It must be hard to make a good Olympic themed video game. I mean think back. How many good ones can you even name? I think I enjoyed that NES track game with the power pad. So there’s one. Then 20-something years passed and here we are.
I think it’s tricky to do a good Olympics game because of the material you have to work with. I doubt many people care about playing as specific athletes and when you break it down, many of the events are the same thing, which doesn’t bode well for a video game. The Mario and Sonic Olympic games only got interesting when they started throwing in power-ups and weird shit like that.
So that brings us to the Vancouver 2010 game, which sadly does not contain wacky power-ups or figure skating turtles.
Question – does it break the streak of bad/mediocre Olympic themed games?
Answer – Nope.
It does lean more towards mediocrity than sheer awfulness though, so it’s a step in the right direction.
Let’s start with the positive. The game looks good. The character models are detailed and the environments are overall pretty impressive. Granted you are usually looking at a screen full of snow, but it looks fine and the frame rate runs smoothly, so I’m happy.
The coolest part though is that each of the events provides a first person perspective, which was easily my favourite aspect of the game. With just the touch of a button you switch to the athlete’s point of view and I have to say they really put in the effort to make this work well. There is motion blur for when you start going fast and it really adds to the sense of speed. The first person view helps draw you more into the experience and I would recommend always switching over to it right away.
Unfortunately I don’t have many more good things to say.
You have a total of 15 events to choose from, which already isn’t that many, but as I said earlier, many are just slight variations on each other. Bobsleigh and luge, all forms of downhill skiing/snowboarding, there just isn’t enough variety amongst them. They control virtually the same and tend to blend into each other.
The other problem is that none of them are particularly fun. Again they aren’t bad. They control fine and they work on a very basic level, they just aren’t engaging. There were very few events where after trying them once, I felt like I would go back to them. Hell for some of them I didn’t even want to do the 2nd run that most events require you to do.
Some of them are decent fun. I enjoyed the ski jump event, and actually went back to it a few times. Same with speed skating. Most of them though are decent at first, but then immediately lose their appeal.
My other big problem with the game is that it just feels kind of empty. Aside from simply choosing and playing an event, there isn’t much else going on. There’s no story scenario or any feeling of real progression. You just pick an event, and then play said event. Yaaaaaaaay.
In all fairness, on top of that there are a series of challenges you can do. These require you to accomplish certain tasks in each event such as beating a specific time or acquiring a certain amount of points. Although there is some fun to be had working your way through the various stages, it’s still just the same events over and over.
Aside from unlocking trophies/achievements (you get one for every single challenge you finish, as well as every event you gold medal), there just isn’t that much motivation to keep playing this game. There is online multiplayer, which is certainly a nice addition, but I can’t comment on it because despite numerous attempts, I never found anyone to play against. If anyone has been successful here, let me know if the online brings the fun, because the single player mostly does not.
I haven’t completely given up hope for a realistic Olympics game that’s actually a really good game. As I said in the beginning I do believe this is a step in the right direction, but it’s still not quite enough unfortunately. I think their best bet is to keep the graphics, the real countries and athletes and the overall authentic feel, but then toss in a bunch of fireball power-ups and spring loaded skis and what not. You can thank me later whoever makes Olympic games.