The words ‘official video game’ always burst my bubble. Official video games are typically made as an afterthought, to accompany the big brouhaha that organisers want to make the most of. So when we received London 2012, the official video game for this year’s Olympics, we weren’t too impressed.
That is, until we slotted it into our Xbox 360 and took it for a spin.
London 2012 embodies the Olympic spirit. It comes with a nifty opening ceremony and hordes of cheering spectators who go berserk when you win. Just like in the Olympics, its got your country of choice splashed on the track lane you’re in; it’s got a gun; it’s got an electronic timer your athlete can pose against. It’s got replay videos – just like you’d see on television! Heck, you can even see the runners’ finely defined musculature.
When it comes to realism, London 2012 is one game that’s got it down pat. I cannot begin to describe the elation that’s unconsciously evoked in you when you place first and the crowd goes wild. Players can also choose from over 30 countries to represent, and are given very mild customisation options: you get to change your athletes’ faces (full head options only) and hair colours.
Apart from the true-to-life Olympic experience that London 2012 offers, it’s also clear that developers Sega Studios Australia have put some thought into the game mechanics.
Most games surrounding track and field events are button mashers. Here in London 2012, you still mash buttons, but have to do it with a little more finesse. Depending on the event you participate in, you even have to hit more than just the A button!
Success in London 2012 is dependent on two things: the pace at which you mash buttons, and the precision with which you flick your analog sticks. Certain straightforward events, like the 200m sprint, have you hitting the A button at a specific pace in order to increase your speed. Others, like the hammer or javelin events, have you flicking the analog stick at that precise moment in order to get the best trajectory possible.
Once you get the hang of how each event works – made possible by quick tutorials before any new events – it’s pretty easy to defeat the AI. The latter is skewed such that a corpse gives you a better fight in Easy mode, while Medium difficulty might see you break a sweat after perhaps your eightieth hour of gameplay. We avoided steamrolling the entire game’s AI by simply playing in Hard mode, which resulted us in losing – but only barely. The difficulty level let us conclude that this is truly a game for the masses and not for core gamers.
Unfortunately, not all games are as appealing or have their inputs as well designed as the track events. It was great fun hurdling across the 100m stretch. It was less fun trying to aim in the skeet event, or to pirouette gracefully in the diving and trampoline events. Inputs for those events were slow and unresponsive, and lacked a competitive feel, since you breezed through them without getting to see any of your opponents.
It’s a good thing Sega decided to put in an Event mode. The latter allows you to pick and choose up to eight of your favourite events for a dedicated playlist. In Olympic mode, you only get to select two events a day, which you repeat if you qualify for the finals. It makes for some pretty boring play after a while, especially since you can’t skip across the more mind-numbing disciplines.
In truth, the Olympic mode eventually left us stranded with only the boring or tough-to-play disciplines, and we decided to call it a day there. It is fortunate the event mode provides some relief from having to drag yourself through a skeet competition, but there are only so many times you can mash your way through a 100m sprint and win the AI, you know?
|SCORESHEET (out of 10)||OVERALL
London 2012 is developed by Sega Studios Australia and published by Sega for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. It is the official game for the 2012 London Olympics. It was released on June 28 2012 here by New Era Entertainment.