What better time to post my review of London 2012: The Official Videogame, than the day after the closing ceremony? If you want to get a taste of the Olympics once again without watching everything once more on BBC iPlayer, you can always try out the game, but you will be missing out on a large number of sports. The game features 46 events from 13 sports, pretty stingy when compared to 304 events from 36 sports that we just witnessed over the past couple of weeks. London 2012 clearly doesn’t quite match the real thing for events to take part in, but the bigger question is, are they any good to play?
Well, I think the bigger question is why the game has failed to provide an even number of men’s and women’s events. I’ll give some examples of where I think the game goes wrong, especially in light of some of the stunning performances by female athletes at the Games. There are men’s 100m, 200m and 110m hurdles, but no female versions. Men’s long jump, triple jump and javelin, but again no female presence in these events. There are male cycling, canoeing and rowing events…but again, nothing for the women. The only event the women have to themselves in the game is the beach volleyball. I don’t know why there is such an odd balance in events women are available to play in, but it is really noticeable when you play the game. It is part of a wider issues within sports games, but for the official game of the Olympics, the lack of equality is quite staggering.
Even if things were balanced out, I would struggle to recommend buying this if you were thinking of playing it by yourself. It would probably be a decent group party game, but playing through the events in the ‘Olympic Games’ mode by yourself isn’t that much fun. In this mode, you chose two events to take part in each day over a ten day period trying to reach the top of the medal table. You choose a country to represent with different nations being listed as performing stronger in some events than others. This is the only hint of ratings for the make believe athletes you control, you don’t actually know what each person can do in different events. So in weightlifting for example, even after smashing the A button on my 360 pad (it is recommended when you start the game to use one) and moving the analogue sticks in the right direction, my Brit couldn’t lift weights anywhere near what was needed to qualify from the first round to the medal competition.
The majority of events come down to mashing buttons at the correct time and hoping for the best, in running you just press A enough to keep a bar green without over exerting into the red or falling off the pace while in swimming you just pull the triggers when a prompt appears. Simplistic mechanics and not really much fun, the only sport I really enjoyed was the canoeing where you take part in the slalom event. That requires some skill in keeping up speed, navigating the course and fighting against the rapids to come through the upstream gates. Archery is fun at first glance, but with wind speed becoming a massively increased factor in the medal round, the difficulty curve feels very artificial. Though I will say that Lords looks stunning as the home of archery.
At the end of the day though, I won’t be playing London 2012 again, especially not now the event is over. It might work with a group of people on a console, but even then I imagine Mario and Sonic London 2012 would provide more fun and games. London 2012 lacks depth and any real skill to play, but I will say that the presentation of each venue is done well. When that and the canoeing are the only real redeeming factors, you know you should look elsewhere for your sports fix.
One last thing, there is no handball in this game. That saddened me.
Verdict – Off Target
Platforms Available – PC, PS3, 360
Platform Reviewed – PC
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