Ahead of London 2012 we have a look at the official Olympics game to see whether it deserves a spot on the winners podium.
The Olympics are one of the most emotional sports tournaments in the world, with teams from around the world competing for glory across a mind numbing selection of events. I have played a host of previous Olympic games before and one thing is apparent across all of them, the sheer magic of the Olympics manages to make even the most flawed game fun. Sounds a bit pessimistic I suppose, but I meant it in a good way… If you have a look at other high profile sports titles like FIFA, Madden and NHL you have huge investments and a massive amount of time and resources poured into these games. When it comes to less popular gaming titles like Rugby and Olympics they are just not on the same page. Having said that, what Olympics games have managed in the past and indeed with this installment is create a game that is FUN to play.
Story / Career
Well not much in the way of story, but the Olympic opening ceremony, the detailed stadiums and the commentary for London 2012 really provide a nice immersive environment that gives you that awesome feeling of participating at the world’s greatest athletic event. So from that perspective it’s hard to beat. While there are a huge amount of events to participate in there is a serious lack of a career mode. It would have been great to see some form of athletic career mode here with an athlete that you take from training all the way through to compete on the world stage.
The design of the game and menus is tied directly to the London 2012 Olympic logo (unfortunately) and brings with it a rather in your face selection of bright pinks and yellows. This takes a bit of getting used to, but contributes to the overall effect. The in game graphics are pretty decent for a title like this and by far the best for any previous Olympics game. The stadiums and crowds are rendered quite nicely and athlete movement is pretty accurate. In fact the graphics exceeded our expectations, a nice surprise indeed. Nothing that is going to make you drool but it does enough keep your attention and get you immersed in the gameplay.
First up we have to talk about the controls. We reviewed the PC version of the game and were greeted with the fact that an Xbox controller was recommended. Ah okay. The problem is that if you don’t happen to have an Xbox controller for your PC you can’t change the control scheme and have to use the associated keys – i.e. the A, B, X, Y keys as per the Xbox which makes no sense when using a keyboard! Come on now Sega, could you seriously not have taken the time to add some normal keyboard controls for the PC version? You don’t even get the option to reassign keys. (So if you are thinking of buying this game, you should definitely opt for the PS3 or Xbox 360 version).
Once you are past the control debacle, the gameplay is actually well refined. Gone are the button mashing days of the past where you had to smash your keyboard/controller. In this game an element of control and timing are necessary, i.e. keeping your meter within a specified range in order to achieve maximum power/speed. This varies across the different events but all in all it provides challenging gameplay that will keep you coming back for more. Each event has a slightly different technique you need to master.
One of the key aspects to the game is the concept of achieving an Olympic / World Record or even just a personal best and then seeing if you friends can beat it through multiplayer. This is what true Olympic spirit is about and the competitive nature definitely gives the game legs, you will be wanting to keep trying until you are sure that you have competed at your ultimate best.