London 2012 Review

While it captures the grand feel of the Games, London 2012's dull campaign stops it from taking home the gold.

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The stadia have been built, the athletes are prepared, and London's public transport system has been put into disarray, which can mean only mean one thing: it's time for the Olympic Games. Of course, unless you're at the peak of your physical ability, you won't be competing for your very own gold medal this year. Enter London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games, which attempts to recreate the Olympic experience for mere mortals. While it doesn't have any lasting appeal, London 2012's well thought-out mini-games are mostly entertaining and, at the very least, more reliant on skill and careful timing than mindless button mashing.

In the single-player Olympic mode, you choose from over thirty national teams and attempt to lead them to glory in the Games. Two events are played each day and there are two rounds: qualifiers and finals. The tutorials are brief and informative, but there's no opportunity to really practice the events before you take part in the qualifiers. If you get through, then you repeat the event, but this time with the chance to win medals. Such repetition is dull, especially as you have to pick from a prescribed list of events, and can't skip the ones you don't like. Events mode is much better, because it allows you to create and save playlists of the your favourite events instead.

It's clear from the outset that London 2012 is not a good single-player game. Most of the events can be completed quickly, but the sheer amount of games on offer and the effort it takes to complete one Olympic career don't leave you clambering to start another. It doesn't help that the Olympics are really all about competition, and without someone other than the AI to compete against, the experience falls flat. The game does support Kinect and a party play mode, though, which is its saving grace. The social aspects are akin to games such as Kinect Sports, and there's more satisfaction to be had when you beat a friend or family member to the gold, rather than a faceless AI.

For the most part, the Kinect-compatible minigames, which aren't available in Olympic mode, are a lot of fun. In many of the events, the sensor accurately tracks your motions, and it's easier to use than the control pad. Running in track events requires fast pumping of the arms, and hurdles requires you to jump on the spot--both of which are the kind of fun, responsive gameplay you'd expect from an Olympics tie-in title. But while some Kinect minigames are fine, others are shockingly bad. Events such as beach volleyball and table tennis should be fast-paced and exciting, but they're horribly slow. The experience is dull, with lots of waiting around to hit the ball, which can easily be done with a brief flail, rather than any actual skill.

London 2012 doesn't scrimp on quantity when it comes to the main, controller-compatible games it offers, but some of the 30-odd games are worse than others. Trampoline, vault and diving are nothing more than quicktime events, and scoring can be infuriating, as the judge's temperament seems to vary from round to round. On the other hand, track and field events offer more enjoyment. While there are some shared mechanics between all of these events, there are subtle differences that make each one its own challenge. Button mashing is kept to a minimum in London 2012, and instead carefully timed flicks of the analogue sticks control how far or fast your athlete will go. Mastering each technique takes practice. Sadly, there's little opportunity to do this in the single player campaign, which rushes you through tutorials, and is more intent on teaching you which buttons to press, rather than when you should press them.

There's a variety of swimming events to try out too, and they all use the same control scheme. These events are reliant on you pushing the analogue sticks forward and backwards to build a decent rhythm. Do so successfully and you'll easily win the race; fall out of your rhythm just a little bit and things get tricky. These events are unforgiving, and don't offer much in the way of help if you mess up one of your strokes. The most fun to be had is with Archery. You have to take into account wind speed, direction, gravity and a strict twenty-second time limit, which makes obtaining a high score rewarding. Careful aiming is also needed in skeet and 25m rapid fire pistol shooting, but the controls are sluggish, and frustrating, thanks to a reticule that can't always keep up with the speed of the targets.

There's a running contextual commentary over all the events, and for the most part it's weak, consisting of basic and uninspired phrases. There is some great crowd interaction, though, which makes events all the more exciting, and hearing the raucous rumble of the crowd makes crossing the finish line all the sweeter. For those not content with just winning gold medals, there are opportunities to crack both world and Olympic records too. You can also take the action online, where you pick a country to compete for and post your best scores to a global leaderboard. Competing for your country makes things satisfyingly competitive, even for events like kayaking where you aren't directly challenging opponents.

The presentation is slick, thanks to the bright artwork and realistic athletes. Their animations in particular are very well done, with subtle movements helping you to recognise when to execute that perfect shot or jump. The branding of the Olympics is of course infused everywhere. The logo and font are used at every available opportunity, and the menus and titles bear the garish neon colours from the marketing. Venues such as the ExCeL, Lord's Cricket Ground and the Olympic Stadium have been cheerfully recreated in the game, and the opening ceremony over the skies of London helps to set the scene and build excitement for the real thing. It's a real shame that so much effort has been put into creating the look and feel of the Games, and yet there are no likenesses of actual athletes.

