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Game Review: Vancouver 2010 (PS3)

Ah… Olympic games to me always give me memories of soar fingers after hours of button mashing, but in general I’ve felt the Winter Games’ attempts of official Game-dum never quite hit the heights of Summer Olympics. Can Vancouver 2010 change that?

The Premise

Well its Winter Olympics time and that means lots of snow, ice, skiing and jumping, with maybe a sleigh and skate thrown in for good measure. All in the name of multiplayer fun of course… a a gold medal!

The Gameplay

The first thing that I saw was the event total…14. Not impressive. Then I saw what the events were! 6  of them were skiing/boarding games which are split into two distinct types. The faster ones which aiming for the gates is paramount without braking and the slower technical ones which is more about the carving of skis and turns. Sadly the controls are all the same. Next up is the ski-jump which also has similar controls, as does the Ski Cross event which is effectively a race. Then we have Ladies Aerials which puts a bit of a spin on things by twisting the analogue sticks instead of just needing L2 and R2 to steer. Then we have two speed skating events which unfortunately are almost identical except for length except for a stamina part in the 1500m. Then to finish off we have Luge, Skeleton and Bobsleigh which again share identical controls and although each event has different physics, its the same course for all three and so it just takes two or three gos to start getting things right. I wouldn’t have minded the repeats at all had there been some more events to get things really ice cool, but there’s just little here and what’s here is samey. At least online it runs perfectly fine and it is quite interesting to be in a downhill race while seeing everyone else skiing around you in coloured shadows, but again its limited to groups of 4.

The Graphics

Graphics are in general pretty good. The pre-amble stuff is always great and I enjoyed what it added to the tension, but there’s been some shortcuts, such as if you crash out and there’s no motion, you see all the crowd people are very, very fuzzy and very 2-D sprite! When things are going though, its smooth and clear.

The Sound

Sound is something Vancouver 2010 has got right. The soundtrack is great with that middle-of-the-road indie rock pumping out full of Red Bull. Sound effects are good too – however…there is no commentary at all, and it sounds a bit empty without it.

The Replay Factor

Here’s where the rot sets in. Olympic mode is awful, there’s no career element like Bejing. It’s just play and finish. You can take it online which is where I’ve had by far the most fun, and to be honest, when there’s four of you gunning down the slope – yes it is very fun, but it just lacks that something. Bejing had it.  Winter Sports 2008 on the PS2 and Wii had it. Hell even Winter Games on my ZX Spectrum had it! It’s just very hollow. There is a challenge mode which is where most of the attention seems to have gone, in creating a few strange challenges like its some trickster arcade mode, and this is also where most of the trophies come from. It doesn’t fit in with the game well and feels disjointed, but the challenges do increase in difficulty (and the AI is quite good too). All the replay factor will be online and/or with friends infront of you.

The Positives

~PS3 glossy graphics

The Negatives

~Sheer lack of events and diversity in controls

~No commentary

~Has an empty personality

The Verdict

Oh how I wanted a decent Winter Olympics game… but its not going to come with Vancouver 2010. It’s just a shame as it seems to have started off well, and then fallen off somewhere into the cutting room floor. Also there is the cheaper Winter Sports 2010 that came out the same day. I’ll be reviewing that tomorrow so everyone can make direct comparisions. Ultimately Vancouver 2010 is not about what that game has, its all about what the game hasn’t.

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