reviews\ Feb 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Vancouver 2010: The Official Video Game of the Winter Olympic Games - 360 - Review

Americans love the Olympics. In fact, as evidenced by Beijing in 2008, most of the modern world fills with national pride when the Olympics come around. The games are great at making millions of people feel like a part of something bigger, even if each and every one of us has an ulterior motive for watching. Some people enjoy cheering on the best of the best in their given sport, while others will watch with a secret urge to see a competitor crash and careen down the mountainside. Your mother might favor the gracefulness of figure skating, while your father will keep strict count of how many gold medals his country has won. But, even with these additives, the overall sensation of seeing your national win gold medals is always overwhelming.

Vancouver 2010 is supposed to represent all of those hidden feelings that we glue ourselves to the television for every couple of years. Unfortunately, the honor and pride of The Olympics is largely eliminated from the video game, though. The cover of the casing is awe inspiring and will indeed illicit a smile on any Olympic fan’s face, but once the game is played, you will realize that none of those players on the cover are even represented during gameplay. The character models look slick and sporty, but any aspect of personalization is eliminated. You may not think much of this at first, but truthfully, each and every person that picks up Vancouver 2010 will be hoping to see their virtual self standing atop the podium with a gold medal on their neck. This is not the case, and definitely affects any desire to continue playing the game after a few playthroughs.

Once at the Main Menu screen, players will be able to choose from a fair amount of options, including Training, Olympic Games, Challenges, Leaderboards, and Options. After you make a selection, you will then be able to choose from any of 14 different events offered. While 14 might seem like a large number, it is deceiving representation to say the least. Many of the events play relatively the same, depending on the origin of that event. And when you weigh these 14 events against the insane amount of sports that actually take place at The Olympics, the quantity is really quite small.

Players can choose from a multitude of slope-based events, such as Downhill Skiing, Snowboard Slalom, and Freestyle Skiing. Luckily, some of these events are controlled differently than the others and offer enough variation in gameplay to keep you progressing through each sport. Controls will range from timed button presses, to balancing acts between each thumb stick. While the changes are good, the time it takes to master each event is typically quite short, and you will move on to an unconquered track quickly. Other sports represented in Vancouver 2010 include Bobsledding, Speed Skating, Luge, and the Skeleton. Once again, these might be different from the skiing sports, but do not vary from each other very much.

The overall presentation of each sport played is exhilarating at first, but as evidenced in the time it takes to master them, the look and feel gets old fast. Motion blur is active when rushing down a mountain, but the limited landscapes become mundane after only a few runs on that particular course. The lacking ability to change a course layout without changing the sport also affects replay value, as the player will surely memorize each and every turn within minutes. Luckily, the game offers a unique first-person view that can be toggled at any given moment, which adds to the already lacking immersive bubble expected from an Olympic video game.

The Challenge Mode is a life saver for Vancouver 2010. Players are forced to overcome specific rules or goals within each sport, and are rewarded accordingly for doing so with Achievements. These goals will range from breaking a specified time, to bursting through snowmen for speed boosts during a downhill run. But once again, after you conquer each achievement, you will have no desire to go back to the starting line and run the track again.

When a player jumps online, they can compete for medals against their friends and compare their medal count at any time. The competitive aspects of Vancouver 2010 are ramped up slightly because of this, but the player’s desire to continuously beat their friends at the same sports will surely die in a swift manner.

While the impending arrival of the Winter Olympics is a great catalyst to promoting a video game, the interest of players will not stick around long, unfortunately. Vancouver 2010 is a vast improvement over Olympic games of years before, but still hinders from any personal connection between the players and the game. If you can’t wait for the games to begin on February 12th, then this title will undoubtedly hold you over until then, but Vancouver 2010 will not be a game that you find yourself playing for months on end.

Review Scoring Details for Vancouver 2010

Gameplay: 6
Varying controls for each event are intriguing at first, but the limited courses and events detract from the overall experience. Once a player masters the controls, there is no more reason to linger in that sport category.  

Graphics: 7
The first-person view is fresh and fulfilling, but surrounding landscapes can get repetitive during your repeated attempts to conquer a course.

Sound: 5
Strangely enough, rock music will play in the background during some of your runs, which completely negates any sense of focused intensity you may be trying to experience. Not much worth noting from the audio of this game.

Difficulty: Easy
While obtaining the achievements during Challenge Mode is fun, none of the sports are overly difficult to master. With some sensible memorization and rhythm, most sports can be won easily.  

Concept: 4  
The only intuitive aspects of Vancouver 2010 seemed to be the lack of button mashing that always plagued Olympic games of the past, and the first-person view toggled by simply pressing “B.”

Multiplayer: 6
While it may be fun to pummel your friends online at sports much less common than football or baseball, the lasting appeal of any given event offered will not linger for very long.  

Overall: 6
Sega took some steps in the right direction with Vancouver 2010, but the overall absence of that intangible feeling that The Olympics ignites within most people is still vividly obvious. The game may be fun to play, but that sense of fun will turn into a sense of boredom after only a few sessions in each sport.

Above Average

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