Admit it, before you even started reading this review, you’d already made a negative assumption regarding London 2012. Most gamers will share the mentality that Olympics games are basic, dull games, but that’s where London 2012 comes in as a bit of a surprise packet. Sega Studios Australia has re-invented the typical button-mashing frenzy that we’re used to in favour of a more skillful rhythmic system – it’s through this that players may actually find some degree of enjoyment in the game, particularly with friends.
What London 2012 Got Right
Simple, yet skillful control scheme – Winning the 100m sprint does not simply come down to who can mash the buttons on their controller the fastest anymore, rather who can find the best button-tapping rhythm to build the most speed. For example, pressing X (or whatever corresponding button your chosen system allows you to press) repeatedly will fill up a speed gauge, with yellow, green and red indicating the player’s pace. If the player is pressing X too slow, the bar will be coloured yellow, and if too fast, it will turn red. Both of these colours signify a stagnant pace, meaning that you are not building speed.
Finding the correct rhythm to keep the bar at a constant stream of green is what players need to strive for, as this is the only way to gain speed. The speed gauge is not only limited to sprinting events, however, as you’ll also find it used in the javelin, long jump, triple jump and a host of other events. It is through this simple yet somewhat skillful mechanic that London 2012 really allows you to immerse yourself and feel like a part of the event.
Wide range of events to choose from - Selecting “Events Play” on the main menu allows you to choose from every Olympic event the game has to offer, and even lets you load them into a playlist capable of holding up to eight events, removing the trouble of having to constantly stop and start the game. Players can choose from a diverse list of events, such as shot put and hurdles to archery or table tennis.
You’ll find almost all of the events you’d recognise here, and some actually prove to be quite a bit of fun upon mastery (I’ll get to that in the next paragraph, don’t worry). The ability to save and load previous playlists is also a welcome addition, especially when playing with friends, and shows the extra effort Sega Studios Australia have put into the game.
Some events are genuinely fun to play – It just so happens that the trickier events, such as table tennis and kayaking, are two of the most fun to play. There’s actually quite a bit of depth implemented in the table tennis system – the amount of topspin or slice depends on how far the right analog stick is flung, and the AI here actually seems to possess a small amount of intelligence.
Kayaking is also another event that is surprisingly complex – players must paddle through the downstream green gates using the left thumbstick, however at certain points red upstream gates may be encountered, where the player must press R2 to complete a U-turn-esque maneuver to pass through it. The option to “power stroke” by pressing the X button is given to the player, however “power strokes” run on stamina and you’ll be unable to use them if your stamina meter runs out.
What London 2012 Got Wrong
Lack of career mode/ability to follow athlete through the Olympics – London 2012 doesn’t feature a career option or anything of the sort, instead featuring an “Olympic Games” mode that is far too short, and several tedious playthroughs are needed to complete all of the events in the game. A great idea would perhaps be to implement an “Olympian” mode, or something rather, where the player can follow a champion athlete on their journey to Olympic gold. This would add a huge amount of replayability to the game, as only one sport would be focused on, and would give players a genuine feeling of accomplishment.
Lack of replayability – It’s all well and good playing through the events on your first playthrough, but after that most of them simply become dull and repetitive. There’s not much to keep you coming back in regards to many track and field events such as the 100m sprint or long jump, which are basically the same events over and over again, especially on easier difficulties.
London 2012 doesn’t try to be anything it’s not – the effort Sega Studios Australia have gone to to refresh a generic system should be applauded – however there’s just not enough depth to give the game the selling point it needs to keep players coming back for more.
By Jake Galouzis - Bio