London 2012 review
The Olympics are just around the corner and SEGA have released the official game just in time. It has come several weeks behind 49 Games developed Summer Stars which Scott liked if the Kinect controller compatibility is ignored, and with London 2012 – The Official Video Game, it’s very much a sense of Déjà Vu.
I never like starting a review on a bad point, but just like Scott and his Summer Stars review, it’s probably best to get this out into the open first and get it out of the way. Despite Microsoft’s motion sensor controller being out for nearly 2 years now, some games developers just don’t seem to have got their head around incorporating it into their game properly, and SEGA Studios Australia seem to have fallen right into that category. The support for Kinect is that bad in London 2012 that not all of the disciplines can be played with the Kinect controller and it can only be used in the games Party Mode.
In all honesty it is probably a positive that not all events can be played with Kinect, as the majority of the compatible events play so poorly it’s possible you would quickly jog down to your local game store to trade it in. Events such as Archery that you would expect to work well with Kinect (and one that I actually thought did work very well in Summer Stars) fail a lot of the time to register your movements correctly, meaning incorrect or buggy actions occur. The feeling I had when playing London 2012 with Kinect is that this is a rushed feature, as if SEGA Studios Australia noticed full Kinect compatibility in Summer Stars and panicked. That said all is not lost with London 2012, and if you ignore the Kinect element you have a very decent athletics game here that has a very polished feel to it.
Good news for buttons…
Over 45 events that will feature in this year’s Olympics are included in London 2012, and the stadia that will host each of these events meticulously recreated. Although the athletes and some of their movements can look a little suspect, their surroundings certainly do not. As the game was released before official Olympic squads were announced, no replica kits or real life athletes are included in the game, so don’t expect to go toe-to-toe with Usain Bolt in the 100m final – if you get there.
The games main mode will see you compete in some of the events over a period of time. With three difficulty options, and taking note of my very poor record in Track & Field, I decided to play it safe and pick the Normal difficulty level. The difficulty level determines how good your opponents are and the scores that they will post. You will probably find that in the majority of events you will sail through, possibly even recording Olympic or World Records. Other events you will struggle in, probably miss the cut to reach the final and fall at the first hurdle. But practise makes perfect and you’ll soon find you’re topping the medal table on the hardest difficulty.
If you’re expecting button bashing mayhem a la Track and Field you’re sorely mistaken. Some of these events, particularly the swimming and track disciplines require you to nail a technique and get your timings right. Pushing the analogue sticks in the direction your arms need to go whilst swimming sounds simple enough, or pressing the trigger buttons during the Single Skulls to represent oar movement equally so, but get the timing wrong and you’ll lose your rhythm and precious seconds. Equally you can’t just hammer the A button during the 100m sprint. You need to press it quickly yes, but to get the best speed you need to time your presses perfectly – too slow and your athlete won’t run at their fastest speed, but too quick and they might as well have their laces tied together.
A big tick in the box…
The disciplines and events available to play in the main mode offer enough variety to keep you interested, and after a play through more events will be available for you to try. Sadly only single player is available in the games main Olympics mode, but there is a Party Mode as well as the option to create your own playlist which allows you to pick and choose the events you’ll compete in, either as an individual, against a friend or as part of a team. Also available is the ability to play online over Xbox Live, something not offered by London 2012’s main rival and is certainly a big positive compared to Summer Stars.
Ignoring the Kinect compatibility, London 2012 is a very good title which has a lot to offer. The large selection of events, as well as online and offline multiplayer mean interest in the game should continue once the Olympic flame has left these shores. Throw in online leaderboards that record your best time or score for each event and you have another tick in the box for London 2012. There are two athletic themed titles in the stores at the moment, both of which require skill and technique in the majority of the events, but only one offers slightly more. If Summer Stars is worth a 7 from Gamedot, there’s only one score that we can give London 2012.