London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games Review for PC

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London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games screenshot
London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games screenshot

London 2012 is pretty good for an Olympics brand extension video game. As unfair as it sounds to qualify any compliment I may be about to bestow on SEGA's officially licensed tie-in for the London Olympics, the game's subgenre is a yardstick all prospective punters should bear in mind before they take the plunge. I'm not saying the game is bad, and I'm not saying players won't have fun, but it helps immensely if you bear in mind who the game is actually being aimed at and adjust your expectations accordingly.

To that end, core players in search of a sporty title they can enjoy solo should look elsewhere. While it may not feel like a party game at first glance, London 2012 is more enjoyable when more players are added to the mix. The controls are designed to be easy to pick up and play and, for those who are intimidated by the prospect of holding a control pad, the console versions are compatible with motion controls - although the Kinect integration is distinctly hit-and-miss.

The design of the mini-games, spread across 31 Olympic events, varies in quality. Track & Field events oscillate from compelling, to laughably easy to irksomely frustrating. Anything involving either a run-up or an extended sprint, for example, involves the player having to button-bash in order to fill a meter above a white bar without overflowing it. On an easy setting this is a cinch, but crank the skill level up a single notch and it becomes maddeningly difficult.

Jumping events also involve timed flicks of the thumbstick in line with an arrow that appears on the game's HUD. Once again, there's a lot of leeway offered on the easy setting, with the harder difficulty requiring laser-guided accuracy.

The javelin isn't as unforgiving, although its run-up can have an erratic effect on the player's throw. Only the shot put and discus events remain untarnished, as they mostly involve timing a release after winding up a throw.

The game's design is equally erratic away from the decathlon events, with the control system mostly divided up between quick time events, thumbstick flicking, button-bashing or a combination of all three. For my money, ping pong earns a distinction for allowing players to put oodles of spin on the ball for challenging trick shots, although the AI sees about half of these coming on higher difficulty.

The event I actually enjoyed the most is archery, a tightly made, challenging little mini-game with smooth controls. I could quite happily whittle away hours playing an archery training mode, if such a thing actually existed.

London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games screenshot

And that's really one of the big weak spots in London 2012 as a package - it offers very little to the solo player. Most of the events take seconds to complete, and while its possible to stack your own playlist of favourites it's just not as entertaining to compete with the game's AI as it is to square off against human opponents. Whether these contests take place online or locally doesn't matter, and there's a definite thrill in putting one over on living, breathing opponents that the solo-playing experience just can't compete with.

One could argue competing against actual humans is the entire point behind a sporting title, although I'd point out that tons of other video games in this genre offer this experience and come packaged with a robust single-player mode.

To be fair, London 2012 doesn't exactly skimp on content, and it's easily the best looking Olympic tie-in I've seen in four years. The athletes look like real people rather than lumps of moulded plastic, the venues look lifelike and the commentary, while rather repetitive and occasionally off-mark, is higher in quality than one would expect from what many would assume is a cash-in title. The developers have even designed a series of loading screens based around London 2012's hideous logo that looks genuinely eye-catching, which is something of an artistic feat in itself.

But in spite of all this, London 2012 fails to achieve what many modern sports titles manage with aplomb, which is to generate interest in the sports (or in this case, the event) they're based around. Admittedly, I'm a tough sell for the Olympics. I live in London and I'm surrounded on a daily basis by reports about how much the games are costing, how draconian the laws surrounding them are, how much they're going to inconvenience the entire city, and conversely, how grateful the Olympic committee seems to think we should feel about all of this.

London 2012 is likely be another piece of licensed memorabilia for anyone who already has the dinnerware, tea towel, and bedspread, but it'll struggle to convince any of the Olympiad unconverted who have a picture of Sebastian Coe affixed to a dartboard in their kitchen.

Version Tested: Xbox 360

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4 Comments

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Tristanslav's Avatar

Tristanslav

It's awful. They've reduced the button bash that was always such fun in previous incarnations (and I'm going back like 16 years) to tapping on the x button, and it's ludicrously easy. The mechanics of setting angles etc are too varied from event to event, and therefore the game becomes impossible to play without watching the tutorial (BORING!!) on every single event. Whilst I wouldn't disagree with much of the review - one thing I disagree with is this - this is a genre title that essentially comes out once every 4 years - and people have always enjoyed the genre as a multiplayer game. It was always a fun game to play with a load of other people, but this version just doesn't keep that, even as a multiplayer. It's made the powerbar etc far too standardised, and what you'll get, is a load of people pretty much getting the same times/distances.

As a big fan of track and field/olympic titles in the past, I'd give this like 3/10. They've dumbed it down rdiculously.
Posted 13:23 on 25 July 2012
thedanyrand's Avatar

thedanyrand

Im sorry but unless it has a plastic mat to run (hit with your hands because everyone cheated on that thing) on Im not sold.
Posted 03:49 on 30 June 2012
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga

I was expecting a 4. It got a 5. I can't help but be pleasantly surprised.

It's still a No, though.
Posted 20:45 on 29 June 2012
reynoldio's Avatar

reynoldio

"... it's easily the best looking Olympic tie-in I've seen in four years." Badoom, and indeed, tish.

Good read though, especially for a game I doubted I'd have much interest in at all. Cheers!
Posted 16:29 on 29 June 2012

Game Stats

London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games
5
Out of 10
London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games
  • Nice visuals
  • You'll need to really, really love the Olympics
  • No good in solo
  • Better alternatives out there
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 01/06/2012
Platforms: PC , Xbox 360 , PS3
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Sports
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 2,389 20
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