London 2012: The Olympic Games review

It’s a process that’s been running for years now.  With the Summer and Winter Olympics happening every two years, Sega’s been right on board with some sort of video game experience to kind of draw in fans with various activities, and unique ways to play them.  Unfortunately, most of these compilations have been less than favorable, due to lacking gameplay or fundamental features that would make you want to return once the Games concluded.  But with London 2012: The Olympic Games, Sega’s Australian development studio has actually done pretty good this time around, with an effort that’ll have you going for the gold more than you possibly could’ve expected.  While it’s not enough to change the shape of sports gaming, it’s a desirable Olympic collection – probably the first one we’ve seen since the old Track & Field days.

The game consists of 40+ activities, all based on the actual Olympic events, though playing through them mostly involves tapping buttons like crazy, holding the analog stick in a certain direction, or completing a quick-time event.  While that’s hardly as involving as what EA’s doing with its sports sims, it does make for a strong approach in the casual market, as anyone can literally pick up and play these games.  Plus, Sega Australia has put a certain sense of timing into each event.  With running, for instance, you have to tap the button enough so that you maintain a certain level of stamina, but you don’t want to mash like crazy, as too much can tire your runner out.

London

There are some events that truly stand out here.  Archery is very well done, giving you not only the trajectory on a shot, but also letting wind play a factor – something we haven’t seen that often in other archery games.  Table tennis has an interesting new spin – literally – with analog controls, rather than the usual button-tapping set-up.  And there’s even some first person shooting with the pistol events, something you don’t normally see in the Olympics.  Though not all the events are home runs, at least Sega made them interesting enough where you won’t automatically skip them.

Sega also outdid itself in the presentation department.  While not every athlete looks convincing going for Olympic gold, these athletes actually look closer to realistic than we expected, and their surroundings, based around official Olympic locations in London, are fascinating and life-like.  Furthermore, the camera never becomes a problem, as Sega has set up each angle so that it aids the player, rather than holding them back.  The sound is authentic too, with crowds and announcers applauding your performance.  Could’ve been better music, though.

London 2012 does give you the option to customize your athletes however you see fit, so you can add favorites from the past – or yourself – to your official team.  However, Sega cut the roster dramatically short with only 36 of the 200+ of the countries represented, for some inexplicable reason.  So if you’re a fan of Cuba or Egypt, we’ve got some bad news.

London

As for the other options London 2012 provides, they’re pretty good.  Motion play is included in the Party Play events, including Kinect and Move support, and though not every event can be played this way, the ones that were selected are moderately fun.  The game also comes with online support, so you can compete with other players around the world through leaderboards.  We’ll bust those world records yet…

Though London 2012 likely won’t be remembered like a year or so from now, it fares much better than Sega’s usual glut of Olympic-licensed flutter.  Though some of the activities are lacking (how do you screw up women’s volleyball?!) and a lot of representing countries are missing, most of the activities are fun with regular and motion play, and the online interaction is better than expected.  The presentation is good too, for what it is.  If you have to fulfill your fix of Olympic fever and the billion-plus hours of NBC coverage isn’t enough for you, step up to this podium and claim your medals.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]

Good

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Robert Workman
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