The British love to complain, it could almost be a national hobby of ours, and nothing has been the focus of our cynicisms over the past few months than the London 2012 Olympics. The authoritarian measures of the London Olympic Committee, and the fact that some Londoners are being moved from their homes to accommodate visitors, are just a couple of the many complaints being thrown around. Clearly, it’s incredibly easy to forget that the Olympics are easily the greatest showcase of human sporting achievement. It seems then that the responsibility of reminding us exactly what this momentous event will be like falls to Sega’s London 2012.
Taking place in just a few days time, the London 2012 Olympics will play host to a staggering 10,000 athletes from around the world – many of whom are the best in their field and world record breakers. This is easily going to be the biggest sporting event in the world – at least until the next Olympics that is. So, with Sega’s officially licensed London 2012 game we get a first glimpse – albeit a simulated one – of the footage we’ll be sat at home watching on TVs across the country, except hopefully Great Britain will do better in the table tennis than I did.
Taking place across the various London Olympic venues, each location is accurately modeled on the finished article, meaning that for those who haven’t had a chance to see the rather stylised Olympic Village venues – or the other repurposed London landmarks – it’s a strikingly detailed reproduction, although I didn’t spy the massive McDonalds anywhere.
You’ll be relieved to know that the days of skinning your knuckles or wearing holes through your jumper sleeves playing games like International Track & Field are gone as Sega Studios Australia have followed a similar direction to Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Bashing buttons over and over wont get you very far in London 2012 as emphasis has now been placed on rhythm, meaning that timing is all you need to see you grabbing gold and a podium finish.
Some modes definitely work better than others, such as the rather simple to grasp, yet tricky to master table tennis event or the strangely hypnotic swimming events. Conversely, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get to grips with any of the acrobatics events, with my button inputs just being a split second too slow – far too many times I drove an acrobat face first into a crash; although I imagine that would make fantastic viewing if this was the real thing.
The inclusion of PS Move is also a welcome addition. While only a few modes are available for use with the motion system, it works really rather well and serves as a nice change of pace from Sports Champions. It’s a shame that integration has been sidelined though, as it would be nice to have played the entire Olympic campaign with that glowing orb on a stick in my hand.
The real high point – and also somewhat of a low point – is the commentary. As London 2012 is aiming for that TV style coverage, the voices of BBC commentators Seth Bennett and Alison Curbishley have been used. While both talk endlessly over every event you partake in, Curbishley sounds intensely uninterested and incredibly wooden in every single one of her repetitive comments – most likely due to inexperience in providing voice-overs for games. Bennett on the other hand actually sounds interested in what’s going on on-screen. Of course his lines are as equally repetitive as Curbishley’s, but his enthusiasm rubs off rather easily and so you begin to want to do better at each event – and that’s without the need of multiplayer competition.
With a solid, and interesting, online component to keep solo players attention and provide them with human opponents, the real joy of multiplayer is found in sharing a screen with others. Just like the family-friendly Mario & Sonic games, emphasis is on having fun and competing with friends and family, providing a nice aside for those members of society who haven’t given up on the Olympics already.
London 2012 is easy to pick up and play, and even easier to become engrossed with. I was genuinely surprised I was enjoying it as much as I was. Generally though, London 2012 isn’t made for much more than some party play for a couple of hours at a time, and even then it’s not the most revolutionary game in terms of gameplay. If you’re still impassioned about the London Olympics, then London 2012 is a game you most certainly can’t do without; if however you feel like myself, and what seems like the majority of Britain, then you aren’t missing out by saving your money for something a little less sporting.
Audio/Visual – 4/5: Visually the locations are rather impressive, and character models aren’t too bad looking either – and there’s lashings of that garish colour scheme and headache inducing artwork. Audio however leaves a little to be desired with what has to be the most annoying menu music in history, but it is saved by superb commentary by Seth Bennett.
Gameplay – 3/5: Enjoyable and absorbing, however you’d struggle to find more than an hours worth of solo play before you became tired of it. Much better suited to multiplayer fun.
Innovation – 4/5: Sega Studios Australia have done a fantastic job of turning a primarily athletics based game into something more than a button masher. PS Move is also handled very well.
Value – 3/5: Really good for multiplayer content, but after finishing the repetitive campaign there isn’t a lot left to do.
Final Score: 3/5