games
Sega brings us the official games of the games. Have they managed to capture the olympic spirit in this one?
If you're anything like us the Olympics is more about sitting down in a couch being glued to the TV set and eating crisps than about actual physical endeavours. And as luck would have it Sega have us catered to with a game that requires more brain and quick fingers than bulging muscles and athletic prowess.
And if you're not completely allergic to physical exercise, you can partake in 13 party games designed for Kinect and Move with up to three friends, covering events like the javelin throw, cycling, and the 100 metre sprint. In most cases the Kinect events come across as well crafted and natural. When sprinting you move your legs and arms to run, the only difference here is that you run on the spot.
The same principle is true of hurdles, with the addition of jumping to clear the hurdles - something that will quickly exhaust you. You also have to find a sweet spot when you run in order not to run out of stamina. Great events that you'll want to return to.
Unfortunately there are also events that are more frustrating than they are entertaining as your movements aren't registered correctly. This is true for beach volleyball. As the barely dressed athletes stare at their feet when they're meant to strike the ball with their arms it makes our blood boil - and the same goes for rowing where we can wave our arms like humming birds flap their wings without moving an inch on the water.
When you run out of breath it's a good time to dive into the campaign - that's completely devoid of motion controls.
The idea is that you guide a nation through the Olympic Games. You pick a nation out of 36 available, and you can then adjust their squad to include the events you fancy partaking in to a limited extent. You can tailor the looks of the athletes to some extent, a dozen or so stereotypes per event, and you can name the characters. The game hasn't licensed all the actual athletes for obvious reasons (it would cost a fortune), but you should feel free to name whatever you want. Want to go with the actual Olympic squad or perhaps a selection of cheaters from past years - or maybe something more exotic.
We ended up picking Japan, and tried to make the land of the rising sun the most successful nation at the greatest stage of sports. Soon after the first day of events kick off, as with the following days we pick two events to compete in, but before the medals are handed out, there is the qualification round to consider - once you've qualified you'll get to compete for medals in the finals.
Most events are played out through a series of quick time events, and in some cases, such as gymnastics they will really put you to the test. The analogue sticks are also used at times, such as in archery where the right stick is used to pull the string back, while you aim with the left one. You also need to compensate for the wind. Sadly, there is no Kinect support here, which is a bit of a shame.
A nice detail is how the commentators make little remarks that are tied to the nation of your choice of nation and sport. Subsequently we learnt that Japan won an archery medal a couple of games back. It helped motivate us.
As we progress through qualifications the difficulty level is raised significantly in all events. If you want the gold medal in archery it's going to take a fair amount of practice. In other events we failed due to the nature of the events. Our discus throws land out of bounds if we don't release the disc at the correct angle. At other times we fail as we overestimate our own abilities, putting on too much weight in the heavy lift, if you don't play tactically sound you will end up watching the medal ceremony from the sidelines.
Naturally, this makes the moment on top of the podium all the more triumphant. With your medal you're also given some information on how you're doing compared to other players all over the world, and from there you go on to the next day of events.
Unfortunately it grows a bit boring with time, and multiplayer doesn't really solve this. There are several disciplines, such as long jump and pole vault, where you make your efforts, and then you just find out how the others did at the end when the results are revealed.
London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games offers a quality experience. It features sold graphics, with one or two hiccups here and there, and it's a game that grows better as it is played with friends. It is not an experience without flaws, however, so if you've got a chance to make it to the real games - take it!
- System:PC, PS3, Xbox 360
- Developer:Sega Studios Australia
- Offline players:1-4
- Release date:29 June 2012
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