As a sports game and one that just so happens to represent the biggest sports event in the world, London 2012 Olympics fails to make an immediate impression that is overwhelmingly positive. The game does its best at adapting a variety of events in video game form, but ultimately none of them stand out since they feel repetitive and aren’t that much fun. Lacking any immediate charm, enjoyment and everything else that makes for a fun game doesn’t help London 2012 Olympics as it’s ultimately a shallow experience that feels like it’s half a game.
+ None of the games are too complex in such a way that it’s annoying to play.
+ Visuals are decent for what they are and don’t look last-gen terrible.
+ Some of the events do a decent job at replicating the rhythmic nature found in the actual sport.
- Main Olympic mode is lackluster as it doesn’t represent the celebratory nature of the event.
- The various sports events may be different their nature, but the controls and game mechanics don’t do a good job at representing such a thing.
- Replayability is limited since the online modes are rather bare bones and there isn’t much to do other than Trophy/Achievement hunt.
- A few key sports are missing such a fencing which would’ve worked quite well in the game and provided nice variety.
There aren’t too many things in the world which can have millions or in some cases a billion or so people completely enamored and unified in a sense. With some countries favoring certain types of sports compared to others (such as the lack of appeal North America has for European soccer) it’s kind of understandable why the world isn’t one big happy family as dreamt of in things like Star Trek. But outside of traumatic events, the world does occasionally band together in a slightly competitive but friendly way through the Olympic games. The mere fact that the Summer Olympics have been going on since 1896 is amazing and so is the fact that for a month people from various walks of life come together to see who’s the best at sports like volleyball or table tennis. With that said the Sega’s attempt at nailing the Olympic glory in London 2012 Olympics sadly doesn’t result in an experience in which gamers can come together and experience something amazing as the game is honestly a bit dour and unfocused.
For those who haven’t played any of the Olympic games in the past, either of the Summer or Winter variety, the series has had a history similar to that of games based on established movie/TV licenses. Ok, so that may make the Olympic games to sound more brutal than they have been, but they’ve never actually had the feel of a high-quality sports game like FIFA or Madden from EA and instead have felt like it was a simple cash-in of a popular license. However, with the grand Summer Olympics set in London it does seem like Sega has stepped their game up ever so slightly as the experience does feel improved but in the end it’s not the grand game that represents the Olympics as they should be via the wonder of video games.
As one would expect there isn’t a whole lot in London 2012 Olympics other than competing in sports and in turn trying to win the ever desired Gold Medal. That in itself isn’t too bad, but upon playing the game and experiencing the different sports that are represented I couldn’t help but feel like something was lacking. With a very cut and dry layout, it feels like some of the luster and that special aura found in the actual games is missing like athletes being over eager in a drop-dead cute way and instead what gamers have is a vast collection of games, which are essentially mini-games to be honest, that are strung together in an almost loose fashion.
It may have been impossible to do a story mode per say for the Olympics as certain nations would have to be omitted, but I couldn’t help but feel that something else could’ve been done other than the playing the go-to Olympic mode which simply allowed me to pick a nation and subsequently pick events to compete in. There’s absolutely no pizazz or showmanship to any of the events beyond the rather visually appealing loading animations which feature stylized art that “seamlessly” loads into the actual event location. I know that the Olympics aren’t really the source of flash since everything is mostly drop-dead serious most of the time, but there’s honestly a lack of character in the actual competitors, who aren’t modeled on any real athletes, and the same can be said of the locations which despite staying true to their real-world counterparts simply don’t pop out as much as they could have.
London 2012 Olympics is a graphically modest game with some solid character models but everything simply feels flat. Characters lack any true emotion upon winning and there isn’t much to get hyped about on the end of the player as seeing a generic looking athlete isn’t as exciting as seeing Usain Bolt totally flip out after proving he’s still the fastest man in the world. The athletes represented in the game may look good, despite appearing as if they came out of a generic clone factory, but there’s no real connection to them as small graphical effects are omitted like sweat or obvious muscle flexing that would’ve sold their strength and physicality more.
