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Simon Bull, London24 editor
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Here are a few reasons why you might have already got the official London 2012 video game, or be thinking about getting it.
1. Even though it’s now the eve of the Olympics you can’t wait for the sporting action to begin, even if it’s only in video game form.
2. Somehow you’ve sensationally and scandalously been overlooked by the Team GB selectors and you are determined to prove your sporting worth, again even if it’s only in video game form. A 9.5sec 100m run? Ha, take that stupid selectors.
3. If you’re aged somewhere in your late 30s or 40s you will have fond childhood memories of Daley Thompson’s Decathlon from the halcyon days of the ZX Spectrum, and you’ll have a yearning for a new multi-event sports video game
4. You’re an ultra-competitive person. Video games aren’t casual fun to you - they are a chance to impose your superiority over everyone. The sight of your small children weeping as you ungraciously celebrate victory over them does not worry you.
5. You’re a sucker for any official tie-in whenever a major event comes along.
If one or more of these things applies to you, the London 2012 video game is a worthwhile purchase
When you get it home you’ll find 45 events waiting to be played, spread across a dozen sports.
There are a lot of different things to try, and it works out pretty good value at less than £1 an event.
The events on offer include numerous track and field disciplines, as well as a diverse mix of other sports ranging from archery to weightlifting.
The selection should satisfy most players but won’t please everybody due to some notable omissions.
For instance, there are none of the fighting sports, such as boxing, wrestling and judo.
There are also very few team sports - no hockey, handball, basketball or football.
There are also no equestrian events.
With these and several other sports missing, this doesn’t quite feel like the complete Olympics package. Perhaps I’m being a little greedy, but having less than half of the total sports is a bit too selective.
Another mild criticism I’d level at the game’s creators Sega is that while the number of events is high, the variety is quite low. Where there are several events within a particular sport, there are very few differences between them in gameplay terms. In some cases, such as diving, it feels like playing multiple versions of what is effectively the same thing.
Though they are not at the spectacular or jaw-dropping level, graphics are of a good quality throughout the game. The visuals are good enough that it doesn’t take too much imagination to become immersed in the action and feel, at least to some extent, that you are really there competing for gold.
Developer: Sega Studios
Format: PS3, PC, Xbox 360 (PS3 version played)
Verdict: 7 out of 10 - A good solid effort, with lots of events to play in celebration of the London Games. Falls short of the gold metal, but worthy of bronze, maybe silver.
The various Olympic venues are very nicely represented in the game, including the main stadium, Aquatics Centre and Velodrome. There is some nice attention to detail in the scenery and backgrounds. This extends to some of the sports too, such as the way the sand is pushed around during the beach volleyball.
Sound too is good during the game, including crowd noise. Commentary from Seth Bennett and Alison Curbishley is impressively contextual, which adds to the realism, though their voices do get a little grating after a while.
Controls for the events are kept very simple throughout. For some of the events I was expecting to have some tricky button combinations to master in order to perform certain moves, but the reality here is everything is very basic and easy to get to grips with. I feel like this side of the game has been designed with younger players firmly in mind.
The controls do not vary hugely from one sport to another, and within the various sports with multiple events the controls do not change very much.
A lot of the skill in the game comes from being able to build up a good rhythm or having a good sense of timing.
In running events, the controls are not nearly as button-bashy as the aforementioned Daley Thompson classic. It’s mainly about hitting the same button, X, over and over again but the aim is not to hit it to within an inch of its life - instead you need to reach a good pace and then maintain it.
Rhythm and timing are both important in field events, where you need to perform an action at just the right moment to achieve a good height, distance or angle.
In other sports it is all about the timing. In diving and vaulting, for example, you need to press particular buttons when prompted to nail the required move.
There is a good choice of game modes, which include solo and multiplayer options both on and offline.
PlayStation Move motion control is available for a few events in a party mode, but as with other games it feels too much like an afterthought - something tacked on at the end, rather than an integral part of the game. Sony’s wand-like controller is not getting a lot of love from game makers, it seems.
To some degree it feels like the official London 2012 game is merely going through the motions, providing adequate and perfectly functional representations of some of the Olympic sports without ever really breaking into a proper sweat or setting any new standards in the sports genre.
Because of this and my earlier criticisms, it doesn’t quite achieve the gold medal.
However, it’s significantly better than many previous video games which been released to coincide with major sporting events. And it is also a lot of fun. There is a lot of enjoyment to be had here competing in the sports included, whether it’s attempting to set new personal bests on your own or battling for medals against other players.
There is certainly enough here to keep players entertained throughout the next few weeks in-between all the real-life sporting action - and that probably is the most you can expect from an Olympics-based video game.
If any of those first five reasons I gave do apply to you, this is a game worth getting.