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With every major sporting event the inevitable rash of "official products" hit the shop shelves from lunch boxes to t-shirts and of course not forgetting the official computer game as well. In a slight change to the norm however the "Official" game to accompany London 2012 is not brought to us by the masters at EA Sports, but instead is the handy work of the team at Sega. Having played the previous Olympic game, Beijing 2008 and with this one being the home Olympics it was really a no brainer that this would become part of my PS3 game collection.
What's Good About The Game?
The game actually boasts a number of positive aspects, which slightly outweigh the negatives as there are certainly a few of those too. The first thing that really stands out about London 2012 is the graphics; it looks a lot sharper than Beijing 2008 did. The detail that has gone into recreating the settings and giving the game-play an impressive aesthetic appearance has really worked well for Sega. There is a sense of realism and the settings make the game-play far more enjoyable because of these details. The colours used are sharp and vibrant making London 2012 a really enjoyable game as a result.
They also seem to have gone to a lot of effort to improve the actual game-play, gone is the tremendous effort of button bashing and in its place a more enjoyable method of control that requires a good rhythm rather than a simple pounding of the controls. The days of Daly Thompson Decathlon are gone and the developments by Sega make it a much easier game to play for longer sittings. I personally think this is an excellent development for this genre of games and by punishing players for the button pounding on London 2012 it makes victory more about skill and ability rather than speed and brawn.
It also helps considerably that the game is easy to pick up from scratch. The controls are relatively simple and this really helps to ease you in to the game play. The game also includes in excess of 45 events for the player to compete in giving it a lot of variety and particularly in multi-player mode a lot more longevity. I actually found that the multi-player mode against friends was by far the best way to play London 2012.
Not All Good Though
Of course with all of the good parts about the game there are also the disappointing elements and there are almost as many of those as there are positives. In fact the first major gripe is about the single player mode of the game. I've found that playing on your own the game doesn't seem as interesting, it loses a lot of the competitive edge that the multi-player has and I did find it a little too easy to win events in the single player mode.
There are also far too many replays that detract from the overall feel of the game, slowing the pace of the single player mode down and really making it a struggle to keep your interest on the game at hand. The single player mode is still good but I think it would be fair to say that this game really excels as a multi-player game, even if the scoreboard doesn't hold PB's, World records and Olympic Records on anything other than the main controller.
Whilst the multi-player on one console works incredibly well, the on-line multi-player option is a real let down. Now this isn't because of the actual game-play, connection or even graphic issues, it all comes down to the length of time it takes to find an event to compete in. I've heard a few people complain about this aspect of the game and even when I tried it with someone I knew both trying to compete in the same event at the same time we couldn't find each other on the system to actually compete making what could have been a great feature of the game become very disappointing.
Of course whilst there are 45 events included within the game there are also a lot missing from Road Cycling and Football to just about all of the gymnastic events. There are some good events included but I would have liked to have seen a lot more, especially when you consider the scale of the Olympics and the fact the developers have known the event list and locations of all of the events for a long time.
The Biggest Disappointment
Whilst the issues mentioned above did detract a little from the overall game-play, they certainly aren't my biggest problem with London 2012. As the "Official" game of the Olympics you would expect it to be crammed full of a who's who of Olympic Athletes from Tom Daly and Sir Chris Hoy to Usain Bolt and all of the other Athletes taking part but they aren't here. Instead you end up with Computer generated opponent names and part of the appeal of an Official Olympics game becomes lost.
Would I Recommend It
I think if I'm being honest I would only recommend the game if you were going to be playing a lot of multi-player games and weren't too bothered about the names aspect. There are a lot of events included within the game but the majority of these are over incredibly quickly and with so many sports missing the longevity of the game, particularly in single player mode, is really lost. The graphics and sounds of the game are a major plus for it but I think it needed something quite special and that really is what's missing.
