Wherever you look, there’s some mention of the Olympics coming to London. Whether it’s the Olympic torch relay or endless television coverage, there is no escaping the Olympics. If that wasn’t enough, accompanying the event is the video game counterpart, London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games, as it hop, skips and jumps onto consoles.
The game contains 46 Olympics events for players to take part in, which are split into track, field, swimming, diving, shooting, archery, gymnastics and other sports. There’s a wide variety of events, ranging from Men’s Discus Throw and Men’s Triple Jump to Men’s Weightlifting over 105kg and Women’s 100m Backstroke.
Previous Olympic titles have mostly consisted of button-bashing, something the game’s developer, Sega Studios Australia, has managed to avoid in the 2012 instalment. Where running is involved, players must keep the green bar in between two points on a gauge. Furthermore, a lot of the events are all about timing: whether it’s getting the correct angle on the Men’s Javelin or ensuring the strokes during the swimming are done to precision.
As to be expected with a title that contains so many events, some are better than others. For example, table tennis is very well developed as it features a range of shot types and movements. However, events such as the Men’s Trampoline aren’t particularly enjoyable to play. These type of events are simply a case of pressing the corresponding buttons in quicktime events and don’t require much skill at all.
The title’s main game mode comes in the form of the Olympic Games themselves, with players taking control of a nation as they attempt to lead them to victory. Each day of the campaign, players select two events from a number of possibilities. Players must then attempt to qualify for the finals of both events later that day. The nation with the most medal points at the end of the campaign is the overall winner.
Players can earn ‘retry tokens’ which can be used after an event’s completion to retry the event. While it seems a pointless inclusion on the lower difficulties, it can be the difference between winning the gold medal and winning nothing at all on higher difficulties.
While London 2012 doesn’t contain the athletes that will be representing the nations at this year’s Olympic Games, there is the ability to customise teams. Unfortunately, the customisation is limited to a small number of variants and skin types, making the feature something that will be overlooked by players.
Sega Studios Australia has brilliantly captured the feel of the Olympics. The opening ceremony looks stunning and there’s also medal ceremonies throughout the game mode, which feature the winning nation’s national anthem and have a real sense of achievement about them.
In addition to the Olympics game mode, there’s “Event Play,” a game mode which allows for players to create a playlist of events. Events Play offers more choice and variety than the Olympics game mode and is a great addition to the title.
London 2012 also caters for multiplayer with support for up to four players locally. “Party Play” allows players to compete in the game’s events using controllers and Kinect. Unfortunately, Kinect is only compatible with a small number of events and, even then, it proves to be a case of simply flailing your arms for the vast majority of the time.
Multiplayer extends to online with Xbox Live support for up to eight players in “Quick Match,” “Custom Match” and “Online Tournament.” This is where the game really comes alive as players compete against others of a similar skillset.
Graphically, London 2012 manages to capture the look and feel of the Olympic Stadium brilliantly. The other venues, Lord’s Cricket Ground, Lee Valley White Water Centre, The Royal Artillery Barracks, North Greenwich Arena and Eton Dorney, have also been recreated to a very good standard. Equally, the character modeling is very realistic and the developers have managed to design loading screens which nicely incorporate the Olympics 2012 logo.
As for the audio, the commentary from broadcaster, Seth Bennett, and former 400m athlete, Allison Curbishley, have been well-scripted and add a real sense of context to the title. In addition, the crowd reactions to the events also add to the context of the game, with massive cheers for successful attempts and victories, though groans of disappointment for fails. Unfortunately, the only real problem on the development front is the easily forgettable soundtrack.
Overall, London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games is the best attempt at an Olympics video game to date. There’s a great range of mini-games and the title has been brilliantly developed, though is let down by general repetitiveness and the lifespan of the game isn’t ideal. If you like the look of it, this is definitely worth at least a rental.
David Wriglesworth is a Northern lad with a passion for gaming, who graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA (Hons) Journalism degree. If you can drag him away from the consoles, you can probably find him Tweeting or watching Coronation Street.