February 07, 2010
The Winter Olympics are usually overshadowed by the far flashier and more crowd-friendly summer equivalent, and the same is often true in the gaming world. The combination of skis and skates has never made for a truly satisfying game (outside of the NHL series), so can SEGA finally achieve what others have failed to do? With a novel approach, a mixed bag of events and an intriguing first person viewpoint, it seems they might be on the right track. Will it take the Gold or end up with more mockery than Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards himself (who sadly does not appear in this game – gutted)?
Vancouver 2010 follows the tradition of all Olympic games that have come before it, in that it offers a range of events that can be played at any time or in any order. All you have to do is beat either your computer rivals or any human players who feel up to opposing you. Seems fairly simple and that is part of the problem really.
With fourteen events on offer, ranging from bobsledding to ski jumping, and slalom to speed skating, there should be something for everyone. On the plus side there has been a shift away from simply bashing buttons - and no doubt wrecking your pad - in order to emerge triumphant. Instead the events tend to rely on more subtle control using the analogue sticks and shoulder buttons, which is all well and good. Some events seem a bit more unbalanced than others, with the controls proving a touch tricky to grasp until you have had a fair amount of practice. While the game should appear to be challenging, there is no point to stray away from having fun.
The problem is that none of the events seem to tie together, as you just play them as one off events rather than as one big competition. So the only satisfaction you can gain is in beating the computer or setting a new best time – which are fleeting triumphs at best. Once you have played through and mastered each event, there is really nothing else to occupy your mind. You can always take in the sights as the graphics are fairly detailed and the first person view does make things more interesting as the motion blur, heart beat and visual effects kick in, but nothing really stands out. The same is also true of the soundtrack which really does not do much to stir your Olympic spirit. It is at this point that the challenge mode comes to the rescue.
Thankfully the challenge mode provides the impetuous and fun that the regular events seem to be lacking. Here at least you have a sense of purpose and urgency, with specific goals and tasks to accomplish. It also takes the regular events and adds a sense of fun, like having to lap your opponents or smash through snowmen to get enough time to finish a course. There are three levels - or mountains if you prefer - of events and they increase in difficulty as you progress. At times some of them do feel a touch unfair due to them requiring pretty much perfection in order to succeed, but they do extend the lifespan of the game beyond mere minutes and provide for some gruelling entertainment.
Should you feel good enough, and even then you probably won't be, then you can take your skills online and challenge the rest of the world. Here you can amass medals for your country of choice and it gives you a nice sense of satisfaction to take home the Gold against something other than AI competitors. The real problem here is that you will not get that golden feeling very often, as some of the players are insanely good. Unless you are prepared to lose countless hours of your life achieving perfection then you may want to give it a miss.
Looking at the achievements really does not offer much in the way of surprises, as you will rack up the points by getting gold medals in all of the events on offer. There are also a smattering of online tasks to occupy your mind plus a whole bunch of challenges. At least with the challenges you have a whiff of originality, though you will also find that more than a few of these also offer the greatest frustration too – reliant as they are upon absolute perfection. If you have the patience then this is a highly attainable one thousand points, though you may well require a boosting partner for online success due to the almost unreal skills some people possess.
Overall this game is somewhat of a disappointment. The first person viewpoint is fun, but not really game changing and the events are all over and done with in a matter of minutes. While the controls for each event are simple to pick up, they do seem more unforgiving at times, which can be the difference between a good time and a bad one. Once you have breezed through all of the events and maybe played the odd challenge or two, then the game really does start to overstay its welcome. By all means rent it for a night of mindless fun, but after that you will have experienced everything this title has to offer.
Nothing stellar as the soundtrack tends to get lost in the background, plus the effects are nothing to write home about either.
Decent visuals and the first person mode adds an impressive level of immersion to the events. Still, things never last long enough for you to really take in the view.
Gone are the days of button bashing and the game is all the better for it, however, the events are still too short and repetitive to keep you engrossed for long.
As an Olympic game it really does not hold together and just feels like an assortment of mini games than an actual competition.
A decent list and the challenge specific tasks make things interesting for a while. Although, as with any game of this genre, they can soon get frustrating due to the level of perfection required at times.
This game is fun for a short while but has a real dearth of long term appeal. The events are too few and far between, and are over all too soon, not to mention that once you have mastered them there is zero impetus to go back and play them again. This is ideal rental fodder to play with some friends, but it is hardly likely to grab your attention for long.