It's a good game for playing with your friends every now and again but I don't think it will hold too much attention once the game sin London themselves are over in 2 weeks' time. It's a shame as the games themselves promise so much, the game is really a very middle of the road effort that looks impressive. My advice would be to rent the game and save yourself the £32.97 it would cost to buy.
Other Platforms: PC & Xbox 360
Age - 3 plus
Ever since the good old days of International Track and Field on the original PS One I have been hooked on the games related to Athletics and Olympic style events. Some incarnations have been pretty poor to say the least but button bashing games such as this have always had a place on my shelf. London 2012 has kicked off, everywhere you look are the Olympic rings and of course the Olympic game has been in my PS3 for some time! And personally, I have been enjoying it very very much indeed.
Sega have produced the game which is usually a sign that fun will be injected into the game and they have done a cracking job. Every event, every aspect and every mode is just superb and this game is endless fun whether alone or in groups. It has been a long while since I had so much fun on the PS3.
Let's start with the track events. All the usual events are here as you would like and all involved a mixture of button bashing, timing and working out angles. Some very very clever use of sticks to work out angles in throwing and jumping adds some extra skill to events and it makes it more satisfying to get it right. Obviously the 100m etc descends into button bashing but that's the point. 10 seconds of frantic breath-holding and button bashing is rarely bettered as multiplayer experience. In fact some of the events move away from button bashing and require you to work out timings to keep speed going in the zones etc. Hard to explain but it requires more skills than button bashing and is again more satisfying. Javelin is tricky and hammer throw is hard to master but this gives the game a longevity that other games like this have lacked.
Working on the track side of things, beating friends and setting records will keep you coming back and it has got a good level of challenge as I said to ensure you haven't smashed all record within a day. There is always room for improvement!
Rowing and kayaking are brilliant and it feels so natural....the controls feel fluid and the racing is satisfying. It is the best multiplayer game outside the track and makes you feel like you are controlling a real boat as daft as that sounds!
Outside of this I liked the shooting, it requires skills and consistency which means you have to concentrate. Obviously would work better with a light gun but really it suits the pad well and there are a couple of shooting events to have a go at. They have made a good effort on Table Tennis but when you compare it to the better titles out there it pails. But as part of a wider game it's a solid and fun Table Tennis title with good AI and worth trying in two player. Archery comes under the same banner and although it feels dodgy at times generally its one of the better games!
The diving relies on timing and gets frustration as missing by just one millisecond can ruin a good run, gymnastics the same and both suffer from a sharp difficulty rise and lack of fun in multiplayer. Weightlifting and Cycling are fun as well but there seems to be little imagination in both and it's a shame the cycling game wasn't more fun!
Beach Volleyball and Swimming are perhaps the weakest two events. Beach volleyball is boring and repetitive with the game being too easy to win and conquer meaning you just go through the motions. The AI is terrible and the game not complex enough to warrant a good multiplayer sessions. Swimming on the other hand is too long and too much bashing which means you get tired and bored.
The online system has been easy to use, busy and hassle free so far with plenty players and a good server to boot. The single player modes are a let down to a certain extent though as there is just a collection of events to win rather than anything solid to work your way through. But either way it's better sitting next to friends and family and battling it out! This is where the game comes to life.
How about the graphics and all round presentation? Well even though the PS3 is coming to the end of its life now the graphical output just keeps getting better. This looks stunning in HD, bright, colourful realistic and vibrant. Everything looks glorious on screen with all the official flags, logos and on screen graphics. At times it looks so graphically brilliant you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching the Olympics instead of playing it. Even when there is a lot going on slowdown is at a minimum and frame rate rarely suffers.
Just one bad aspect to name would be the lack of any sort of practice mode. They do show tutorials and give you a go but I used to enjoy practicing events instead of learning on the job so to speak. But this is just one minor quibble in a game packed with fun!
All in all this is a fantastic game for any occasion. Even ignoring the tie in to the greatest sporting event in history you still have a game which will stand the test of time. Way better than any other Olympic game for this generation of consoles or the last and great multiplayer fun!
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