Every four years, a city calls upon all its people to host one of the world’s biggest events. This year we can expect the Winter Olympics in Vancouver next to the World Soccer Championship in South Africa. The last snow is already melting away here, but in Canada the winter fun is to begin with this game.
You can put your hand in fire for it, games based on the Olympics are drenched in an arcade style where simple quick-time events and some button bashing are all that is needed. Also this time you’ll have to complete multiple disciplines this way, eventhough I have to admit that timing and precision also play a large role this year.
When starting up Vancouver 2010 the fun immediately gets turned down by the number of options you can choose from, or rather the lack of them. Next to training, Olympics and Challenges you can only choose to watch the credits. Next to that the training mode is almost identical to the Olympics with as only difference the possibility for a medal.
Also the amount of disciplines and different events has remained quite limited. In total there’s 14 of them, divided over 8 disciplines. The worst part of this is that almost half of these are identical. Just take the Snowboard cross and Ski cross as example. In both races you’ll go over the same track where you get identical controls and the only difference is whether you’re on a snowboard or skis. The same goes for bob sled and skeleton, slalom with skis or snowboard and skating 500m or 1500m. And on top of that almost all ski and bob sled disciplines are on the same track.
Unfortunately not all sports that will be shown in Vancouver are added in this game. You won’t be able to fight against your opponents in a game of ice hockey, brush like a madman with curling, parade like a peacock in figure skating or shoot during the langlauf discipline biathlon. It’s clear SEGA hasn’t taken four years of preparation for this game.
What makes the game avoid total humiliation are the so-called challenges. Here you need to complete certain tasks like evading snowmen in a descent, going past a certain speed limit or manage to get a specific average. The thirty-something challenges can quickly be finished and are relatively easy (trophy hunters go ahead) but this is only a small band aid for the wound.
Luckily there’s a multiplayer part, not that I’ll be playing it with friends, which supports split-screen, LAN and online. Online you can join one of the servers or even set up a private game that’s closed or open for strangers, play the game in one of the five supported languages (what’s the use of this?), use a microphone and finally choose how many opponents you want to take on (2 tot 4). All pretty basic stuff.
Graphically the game looks solid with pretty detailed surroundings and realistically fluffy white snow. However, they don’t quite correspond with the atmosphere as the game completely lacks all traces of a soul. All surroundings are completely empty, it looks like the athletes are puppets and I really couldn’t feel the combat spirit and commotion of the Olympics. The soundtrack goes from the catchy opening song by Sum41 to the fantastic slip-up “I like it when you touch me”.
It’s quite a shame that after all these years such games still lack variation and innovation. The gameplay and controls as such aren’t bad but there’s too little diversity to talk about a good game. The lack of some top sports and modes and total absense of excitement make that Vancouver 2010 completely fails. Luckily lovers of the Winter Olympics still have something to look forward to in February as this game is better left alone.