numbthumb's Vancouver 2010: The Official Videogame of the Winter Olympic Games (Xbox 360) review

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Better than you'd expect, which isn't saying all to much.

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VANCOUVER 2010 Review

(360 & PS3)

The Olympics haven’t seen a good game tie in since Nintendo had that pad you could run on, in fact, it’s so long ago I’m not even certain that was a real Olympic tie-in. Twenty years is a long time, but with games like Beijing Olympics it’s not a surprise people would rather ignore these titles. You’ll be surprised then to learn that Vancouver 2010 suceeds where that game and many others failed so miserably. It’s not perfect, but it’s a vast improvement in many areas.

Most of which is the competent race design. Boarding, skiing, sledding, skeleton, speed skating and aerials all handle more or less intuitively. Simple controls make the game easy to wrap your head around, often requiring no more than one or two buttons to perform the duties required. Things like aerials are a little more focused on time presses, which add only slight depth, but the system works well and is easy enough for anyone to pick up and play. Skiing and snowboarding are perhaps the most fluid of all the competitions feeling like you can gain real speed and carve like you’d expect a racer would in real life.

One thing that holds back 2010 from being really good is an astonishingly lack of levels. Snowboard-cross, alpine, and some others all take place on one or two tracks. It becomes too repetitive to keep your interest for long durations as a result. There’s only 14 sports in total as well, making this feel all the more repetitive as you tackle races. Furthermore, the actual Olympic Games are often relegated to no more than 1 or 2 heats, marking your total time. At the end, you either get gold or you don’t, and given that the trophies and achievement all correspond to each and every race there’s really little incentive to come back to any of them once you’re done.

There’s no player creator, only a small selection of countries to choose from and then you’re given either a male or female athlete. It’s this lack of production that makes the game fall into that bargain bin category. What are the Olympic Games with creating your own squad for your country and competing over the course of two weeks?

It might not sound like I’m giving you reason to play the game, but bear with me, it’s not all bad. I found a great amount of enjoyment in the Challenge mode; three tiers of tasks involving all the sports. Their fun twists on the sports, where you’re tasked with special things like not knocking down snowmen, or keeping speeds over 90 km/h. These challenges will likely make up the bulk of your playing time, so it’s a good thing there’s a fair amount of them, and many you’ll have to attempt many times before mastering.

Which brings me to another issue that needs to be brought up. Difficulty, both in challenges and regular Olympic competitions. You will eventually have all the courses down pat by memory in short time, but that’s the little saving grace you’ll have because anything short of a perfect run and you’ll land second to the best. Sometimes not even a flawless ride will do that for you. The choice to slow down your racer in most challenges when you miss a gate or are slow to jump becomes wholly frustrating and unrealistic. Instead of using second counter penalties to dock off your total time, like in real sports, the game just slows you down to a snail’s pace instead. Most of the time a single happening of this and your race is over, you can’t make up the time. It’s a poor choice that holds the game back immensely, especially since a lot of people interested in this would be young kids looking to embrace sport. Such an unapologetic approach isn’t what this game should have.

Truth be told, Vancouver 2010 is actually a decent title, the sports are fun and easy to grasp even if they’re all fairly punishing. Sound controls and a long list of challenges will give gamers something to task themselves with that they can enjoy for a least a little while. It’s the lack of depth and the difficulty where this game finds its short comings, but it’s probably a worthwhile rental for some. Just be sure to check out the short list of sports – because you’ll be disappointed by the variety.

SCORES:

THE GAMEPLAY: Solid mechanics and intuitive controls make the sports feel real enough. But the lack of variety between them hurts it. 7/10

THE PRODUCTION: Essentially there are no choices, no design, and little care in creating any sense of this being an actual world event.  The Challenges are the best touch to it all. 5/10

THE SOUND: Interestingly enough the game has some good music even though it’s exactly what you wouldn’t expect at the Olympics. Sounds effects are pretty good too for all the sports. 7/10

THE GRAPHICS: Only so-so. They meet the average and I didn’t see any type of glitches or bad draw in. 7/10

THE LASTING APPEAL: It’s short, the competition you’ll only play until you get gold. The challenges however should keep you interested for the duration of a 3 or 5 day rental. 5/10

GRADE 62%

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