Olympic video games have had a very spotted history especially with the last entry, Vancouver 2010 which garnered very negative reviews and was genrally ill-perceived. Sega is here this year with the London 2012 Summer Games. Can they come out with a better effort than Eurocom did in 2010 or is it better to just leave this Olympic game on the shelf?
The last Olympic title that I played was 12 years ago now on the original PlayStation and that was Sydney 2000. For whatever reason, that game provided my friends and I hours of enjoyment on trying to better one another. That’s the spirit of an Olympic video game and London 2012 plays to that very well with a wide range of events and a cool feature that tracks which nation is on top online. Despite this, the game still has its flaws.
In a game featuring over 40 different events, it’s only fitting that some events will come off better than others. Sega did a good job trying to include a broad range of events and an even broader range of ways to play. Most are button mashers, quick-time events, and altering from button to button but, regardless of that there’s still enough diversity to keep you busy for a while.
Track events are really different than in the other games that we’ve come to know. No longer are you mashing the button trying to go as fast as you can, there’s more of a strategy this time. The idea is to mash a meter to keep it green but, if you go over into the red, your player slows up and you have a tough time regaining your position. This would be a good idea in the 200m and 400m (which has another energy bar as well) where it didn’t serve to be much of a problem but, in the 100m it’s nearly impossible to get it right. There’s such small margin for error and you have to be so perfect that it becomes a nuisance. Straight button-mashing would have been much better in that situation but, good job on Sega’s part for trying a different control scheme, I would still rather the new one for the other two types of races which means they did something right there.
The rest of the stadium events are much more difficult than the simple button-mashing and stamina bar of the track events. Most of these events like Triple Jump, Javelin, Shot Put, and High Jump require you to aim the trajectory with your analog stick which can prove frustrating at times, especially for Triple Jump which requires 3 flicks of the analog stick and a button press. Most of these events are one shot deals which mean that if you screw up once, it’s over and you have to re-do the whole thing to have a better one which becomes a real problem. The control scheme for these events, while very different, doesn’t serve up any fun and is generally one of the games blemishes.
Swimming events were fairly good being a mix of button-mashing and button-alternating. It’s all about tempo and while some events have a prompt, most you have to rely on your own timing to complete the event in the best possible time. Sometimes it seems like you’re doing great in a race and the other swimmers just pull away from you in the last quarter which can be really frustrating. Diving and gymnastics prove to be simple quick time events involving you picking a routine to carry out with button presses with the momentum handled automatically. They’re alright but, rather boring compared to some of the other events.
The shooting events were very well implemented with Skeet, Pistol, and Archery. The Skeet Shooting starts off kind of bland and becomes to easy however. The rapid fire pistol event is a test in frustration at times but, is very satisfying when you manage to get a bunch of bullseyes in just seconds. Archery is greatly done with the wind being your big opponent, the control felt really good here as it really gave you a good sense of just how far over you had to compensate for the wind.
I had some of the best times in the game playing Table Tennis of all things. At first the controls seem clunky and non-responsive but, when you start getting into rallies and coming back from deficits, that’s when it really shines. The boating sports, rowing and kayaking were decently enjoyable with fluid motions and great control schemes. There’s nothing like pulling past your opponent right at the finish line.
The Olympic Games mode is the career mode and is alright if you’re just looking for something to do however, there isn’t any real progression and it’s more or less try and get the most gold medals.You qualify in the morning and go to the Finals in the afternoon. You’ll get some good commentary on the events that doesn’t feel too repetitive and some nice replay videos. The medal ceremony after each Finals event is a good touch too along with each country’s national anthem. You can customize your country’s athletes and rename them but, realistically there isn’t much meat in the Olympic Games mode.
Multiplayer consists of local and online with the player being asked for a country to represent in a worldwide leaderboard. PlayStation Move support is limited to 13 events and players will most likely prefer the standard controller rather than Move but, it’s nice to have the option. The character models are fairly good and the areas are vibrant and colourful and the crowd in energetic and provides good feedback.
Overall, London 2012 is a good Olympic video game, not great, but good. It’s not going to be something that’s played for a long period of time but, if you have a few buddies over and want something to have a little fun with than this is more than enough to keep you occupied for a decent amount of time. There’s nothing mind-blowing here but, it’s a good effort from Sega Studios Australia.
A copy of this game was provided to Find Your Inner Geek by the publisher for review purposes. London 2012: The Official Video Game is available now on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360 for $49.99 USD.