Only play this if you're doing a science fair project on broken, unplayable games and the link to teen depression.
(-) all the mini-games are corrupted with unplayable controls; the game-play involves very little interactivity and even less fun; the mediocre graphics are detracted from by on-screen button commands; annoying music and no other sound whatsoever; this puts a bad impression on what could really be really fun winter sports; have I made my point how disastrous this is yet?
Some may consider me to be a hard gamer to please. That is not the case at all. I enjoy a good game as much as the next person, and have even liked others that nobody else in my social network would even give a chance (see: Deer Drive). Others may get the impression that I'm pretty harsh with my reviews, only looking for games to flame upon in my own regards to make myself feel powerful. Once again, that's a misunderstanding. In fact, I just love reviewing craptacular games from time to time, not necessarily deriving pleasure from playing with them but more from voicing my opinion to millions who probably agree. And what we have here, could possibly be the worst game I have ever played in my lifetime so far.
ESPN International Winter Sports 2002 is an equal opportunity game, what I mean is whether you're into competitive sports, casual mini-games, or heated high speed action, this game will be an equal disappointment to all. It doesn't matter how much time you spend watching the annual winter sports broadcasts on ESPN, this game will still be a total waste of time.
After putting this trash-heap in your disc tray after being duped into buying it at Gamestop from looking at the convincing cover art, you're greeted with bland, uninteresting and generic menus accompanied favorably by a repugnant cheery theme song. The music isn't completely terrible the first time you hear it, but you'll more than likely grow weary after hearing it just a second time, and you're out of luck because you'll be hearing that same obnoxious loop every time you return to the menu. You might be better off turning your television set mute, because there really aren't any other sound effects in the game to speak of. What's there are over-used and bland sounds layered over the numerous sports mini-games, and they add nothing to the imaginary excitement you're pretending to have as you wait to turn your system off.
In this composition of forgettable frustration, there are a total of 10 athletic events that were pulled from the winter games. Most of them can be played with either a male or a female, but few of them can only be played by one gender. After selecting your event, you choose from a selection of persons representing different countries. Then you watch your chosen character look directly at you and mumble their mouth as if they were speaking, but don't bother turning the sound back up, nothing can be heard. This is awkward to watch and infuriating after a while, and it only makes it more obvious that the developers are being lazy as they were programming through this game.
The first completely unplayable events are Downhill and Slalom. You take a skier and ride down a snowy hill, and make you're way between two poles consecutively until the finish. Well, there are many things that make this difficult. First of all, your turning ability is over-sensitive, so its hard to go in a solid direction. Second, you'll have to memorize the entire hill and all the checkpoints in order to make it in decent time. This event can be fun for the first ten seconds, but it's likely that you'll be frustrated after being disqualified three or four times for hitting a checkpoint ahead of the one before it, and you'll never return to it again.
The second unplayable events are Individual Ski Jumping K90 and K120. These events are completely similar except the distance you must jump. The manual claims you use A to check wind, tap A and B to increase the speed and jump distance, and L to jump and again to land. It sounds simple to begin with, but I could not even leave the damn platform. My racer kept getting disqualified toward the beginning of the match, and it isn't like the game clarifies what I was doing wrong anyway. So I can't really say much about the playability of this event, because I never got the chance to even try it out. It's complicated to the brink of disaster and you would think the least they could have done was make this a playable even, never mind go check out SSX Blur or something because it blows this garbage thinly disguised as game-play out of the water.
The third unplayable events are moguls and freestyle skiing. In these comparable events, you have absolutely no control over your rider, and you only have the ability to press the left and right trigger buttons in time with a sliding bar. You use the control stick to perform trick. It's completely brainless why you don't get to interact with your skater, and all you have to do is button mash. You don't even get the pleasure of watching your generic looking skier slide down a generic looking hill, because your eyes will be fixated to the top of the screen and you feel no involvement with the performance of the slightest. So it's easy to sit and wonder why you're even bothering to play, and like many other events, you'll never bother running through it again. And two more events, Halfpipe and Snowboarding, play almost congruently with these events and its difficult to even tell them apart save the difference piece of equipment you're riding on.
The fourth unplayable event is speed skating and 500m. Once again, you have no direct control over your skater, button mashing between A and B to maintain a certain speed, slowing down at curves. It makes no sense because this event could have been at least decent if you could actually maneuver on your own, but these overly "simplified" controls really drain out what kind of fun anyone could possibly have with what seems like a simple and traditional event. And what's more aggravating, you're supposedly racing against seven other racers, but you only see one other person skating on the track. So not only will you never be able to tell if you're in the lead, just thinking about it doesn't make much sense. But then again, what does in this game?
Now Bobsleigh isn't too bad, but still nothing you're likely to consider a worthy reason to purchase this game. You and a team of others push the sled as toy alternately tap the A and B buttons, and as you gain speed press the L button to have the entire team jump in. Then finally you have direct control of the sleigh, through a very narrow passage and some pretty slow turning controls. This is one of the better of the events, but really that's not much of a saving grace since all the events thus far are unmistakably abysmal.
Another that is at least playable is curling, but it's so slow paced and takes to long that you won't care to play it. You aim your control stick with the direction pad, and press A to make a delivery. Then it seems a group of other other players jump from nowhere and push the puck to the target. Why your player couldn't handle pushing the puck on his own is nothing short of baffling. You hold the L button to speed up the game, which does almost nothing since this entire even is made up of four parts, for you and your opponent, and if you actually sit through it could take at least 15 minutes to complete!
And probably the best event in this wretched package is figure skating, but need I remind you that doesn't give it much credit. A woman figure skates, and you have to press different buttons on the D-pad that move down on the side of the screen in order to perform tricks, which makes this more of a rhythm game than anything else. Even though it is playable, it probably won't hold your interest for long. Especially since you once again have to keep your eyes locked at the side of the screen, so you don't even get a view of the action.
The graphics are about as bland and generic as the entire game. There are only 16 different people to choose from, and they each have very few animations and variety in their appearances. Maybe that doesn't matter much, because you won't ever get the chance to look at them directly anyway. The environments fare a little better, but they're still well off-par with what is expected on the Gamecube or other 6th generation system, and fail to impress.
Of course there's a multiplayer mode, but you'll probably hit your pillow the next night with remorse that you put your friend through it, and they'll avoid visiting your house for months to come. But I rest my case. There is absolutely no reason to play ESPN International Winter Sports 2002. The events are nearly unplayable, I got last place in each event, even the ones I thought I knew how to play, there is very little interactivity, the graphics are shabby and can't be focused much on anyway, the sound is annoying, and there is absolutely no incentive to play no matter how much of a philosophical or forgiving saint you claim to be. This whole thing must have been tied together as some kind of gimmick, thinking people will buy it because the ESPN logo is on the cover, or they have a hard one for the television programming on the network, but as a game its an atrocious combination of un-interactive and unplayable, uninteresting and un-amusing, unsightly and unsoundly, and pretty much any other word with the "un-" suffix would also be appropriate. I cannot make it any clearer, stay away from this game.