Extreme Gamer heads to the digital version of British Columbia to find out if SEGA's Vancouver 2010 will make it onto the podium.
In all the years that we have been slugging through these Olympic games, not one has stood out as strong as other sporting titles. Unlike other sports games, this popular test of sporting superiority is often under-treated, lacking the dedication, or the passion that it would take to make the game edition one tenth as interesting as the real event. What SEGA has produced for the 2010 in Vancouver (Go, Canada) is only a small taste of what the Winter Olympics is all about, and yes, the effort was valiant. But, at the end of the day, Vancouver 2010 comes off as unforgettable, and ultimately disappointing.
In Vancouver 2010, 14 events are included for your enjoyment. The events are mainly skiing, skating, and bobsleighing events, which means you will be missing other excellent events like curling, figure skating, and hockey. Now, I would not expect 'Eurocom' to build a full hockey game inside of Vancouver 2010, but curling and figure skating, sure! Hopefully is no reflection on Eurocom being a European developer, and lacking the passion that a Canadian developer would have given the project this year. In Canada the Olympics are hot as Vancouver’s Mountainside gears up for a lot of action in the upcoming days.
For specifics here is the rundown of events in Vancouver 2010.
- Alpine Skiing (Men & Woman -- Giant Slalom, Slalom, Downhill, and Super G)
- Snowboarding (Men — Parallel Giant Slalom, Snowboard Cross)
- Ski Jumping (Men—Individual Large Hill)
- Sledding (Men – Two-Man Bobsleigh, Luge, Skeleton)
- Freestyle Skiing (Men & Woman – Aerials, Ski Cross)
- Speed Skating (Women – 500m and 1’500m).
The 14 included events are fairly interesting to get into. However, after you run through all the events once or twice, the motivation to continue with your Olympic hopes, starts to dwindle. Aside from achievement/trophy hunting, trying to land a high leaderboard score, or the challenge mode (I'll get to that in a second), Vancouver 2010 is dull, bare bones, and ultimately boring. The lack of any type of career mode, or progression mode, makes competing almost seem pointless. On top of all this in the normal play through, you only go against four random nationalities which are simply not enough. I would rather come in 8th, or 10th, than finish 4th all the time.
Not having any motivation to stick with the normal game modes, Vancouver 2010 forces the player into the 'Challenge Events', which end up being the most interesting aspect of Vancouver 2010. In the challenge mode, you can take on three different mountains with specific challenges to be in each area. These include everything from hitting top speeds, to racing down a track with reversed controls. All the challenges aren't too challenging, but some are delightfully frustrating, and a little too challenging.
...with the Touch of a Button
Each event is plays similar to each other with a few minor adjustments to the controls. The set-up is player friendly with options always available to restart the event, or run through the tutorial present at all times. In my first play through, I hit up all the events, and had to go through the tutorial each time. It was a little time consuming, but once you do it once, you will have the hang of things. The controls are very streamlined and only require a few button presses. The most complicated event in Vancouver 2010 would be the 'Aerials' which initials you to finesse the thumbsticks in rotations. It's not rocket science, and most gamers will be able to pick up and run with it. However, obtaining Gold medals--- well, that is trickier than it seems.
The Sights & Sounds of Vancouver
Unexpectedly, the graphics in Vancouver 2010 are excellent, and way above what I envisioned. The images are crystal clear with an excellent amount of detail in the surroundings and characters to look convincing. The sense of speed in wonderful portrayed with stellar motion and blur effects, making for some exhilarating moments like dangerously sleighing down the Blackcomb Mountain’s in Whistler, or skiing in clear conditions of Whistler Creekside Mountain. Vancouver 2010 looks great, and is the best “looking” Olympics game I have played.
The only area, which is lacking in the graphics department, is the extreme pageantry that goes along with the sporting event. There are a few tidbits included, but nearly not enough to make the game feel as if you are watching it on TV. One addition that is noteworthy is the new 'first-person camera' viewpoint. Playing through with this perspective turned on puts you right into the moment. The first-person perspective is not going to be for everyone as it can be slightly nauseating in some events. Even so, a nice addition makes me respect the athletes even more than I already do. Man, some of these sports are down right nuts!
The sound is not as impressive as the graphics, but it is still very solid. There are a number of popular music tracks pumping in the background along with a combination of sound effects, orchestral sections, and even each countries national anthem. I was most impressed with the cutting noises of the downhill skiing. However, as you might expect it wears thin after a while. Audio wise Vancouver 2010 is exactly what I expected. The nice touch here is how the whole package comes together to be surprisingly sharp.
It's a Small World After All
Representing your country at the Olympics is a proud moment for the patriotic at heart. Gaining a spot on the podium is cool to see, and a nice reward. However, we are missing over 60 countries that are competing at the 2010 Olympic Games. Obviously Canada, and the United States are present, as they are featured on the North American cover art, and other popular countries are included like Japan, Finland, China, Great Britain, Australia, but what about Jamaica (Cool Runnings... anyone?!), Turkey, Pakistan, Greece, Hungry, and list goes on. This means 58 countries are not included, and if you of one of the missing Nationalities, this game might feel even more hollow. Really, how hard is it to add another flag as an icon?
SEGA’s Vancouver 2010 is not going to be climbing the podium of gaming excellent this year. There simply is not enough of a game here to make Vancouver 2010 worth revisiting multiple times. The core foundation of what they built is excellent, but after you run the events a few times, Vancouver 2010 lack of variety and depth will put this one on the shelf. It is really the limited amount of events, missing countries, and general variety in the events really puts a damper on competing, because otherwise the graphics and game mechanics get the job done. It is too bad more effort wasn’t put into this game because the Olympics simply deserve better. Vancouver 2010 is simply too stripped down to put this in the buy category, a weekend rental will be more than enough to get your fill of Olympic fever.
Gameplay:6.0, Graphics:8.0, Sound:7.0, Innovation:5.0, Mojo:6.0 Final: 6.4 / 10
Reviewed by C.Boutilier | 01.25.10