Review: London 2012 (PS3)

By Wayne Webb

London 2012 the official video game for the latest Olympics is not the greatest video game you’ll ever play, but it is the best Olympic video game I have played to date.

The Games associated with the Olympics of the past have been ill conceived and superficial tie-ins to the game and have the skill equivalency of throwing a brick through your window. With London 2012, Sega has set the Olympic standard for official tie in games as it is playable, fun and challenging.

All of this may be surprising if you’ve been playing nasty button masher Olympics games over the decades. If you’ve never played one before you may think the game is average to good, but if you have ever tried one you’ll see quickly that is the best so far.

However, it’s not all good as there are a few niggly points. Your Olympic campaign is limited to 12 events in six days from a random mix of sports. You get to qualify based on a loose tutorial and then compete. If the tutorial is vague or unhelpful (a lot of them are) then you can fail to qualify and miss out – unless you use a sparing amount of tokens for replays.

The great things are the game as button mashing is out while rhythm and timing are in. Running is not about how rapid you press, but with a consistent frequency that keeps a good pace. Too fast and you tire out and lose, too slow and you’re way behind and can’t catch up. Focus is rewarded. The same with the field events and the game sports like beach volleyball or table tennis. Play consistently and gold is yours. There are 36 countries to choose from, but none of them feature real-life athletes. You can edit them to show you beating Usain Bolt at the 100m, but it’s an option for name only.

You can use the PS Move for party-play mini games and it is fun to compete head-to-head with other people – that’s where sports games usually come into their own. If you’re a solo gamer then you can perfect your timing in single events and claim Olympic and/or world records on your events. If you wander online you can also choose to join and international competition and add to your country of choice’s medal tally in the Meta Competition across the Internet.

The most fun to play, the amazing graphics and the first Olympic tie-in I have played that actually feels like the Olympics rather than a random jumbled series of mini games that frustrate and deny skill. London 2012 gets it right; much like the games themselves it is plagued by low expectations yet manages to deliver much more.

Pros: Beautiful design, varied and eclectic mix of games, PS Move options, party mode, play for your country and no button mashing!
Cons: Limited campaign, tutorials a bit off.

4 Out Of 5 Shacks

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