London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games Review
During the past month we have witnessed some of the greatest sporting achievements the world has ever seen. Millions of pounds had been spent building, advertising and preparing for London 2012, and athletes from all over the planet descended on London in search of gold and their chance to make history. For those of us who haven’t put in countless hours on the track, in the pool, on a bike, or at the gym we have the chance to keep the fun going and be part of the biggest Olympic Games ever with London 2012: The Official Video Game.
Developed by Sega Studios Australia, London 2012 is everything you would expect from an Olympics video game. It features 45 events across a range of disciplines that include favourites like track and field, swimming, diving and rowing. The game features a control scheme that is simple enough for people to pick up and play, with many of the events requiring you to do nothing more than press as single button at the correct time or in sequence, like a QTE. Gone are the days of blistered fingers and thumbs from games like Konami’s International Track & Field where after a few events you were reaching for the plasters before you could continue. London 2012 features a more rhythm-based control scheme which is easy on the thumbs and allows you to smash records without breaking into too much of a sweat (or looking like Ant playing Kinect Summer Stars 2012). Whilst the rhythm based control scheme is a lot simpler it still requires your attention as it can vary slightly between different events. There is a certain element of skill required in some events such as the 400m.
The game has varying control schemes such as timed button presses which are prompted by onscreen instructions in the gymnastics and diving, use of the analogue sticks to control your strokes in swimming and weightlifting and simple 3rd person shooter mechanics in the shooting events such as skeet and rapid pistol. I played the Playstation 3 version of the game which had some events that are Move enabled through Motion Party Play. I found using the Move controller was not as enjoyable as using the normal dual shock pad. If you moved too much after you have calibrated the Playstation Eye with the Move controller it would lose you. That would result in events been ruined by having to restart and trying to stand still so that you remained in view of the camera all the time. Also standing in your front room pretending to throw a javelin is a little bit stupid. However if you are looking for a bit of a change and a chance to use your Move controller then give it a shot but I would say stick to Sports Champions as your number 1 Move sports game.
There are four different game modes available for players to test their skills: Olympic Games, Event Play, Party Play and Online Play. The Olympic Games is the single player career mode of the game. You start off by choosing your nation from the 35 that are available then proceed to take on the Olympic Games. Every day you choose two events from a gradually decreasing list of events that are available and then play through the qualifying round of the chosen events before competing for a medal in the finals. This allows you to play a good range of events throughout the mode and also try out all the events in the game. I found this mode fun to play with my attempt at showboating in the diving costing me the gold as I belly flopped to 4th place after thinking I had wrapped up the medal already with one round left. One downside to the Olympic Games mode is that whilst it allows you to have a quick tutorial, which shows you which buttons to press and how to compete in an event. It doesn’t allow you to have a few practice attempts of the event.
The Olympics mode is ok to play alone but it is the Events Play and Party Play modes that make the London 2012 game really FUN to play. Playing through a customised playlists of events in Events Play against up to 3 more players is what makes this game come alive. Selecting either individual play or team play allows you to go for glory alone or with a partner. Competing in events such as the 100m with and against friends whilst in the same room is unlike any other sports game experience. Before the race begins there will be all the showmanship you come to expect from 100m sprinters, except this time it will be from your mates who would be lucky to run 100m in 5mins never mind less than 10 seconds. As soon as the athletes are in their places ready for the start of the race the room goes silent as everyone is waiting for the race to begin. On your marks, set, go and the pandemonium begins with buttons being hit faster than Usain Bolt. The players cross the finish line and the insults begin again. Playing these fast paced events together is a good change and allows for some great action.
The Party Play allows for more competing as well as team challenges where you are set a target score across a number of events and all the players work together to reach the totals which then allow you to move onto the next challenge. Party play includes events such as Archery Blitz and Javelin Target, which are party inspired versions of the standard event. Archery Blitz gives you a set time to fire as many arrows as you can whilst still trying to score high points. There are also score multipliers that pop up on the target for you to hit which could be the difference between winning and losing. The final mode is the online mode which is also very competitive and allows you to take on players from around the world whilst representing a nation of your choice as long as it’s from the 35 on the game (which means British pride and more swearing). The online mode is basically the same as the events play mode except you can never seem to access a games lobby to compete. The times I did manage to connect to a game I found that there was a good spread of player skill which meant at times the competition was extremely close and tense.
Whilst the game is generally real fun to play there are few things which let it down and make it a good game instead of a very good game. The first issue that I have with it is the lack of real sports stars. I really couldn’t care less about William Atkins, the random Jamaican sprinter that appears on the game – I want to be breaking world records with the likes of Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake. The Olympic Games are magical because of these stars and not having them in the official game is like having FIFA without Messi and Ronaldo. I know there are probably legitimate reasons for this such as sponsorship and other Olympic regulations but it is a shame. The game does allow you to edit the names and appearances of the athletes but it is very basic, allowing you to choose their appearance from a pre-set list.
The next issue is the presentation; whilst the game doesn’t look bad all the time the athletes themselves can look a bit alien like at times during the events. I have seen swimmers appear to be above the water or have arms that are made of jelly. These issues are not constant but when they do appear it ruins the atmosphere of the game. Despite the occasional graphical hiccup the arenas that the events take place in look lifelike and add a sense of the Olympic atmosphere we have seen so much of over the last 2 weeks to the games. The next presentation problem is with the sound and the commentary by the BBC’s Seth Bennett and Alison Curbishley. They have tried to make the commentary interesting but the commentator’s voices become repetitive and annoying far too quickly. Seth sounds like a poor man’s Gary and tries to sound enthusiastic about everything that’s happening and Alison sounds like she has fallen asleep on the train and woken up in the commentary box for the few events she commentates on.
Despite the few issues that I have mentioned London 2012 is a fun game and should definitely be played, especially if you have a good group of mates that can come round and try it with you. Now that the Olympics are over London 2012 will probably turn up for a cut price in the sales or pre owned and if this is the case you should pick it up and give it a go.
Great multiplayer fun
Easy to pick up and play
The crowd, stadiums and arenas add to the atmosphere.
No more blistered fingers
Will no doubt be reduced now the Olympics have ended.
No real world athletes or branded equipment
Commentary can be repetitive at times
Occasional issues with the character design during events
Issues with connecting to online events