Vancouver 2010 Updated Hands On Preview - A Winter of Disc-Contents
Written Monday, December 28, 2009 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Invariably, videogames featuring any kind of athletic endeavour such as running, jumping or chucking stuff involves some sort of finger shredding control system that sends more pads to the scrap heap than any other genre. And they’re never much good anyway, so the general consensus (normally with good reason) is often, ‘why bother?’
Apparently, Vancouver 2010: The Official Videogame of the Winter Olympic Games’ developers Eurocom are fully aware of this and after Beijing 2008’s decidedly lukewarm reception, they’ve built their official game of the Winter Olympics with brainless button mashing seemingly in mind. How do we know this? Because there’s virtually no pad destroying insanity to be found in Vancouver 2010 and what little there is features in perfectly logical instances, never outstaying its welcome.
Comprised of around 14 events, the game covers all of the Winter Olympics’ main disciplines from downhill slalom, snowboard cross and ski jumping, to skeleton, luge and bobsleigh. Each has been carefully constructed with its very own control mechanics that make perfect, logical sense.
For instance, bobsleigh involves tapping A to power your run up before pressing B to get in and then build up your speed by shifting your weight with the triggers while steering as close to the high edges to accumulate extra speed and momentum. Go too far and your bobsleigh will crash, disqualifying you from that particular run.
More than ever, success and medal-winning times in events actually requires real skill on your part with mastery of several different elements being essential. During our hands-on with the near-finished game at SEGA’s UK HQ, we found each event to be good, solid fun especially when playing in competition against human rivals.
We got exceptionally addicted to the ski jump though, with much of our time devoted to setting the furthest record we could, eventually recording an unbeatable 318.9 metres that no one could even get close to. This event was by far our favourite, with the first-person view lending extra authenticity to proceedings as you survey your surroundings, check the wind direction and push off down the slope.
Once you’re on your way down, you have to get ready to gauge your angle before taking off; adjust your balance in-flight before pressing A to execute the perfect landing at just the right moment. Pulling off each component gives you a mark out of 100 and this marking system applies to all of the events, so you can keep tabs on how well you’re doing. So, if you fail to properly make a corner in the luge, bobsleigh or skeleton events for example, you can go into the pause menu and restart rather than having to waste time completing a dud run.
Slalom, snowboard and speed skating events are altogether different challenges, demanding deft control and application of the left trigger to pull off sharp turns. 1,500-metre speed skating involves hitting a perfect rhythm, which is easier to hit if you switch the view to first-person with a quick jab of the B button. A Guitar Hero-style visual indicator pops up enabling you to press A at exactly the right time and build up speed accordingly. Any event can be viewed in first-person if you like too, although we wouldn’t recommend it.
Additionally, there’s added longevity in the all-new challenge mode consisting of over 30 single and multiplayer challenges that ought to keep you well occupied during the twilight winter months. Fundamentally though, it’s refreshing to finally play an official game based on the Olympics that won’t break our controllers. Moreover, the visuals are lovely and shiny too, impressively so in fact.
For a game chock-full of snow and ice, the surfaces are suitably crisp and virgin-white and the athletes all look anatomically correct, which is nice. Our hands-on has proven that there’s life in this most maligned of genres yet and that Vancouver 2010 may even manage to extol the virtues of a multi-event title with a line-up of focused, addictive and fun mini-games that have enough added depth to keep you playing until at least the next Winter Olympics in another four years time.
That’s not to say that Vancouver 2010 will be the most amazing sports title ever conceived, but as a simple collection of bite size events, SEGA’s Winter Olympics tie-in might just be worth a punt when it’s released on January 12th.