For a brief moment I got a sense of power upon seeing an Olympic weight lifter be a boss and lift 210kg like it was nothing, but the fine details of such a thing are missing so in the end it doesn’t have that oomph it ought to have. Also, maybe I’m just being morbid as I sometimes can be, but the game also seems to be lacking in the animation department as failing a weight lift event doesn’t result in a “I broke my elbow man” moment but instead simply results in a disappointing “I’ve brought shame to my country” type look.
The actual glory of the Olympics is exponentially lost in the actual events, which are basically the heart of the whole thing. With 11 core sports represented ranging from swimming, gymnastics, and even skeet shooting there is some nice variety but everything is simply average to mediocre. It’s almost like the game is trying to be a jack of all trades by offering things like volleyball and the 200 meter run but in the end the experience offered simply isn’t enough to either be engaging or actually fun. The key problem with the events and sports featured in the game is that despite being radically different from one another they really don’t stand out in the gameplay department. Whether I was running down the track of the Olympic stadium or trying to row like a madman in a kayak, I often found myself doing the same analog stick based motions or rapid tapping of the cross button while trying to stay within a certain gauge.
Now I’m not totally crazy as I didn’t expect the development team at Sega Australia to provide half a dozen different gameplay controls for the sports as that would’ve resulted in a game that would be too difficult to master. But honestly, there’s simply no charm or even skill in any of the games other than doing one or two control inputs and hoping that you get lucky in the end. Perhaps I’m being a bit too hard on the game as there are one or two events that do require some skill, particularly the archery and the shooting events. But in the end even those events are ruled by the matter of luck in a few cases due to controls that feel a bit unresponsive and sluggish, just like the most of the other events in the game. There aren’t too many control issues within the game, other than how everything borrows the same core elements, but in events like the ever exciting trampoline in Gymnastics I did feel a disconnect as my button inputs didn’t seem to be received or even worse there was an almost unjustly fair small window to press the circle button so my chiseled but short male gymnastic would do his flip maneuver.
Events like the backstroke in swimming required me to be rhythmic with my pressing of the left and right analog sticks in its attempt to evoke the movement of the swimmers arms, but it’s still boring. If playing a track and field event like the 400m run is boring and not enjoyably frantic in a classic Track & Field “omg I need to press the buttons as fast as possible and use a pencil to do so” sort of way then you know the experience at hand is incredibly flawed. Like I said there are some sports in which I did feel a feeling of skill such as swimming but such a minute amount of enjoyment was instantly swept away upon playing the overly floaty feeling table tennis or the woefully executed volleyball, which for some reason doesn’t allow you to switch between partners when playing solo.
Given how simple the main Olympic based mode is in the game there isn’t a whole lot to do to keep yourself busy if you actually want a deep sports experience. The online offerings are rather basic. The game does track the amount of medals earned by players across the globe, but such a thing isn't pushed or featured heavily in any capacity, thus there's no cool meta game to experience. So with that online feature being M.I.A. there’s not much to do other than compete against players in simple online events which can be exciting in a few cases but again I never felt like something was truly on the line. Team events are offered but doing such a thing will simply lead to two people being disappointed as opposed to one.
Running the gamut of events in the main Olympic mode can be accomplished rather easily so unless you’re fascinated with performing the perfect trampoline or vault routine then there’s not a lot else to do. In some ways I do think the game suffers from not having more events as that would’ve obviously helped the longevity of the game and perhaps the overall variety. The fact that fencing isn’t included is definitely an odd omission and so is the lack of things like basketball or even field hockey. I wouldn’t say that the sports the game includes feels like a hot list of everything that’s popular since I’ve never heard of a craze surrounding Keirin (the crazy indoor bike riding event), but I think having one or two more niche events would’ve mixed things up just right.
As much as I wanted to enjoy the game version of London 2012 Olympics, the game just never finds a perfect pace and doesn’t provide one or two events that are simply addicting. My displeasure in the game isn’t mainly because that weird anime looking Olympic 2012 mascots of horror aren’t included, but it simply rests in how the game feels like it’s almost half a product.
It does seem like Sega Australia put some thought into a few things but it also felt like they either creatively stretched themselves or knew that they didn’t have the time or the budget to give us half a dozen events that feel wholly unique. Compared to past Olympic games I do think the Olympics are represented slightly better in London 2012, but in the end it’s still not good enough to keep gamers interested enough that it’s worthy of a Gold medal or even a Bronze for that matter.