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At first, I thought this game would just be a shameless attempt to cash-in on London 2012, but it's actually one of the best party or multi player games I've played and it is the best athletics game I've ever played.
The sheer depth of events and sports you can take part in is great value for money straight away, any event you can think of is here. To add to this, most of the events have been carefully created so that the rhythm and button presses needed make complete sense in terms of the actions your athlete is making on screen. If you enjoy athletics or rhythm games you will love this. Most of the events are easy to learn but difficult to master which is the perfect learning curve, as it allows anyone of any age to play and have fun but there is also enough depth there to allow for the more talented player to still get life out of the game even when they are grabbing gold in most of the events. As there are various different skills required depending on the event you are performing in.
Once you have exhausted the single player events, there is also the option to go online and compete with everyone around the World and aim to be the Usain Bolt of London 2012. Great fun!
How has this not been reviewed yet? The game version of the biggest sporting event seen on our shores since the 1996 Euro's!
I've only dipped in and out of this game, and mainly the multiplayer, but I'll have a bash at reviewing it anyway.
The development of the London: 2012 game was taken on by Sega in 2011.
As they have good form in this arena (framework already in place for Sonic Olympics etc), many expected good things.
They didn't really get them sadly.
These game compendiums have never been up to much. I don't remember getting much fun out of one since California Games on Nintendo's NES (ahh, my first console), and even then I remember being rather baffled as to the point of 'Footbag'.
This one looks as thought it'll pack a decent punch from the look of the front cover, which shows athletes warming up for and taking part in a range of events, all of which are playable in the game.
Indeed, there are a claimed 35 events for us to try our hand and take the gold for our home nation, although most of them follow the same themes (there are five swimming events, three running distances etc).
The events fall into the following categories;
Aquatic (diving and swimming), Track & Field (Running, Hurdles, Discus/Javelin/Shot-put throw, Long Jump and Triple Jump), Archery (individual and team target shoot), Shooting (obvious), Gymnastic (Vault and Trampoline) and finally 'Other', which comprises of the oddments that don't fall under other categories (Weights, cycling, canoe, rowing, table tennis...)
Anyone who has played one of these games before will know it's basically what we call a button basher. That means most events are won by tapping a series of buttons faster than anyone else! In this case though, they have refined the system so that in events requiring more endurance (400m sprint for example) there is a speed meter with an optimum pace to push the buttons. Too slow and you'll jog along leisurely, but too fast and you'll leave the blocks like Mo Farah but be out of puff before you're halfway round the track. The meter had to be kept in the optimum green section, which is a challenge and takes some mastering.
The events in which you have to aim all use the analogue sticks. Usually we'll have to gauge wind speed as well as distance (Archery), then aim with the analogue stick as we shoot with the buttons. Again, it takes some mastering but once you've found the bullseye you'll rarely miss.
My absolute favourite event was the rowing. To repeat myself, it takes some getting used to, but this one is a real treat once mastered. We use the analogue sticks as well as the trigger buttons (the ones on top of the pad) to dip the oars into the water and pull them through. It's an ingenious use of the pad which to my knowledge has never been done in any other game.
Sadly, the gymnastic and diving events were dull and not up to the standard of the rest of the game. They used a very basic control concept which is essentially pushing the right buttons as they appear on screen to make our character perform a routine, the same way a dance game works. (In fact, as an afterthought it might have been more fun with a dance mat, not sure if it'd be compatible). Points are deducted for mis-steps and being too slow on the buttons. A good test of reflexes I suppose but nothing cutting edge, it was pretty boring.
The controls for the triple jump frankly baffled me. I have never won a medal in this event so if anyone has any tips, PM me please! Others were similarly awkward, like the shot and discuss events where I needed an extra hand in order to control power, direction and height. :-(
The main downfall of these Olympic games and others of their ilk is that too much is squeezed in by necessity.
In a good sports compilation, programmers could easily squeeze in 10 or 12 different events which are playable, up to date graphically, engrossing and that actually lead somewhere. Progressive levels for example. When you're pushing 30-40 events into one compilation, they are always going to feel like sub-standard mini-games.
This is what we're left with here.
At least half of the events are good. Playable and fun, if not quite the stuff of legend. The other half are barely borderline. The Gymnastic events especially feel like they have been shoved in as an afterthought.
This game is one of the best multi-player experiences about.
Get a few mates round and load this up and it will be a total entertainment experience for the entire duration of your night in. There are events which encompass speed and frantic button bashing, others which require skill, thought and patience. It's a nice little challenge along with being competitive and fun.
The game is compatible with Kinect (an interactive Nintendo Wii style motion sensor gadget for the x-box 360), and unfortunately I don't have one. I dare say it'd improve the multiplayer experience further, though I can't see it vastly changing the solo game.
There aren't many game variations, basically you pick a country to represent and set about the events. Although there are training and practice options available, I find it much better to just get stuck in as the easier settings offer tutorials along the way regardless.
So, in summation this is a good game overall, but I don't think it's one that you'll get more than a week or so of enjoyment out of if you're flying solo.
If you regularly have the boys round (or the girls!) for a few drinks and a game night then this isn't just recommended, it's near essential!
I've only played this on the X-Box 360, but I bet it's more fun as an interactive experience on the Nintendo Wii to be fair.
Of course, if you can stretch to it I'd still recommend California Games on the NES over this.
Game of Footbag anyone?