I love the Winter Olympics. Frankly it makes the summer variety look like a glorified school sports day. Anyone can splash around in a swimming pool, but how many of you can fling yourself down an icy slope on a tea tray? Not many. The Winter Olympics represent a large and mysterious experience and it doesn't really matter that the British contribution is somewhere on a par with Luxembourg, or that the closest I've ever been to skiing was slipping on some ice at Victoria Bus Station, whilst humming the theme tune to Ski Sunday. It still provides plenty of viewing pleasure to me, and many others.
Unfortunately the medium of videogames has not been kind to the Winter Olympics, providing a series of rushed titles with all the depth of a puddle of melted snow. Predictably Torino 2006 does little, perhaps even less than others, to correct the mistakes of the past.
Rather than leaving the game's few good points as a footnote to this review I thought it best to get them out of the way first; lest people go away remembering the good as opposed to the large majority of 'badness' that populates the game. The character animations in all events are of a decent enough standard and of all the events the Cross-Country Skiing provides the most intuitive control mechanism, requiring you to balance speed with stamina for the fastest time. I suppose the speed skating is entertaining for about five minutes or so, but at this point I draw a blank. Having wracked my brains thinking of all the positives in the game that is what I have come up with. To go further, one could point out that the snow is a very positive shade of white but this doesn't stand up to closer inspection. Just as well my career isn't Public Relations, I couldn't sell this game.
So that's the 'good' dealt with, what about the rest of it? The most glaring problem is simply the lack of depth provided by the events available in the game. You can compete in a 15-event tournament of sorts, but in actuality there are really only seven distinct event types: Alpine Skiing (in 4 varieties), Ski Jumping (with small and big hills), Speed Skating (3 distances), Cross-Country Skiing, Biathlon (the same as Cross-Country but with a shooting segment), Bobsleigh (4-man and women's) and Luge. There's also the Nordic Combined but this is simply Cross-Country and Ski Jumping together and as such can't count as a unique event. Indeed, you could just as easily apply this to the Bobsleigh and Luge as they're events which play in an almost identical manner.
'... there's an awful lot more to the Winter Olympics than this rather sparse collection of events.'
No doubt even the least informed people will know that there's an awful lot more to the Winter Olympics than this rather sparse collection of events. Torino 2006, despite being the 'official' game of the 2006 Winter Olympics, is by no means a comprehensive representation of the games. It even lacks Curling, an event that made Konami's 1998 attempt, a good deal better. It is difficult to see how, with such a high number of events missing, this could be called a game for the Winter Olympics at all.
The issues of legitimacy don't just extend to the number and quality of events. The whole experience of playing the game feels distinctly un-Olympian. One of the fundamentals, one would think, of an 'Olympic' game is the proper recreation of medal ceremonies. Torino 2006 does have them, just not in the way you know them, since they lack medals and national anthems. Moreover, during your 15-event competition you compete against such well know skiers and sleighers as Computer 1, Computer 2 and that formidable opponent, Computer 3, and all their buddies too. Of course, you could play against up to three other human opponents, but if you value your friends, you won't want to put them through this. If you insist on doing so I'd suggest plying them with alcohol or the promise thereof before commencing.
Multiplayer is a relatively simple affair as it's pretty much exactly the same as the single-player experience, except against human opponents. You take turns to set a time (or appropriate measurement) and then your opponents try to beat it. The possibility of split-screen multiplayer is by no means impossible, considering the events available, but there is no option for it. As a result multiplayer is just as dull an experience as single-player.
As already touched upon there is a complete lack of any genuine atmosphere in the game. Crowd effects are uniformly repetitive and are joined typically by the commentary, delivered smugly by two American commentators. If you've ever complained about the quality of commentary in Pro Evolution Soccer then you'll be shocked and appalled at the level at which Torino 2006 stoops. Laugh at the irony as they proclaim the 'Olympian' attitudes of the crowds as they whoop in the same way they have a thousand times previously. The audio simply exudes the same rushed feeling present in the rest of the game.
It's clear that Torino 2006 has been rushed to completion to the great detriment of the final product. Given a lot, and I mean a lot more time there's no reason why Torino 2006 couldn't have been a solid if unspectacular game. As it stands, it's much less than solid; it's poor, in almost all departments. Torino 2006 is too short, too simplistic and too characterless to hold the attention of anyone other than the most masochistic of gamers. If on your first-play you sit down and play through the 15-event single-player competition, it will take in the region of 45 minutes (the game even tells you how long it took). This only goes to prove that there is very little value in Torino 2006. Very few games have left me wanting to do the washing-up rather than play, and Torino 2006 only avoids an even lower score, because it does at least work without any noticeable bugs. Avoid.