So here we are in the midst of the Modern Olympic Games hosted for the third time in London. To accompany this amazing spectacle, Sega have released London 2012, a game based on this worldwide phenomenon. Now already if you’ve heard of or played any Olympic-style video game in the past, you’ll know immediately what you’re getting into. As expected this is essentially another mini-game compilation featuring a number of sporting events and although this edition doesn’t include every single one, it does offer a decent 46 to choose from. The events are separated into eight different categories, Track, Field, Swimming, Diving, Shooting, Archery, Gymnastics and Other Sports. While the stats are impressive, the game sadly stumbles when it comes to consistency of quality.
One of my favourite events is the Rapid Fire Pistol where you have to shoot at five targets within a certain amount of time, after which you are scored on how close you are to the centre. It starts off giving you a whole eight seconds to hit every target giving you a bit of time to line up your shots. However, this event is called rapid fire, so the time gets cut to six seconds and then four. Only having four seconds to fire five shots at the targets means you have to be super quick. It’s really difficult, but you have a real sense of achievement when you do well. The controls are really simple and it flows really well. However, the game has frozen on me mid event and it has had a bit of lag too. It’s a shame, because when it does work, it’s really good fun, but it just gets annoying when you’ve been doing so well, only to then lose because of a bug in the game.
Some of the events are shameful, table tennis being the worst. It’s so buggy and laggy that it takes real patience to even win one point. You have to swing early and judge how fast the ball is coming at you all whilst adding any spin you want and then moving your character into a position where he can actually hit it. It’s hideous. Your character feels like he is on roller skates and the timing is awful. You can time your swing perfectly, and still miss.
The track events are all fairly similar, hammer a button to make your Olympian run, but make sure you keep it within the gauge and lunge at the finish line. There are a few adaptations for each one, a stamina bar for sprinting in the Men’s 400 meters for example, but it does get a bit repetitive.
The throwing events like shot-put, usually have some sort of build up in power, followed by setting an angle to achieve the perfect throw. It seems to work well, but, like other events, it does sometimes does glitch out and make you commit a foul. High jump, triple jump and long jump all use the sprint to gain speed followed by flicking an analogue stick at a certain angle to compete, it’s does get a bit boring.
After all the similar events, it’s nice to move onto something like Skeet shooting, I think this game does it very well. You call for your Clay pigeon to fly, track it and shoot. It’s actually really good fun, and is very addictive. If you miss one shot, you feel like you let yourself down. Archery is also very good, you pull back your bow, judge the wind and let fly. Thanks to some great controls this truly is the standout of the group.
The other type of event is more a button entry game, push a set of buttons at the correct time to win. Diving, swimming, trampolining and a few other use this. It’s really difficult and takes some getting used to, but once nailed it gives you a great sense of achievement when you do manage to perform a dive perfectly or win a gold in the swimming.
There’s a few unusual events, Kayaking being one of them. I really like it though, mainly because it’s completely different from any other event and is really challenging. You speed down the river going through gates in the quickest time possible. The controls are a bit fiddly, but once you get used to them it’s great fun. I seemed to get very competitive, always striving to do better, turning slightly earlier, boosting at the right time and taking more risks to get through that gate a split second sooner.
Another different event is the beach volleyball. If you can look over the really bad bugs and diving which is horrendous, then it can be enjoyable. You can pass, block and dive and even serve an ace if you’re lucky. It’s first to five in a best of 3 sets. It is possible to spike too, but it’s really temperamental, sometimes allowing you to leap and others not.
Of course you were never going to see every Olympic event featured and the selection on offer here is of a decent variety. However it is disappointing to see a few key ones missing. Hammer throw, heptathlon, swimming relay, wrestling, judo, these would have all made great additions. Also the 46 event figure boasted earlier is padded out by men’s/women’s variants which essentially offer the exact same thing. Sure it makes sense to include both genders, but that shouldn’t reflect the total figure if they’re duplicate events.
Breaking records is actually really difficult, the Olympic records seem to be within range, but I never managed to break one, not even close in fact. They seem so far out of reach it’s insane. I know it’s supposed to be hard, but this is a game. I threw a perfect discus once, full speed, perfect angle and timed everything to the letter. I broke the Olympic record, but was still a good way off the world record. I have no idea how I’ll ever break it.
As expected the multiplayer is where the game supplies the most fun with events bringing out the competitive side in everyone. Things really start to come to life when you’re playing a friend as apposed to a faceless AI opponent. Online too is decent with single events and tournaments selectable. Single player sees you tackling each event two at a time, day by day. You’re given the option between five or so events each day with a qualifying round needing to be completed before getting your chance to win the gold. It’s standard stuff that will undoubtedly be passed on in favour of some good old fashioned local multiplayer though.
The graphics are okay for the most part – competitors look fairly detailed and animate well. The characters are all fictional however, which is quite disappointing. As this is the official London Olympic game, I wanted to sprint as Usain Bolt, jump as Greg Rutherford and dive as Tom Daley. Instead you get Joe Bloggs and other randomly generated names. However, this does mean you can customize each character, changing their names and what they look like even if it is a very basic creation option.
So overall this Olympic attempt is pretty decent, if you can look over a few of it’s flaws and pick out some of the better events. If you’re into the Olympic spirit and want a game in which you can replicate some of your heroes’ major wins, this could be the best way. Throw in some fairly decent commentary and some genuinely challenging events and you have a well rounded game that is more bronze medal than Olympic champion.