While London 2012: The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games may have a ridiculously long title, it doesn't have such a long lasting appeal. An emphasis on its dull single-player campaign, rather than the more entertaining party play mode, fails to make the most of the competitive spirit of the Olympics. There's some fun to be had with friends, but even then the uneven quality of its minigames means that as soon as the Olympics are over, London 2012 will lose its allure.

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The Good
Some fun, well-thought-out minigames
Encapsulates the excitement of the Games
The Bad
No lasting appeal
Dull solo campaign
No practice mode
6.5
Fair
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Discussion

24 comments
Warmuro
Warmuro

Only bad thing about game is it's really difficult to play with a keyboard on pc.

willow576
willow576

the kinect feature is terrible, but playing with your friends is fun. no matter what nation you comes from

o016945
o016945

I will say this. If you have friend or the ability to play online, then this is no doubt one of the best Olympic games to get. Sure it lacks some depth in its execution, but being competitive with others surely brings the joy that seems to be missing. This is standard with any Olympics game though. The mini games are fun, well thought out, and there's subtle variety that keeps everything from becoming stale. That says more than most other games of its type.

GhostofWar75
GhostofWar75

i think if the atmosphere is there it might be fun to play.

shrapnel-grant
shrapnel-grant

i didnt read the review and im not going too, lol, so sorry if it's stated above

 

Thanks again

shrapnel-grant
shrapnel-grant

can you use the Kinect with all the sports in this game, if not how many work with the Kinect thanks :)

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

It really does capture the atmosphere and excitement of the games, something that the previous games failed to do, that's what I liked most about it. Beyond that it's no more than a mini-game compilation (although they are more thought out than the Beijing '08 ones). 

bowpet
bowpet

not better than Beijing 2008

Hurvl
Hurvl

Even if the game isn't that great, it's good that there are alternative box covers for this game, because the olympic games isn't considered the greatest sports competition in the world, because USA is participating in it.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

I guess the review is fair.

 

I still think these kinds of games are some of the most boring things ever conceived by man though.

itchyflop
itchyflop

all athletics games button bashing or not are fantastic fun with 4 of your pals, if you can play 4 player online against other human players this will be awesome. It could have been better but then most games could. A fair effort from sega and not forgetting it has kine-ct and motion controller capability. I will be purchasing this and enjoying some pims and BRITISH Olympic fun with my chums.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

This is by far the best Olympic based game in the history of console gaming. Whilst I agree with some of Lucy's comments ( commentary, dull single player ) I think there is a lot of replay value. My wife and older 2 kids regular join me for an 8 event "event list" of an evening where we pick two events each and spend the next hour or so splitting our sides when the vaulter falls flat on their face etc etc. I tad harsh on the score I think

ssorrekrab
ssorrekrab

Yep figured thats the way it would go.  Nice review Lucy.

Goriza
Goriza

I guess they made a game very easy to play.

Best olympic game is Sydney 2000 on this one you needed to be faster then the others

boags24
boags24

 @shrapnel-grant Why don't you stop being so lazy and inept and read the damn article, it's not hard.Hell, even use ctrl + f if you have to.

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

 @naryanrobinson I remember loving California Games when I was a kid. In retrospect it wasn't very good, but at the time I had a blast playing all the mini-games.

 

I can see this being this generation's California Games. It's actually surprisingly difficult as a parent to find decent kid-friendly games that are actually good.

capper64
capper64

 @SadPSPAddict I think 6.5 seems quite fair for this game. Remember that's still above average, and you seem to agree with the same flaws the reviewer pointed out.

Hurvl
Hurvl

No, I'm from Sweden. We're not having much success, but that's beside the point. I just wanted to point out the fact that not everything has to be about USA, especially when the host town is in another country. That's why I'm glad that there are different box covers for different regions.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

 @capper64 Indeed I do agree with some of the flaws - just don't think the flaws are worth docking it so many points. I'd go a 7 or maybe even 7.5 myself but hey - opinions vary!

bmart970
bmart970

I thought you meant that the reason the Olympic Games are not the greatest sporting competition only because the USA is in them.

bmart970
bmart970

 @Hurvl Oh, I'm sorry, I misunderstood. I thought you were some jerk who just hates the USA. I understand where you're coming from now.

SadPSPAddict
SadPSPAddict

 @DrBob27 Or maybe I know how to have fun with my family! All 6 of us are big gamers but it's rare to find a game that we can all enjoy together like this one!! Can see us playing it for months to come, hence lots of fun and hence good value for money and those things are what drives a score in my opinion!

London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games More Info

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  • First Released
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    London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games lets you experience what it would be like to be in the Olympic Games.
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    Developed by:
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    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
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