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**Vancouver 2010. Xbox 360**
Vancouver 2010 is the Official game of the Winter Olympics which were held in Vancouver in 2010. I bought this game around 4 months ago when I was looking for some more "wintery "games to play as I was coming close to completing my favourite snowboarding game and I knew I was going to need a nice snowy replacement for this.
So, does Vancouver 2010 fit the bill?
Well, not really. While I do enjoy the game and I find it great fun to play I do feel that there is "something" missing as I will now explain.
After putting the game disc into your Xbox 360 console and going through all the usual manufacturer logos and Health & Safety warnings you will finally arrive at the title screen. It is at this point where I was expecting to be launched into some kind of story line about being an Olympic superstar or at least be given one of those annoying tutorials which you cannot skip as it turns out to be quite useful! But as it turned out, when you press the start button from the main menu you are swapped from menu to menu until you have selected the sports you wish to play and unless you decide to select training mode then the only tutorials offered are just at the beginning of each sport where you can press the B button to activate the tutorial. As a result of this I have quite often flicked past the tutorial and ended up having to reload the event as I had no idea what I am doing in most of them!
From the main menu you will have the choice of Training, Olympic Games, Challenges, Leaderboards, Options and Credits. So lets get the simple options out of the way first, personally I have never viewed the credits but they are there just in case you want to. The options menu gives you a chance to adjust the volumes of both the sound effect and music in the game as well as the display and control options. Leaderboards is as it sounds, a chance to compare your scores with those of your friends or if you have an Xbox Live account you can compare how you are doing with other Xbox Live players.
Beginning with the option of Training from the main menu we are about to jump into our experience of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. As with any sport you need to train hard to win that gold medal, so is this the case for Vancouver 2010?
Yes and No. Some sports in this game I find ridiculously easy and others ridiculously hard and no matter how much "training" in partake in I still cannot even come close to obtaining that shiny gold medal. For example, when I play a Snowboarding or Bobsleigh event I find them reasonably easy to complete and the controls are easy to grasp, however when I attempt something like the Downhill Ski events or even the Speed Skating I seem to have issues with tricky controls and pressing the buttons at the perfect moments, as you can imagine this soon becomes rather frustrating and ends in me swapping to a different game!
The sports featured in Vancouver 2010 are Alpine Skiing which has both men's and ladies events, Ski Jumping which is a men's only event, Freestyle Skiing which is a ladies only event, Snowboarding which is featured as men's events, Speed Skating for ladies and finally the Bobsleigh, Skeleton and Luge, these are all events which use the Bobsleigh track and in this game they are all featured as men's events. This is my first grumble about this game, in my opinion there appears to be only a few events available and they seem to be restricted to men or women meaning that for each event you will be playing as a different character, personally I would prefer to create one character and use the same one in each event, I feel this would create more of a challenge as the character would need a variety of traits as well as strengths and weaknesses in order to compete in each event.
Once you feel you have done enough training you are then ready to move on to the Olympic Games option, you can of course skip the training if you prefer and dive straight in, I did this but I found I was having to go back to the training in order to attempt to master some events in order to progress.
Playing the Olympic Games is almost like playing the training mode, the only difference is that the Olympic Games offer you medals and achievements for doing well. When you select Olympic Games you are given the chance to choose your country and then you can choose which events you wish to take part in. This is the part of the game which I feel is a bit of a let down. In the past I have played the Nintendo Wii version of this game featuring Mario and Sonic and on that version there is a kind of story mode where you have to compete in predetermined events on a day to day basis with some training mixed in and random challenges thrown at you. This is the kind of thing I would have liked to have seen in the Xbox 360 version of the game, obviously not with Mario and Sonic as this is the "human" version of the game, but definitely with some kind of story or at least order to the events rather than having to pick and choose your own as I feel this takes some of the enjoyment and challenges from the game and therefore makes it that little bit less enjoyable.
The Olympic Games option can also be played in multiplayer mode either on one console with 2 controllers or on Xbox Live however I have not done this as there never seems to be anyone online to play it with and non of my friends have this game. To my knowledge though the servers for the game are still working so online play would be possible if you know someone else with the game.
The final play option for Vancouver 2010 is the Challenge Mountains. In this area you will find 3 mountains, Easy, Intermediate and Advanced. Each mountain consists of 10 Challenges which you need to complete in order to unlock the next mountain. The challenges are more fun orientated than the Olympic Games and they are my favourite part of the game. Challenges can be anything from a speed challenge or a simple Ski or Snowboard race to Downhill skiing where you need to hit or avoid as many of the snowmen as possible. There are also challenges which involve winning a race with reversed controls or gaining as much Air Time as you possibly can. I prefer these to the proper Olympic Games as they have much more of a fun element to them and I do still feel let down by the main story of the Olympic Games.
**Graphics & Sound**
The graphics in Vancouver 2010 are generally really good. All of the sports play smoothly and so far I have experienced no glitchy moments. The scenery looks reasonably realistic however in comparison to newer games there is quite a big difference but for the time that the game was released I would say the graphics are of a pretty decent quality and I have no complaints.
The sound in the game is also good. The menu screens are filled with a nice upbeat and purely instrumental soundtrack which I find easy to listen to and although it is quite repetitive it isn't really that irritating. The sound effects during the sports are also quite good, the noise of the snow crunching under the snowboards and ski's is definitely realistic and I would say the ice skating sound effects are reasonably realistic but maybe emphasised a little too much. Other sports such as Bobsleigh and Skeleton I have never tried but they do sound how I would imagine travelling at high speed along a slippery track would be... although I would probably be screaming all the way down if I tried those sports!
**Xbox 360 Achievements**
As with the majority of Xbox 360 games, Vancouver 2010 has Achievements which you can earn to improve your Gamerscore. There are a total of 50 achievements in this title worth a total of 1000 Gamerscore, most of them are unlocked by winning medals in events or completing challenges throughout the game.
**Price & Availability**
I bought my copy of Vancouver 2010 from Amazon for around £3 plus postage and packaging around 4 months ago. It is currently on there from £1.99 plus P&P. CEX are selling it for £3 and it appears to be on eBay starting from 99p in auctions.
Despite my grumbles about Vancouver 2010 I do still enjoy playing it, especially the Challenges option. For the price that it is available for I would recommend buying it as it is a pretty decent game if you are into your winter sports. I would have liked to see some more events available or at least the option to pick and choose your character. I will only be awarding it 3 out of 5 stars as I feel that the lack of a story mode in the Olympic Games option really lets this game down and also the controls for some of the sports are very hard to get to grips with even with the settings bumped down to the easy setting.
Overall this is a generally enjoyable game and it comes at a decent price. I think if I had paid full price for this when it was released then I would have been very disappointed but I didn't so I am only a little disappointed.
3 out of 5 stars from me :)
Thanks for reading :)