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Game Over Online ~ Salt Lake 2002

GameOver Game Reviews - Salt Lake 2002 (c) Ubi Soft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Salt Lake 2002 (c) Ubi Soft
System Requirements Game Boy Advance
Overall Rating 45%
Date Published Monday, May 6th, 2002 at 04:38 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

It is now customary to expect that each set of Olympic games will inspire a plethora of gaming titles on a variety of platforms. Salt Lake 2002 is an officially licensed Olympic game that brings half a dozen Olympic style events to the GBA. Up until now, I've found most Olympic-themed titles, on any platform, to be fairly transient and temporal. Like Olympic paraphernalia, once the rush of Olympic fever is over, I'm not quite sure what to do with Sydney 2000 hats or Salt Lake 2002 jerseys. The same feeling goes for games and unfortunately, Salt Lake 2002 is not memorable either.

Part of the reason is because of the number of events involved. Naturally, the Winter Olympics is smaller than the summer games. Sports like snowboarding or luge have added a multitude of events, but the choice between events is small. Variety in Salt Lake 2002 is frightfully in short supply. Slalom and downhill ski events share the exact same setup. In fact, even snowboarding turns into a pseudo-downhill affair, with a few jumps sprinkled here and there. Whether these are faithful to the sport or not is not really the question. My question is why all three revolve around starting off at the same gate and proceeds down similar slopes in the same fashion.

Despite the fact that Salt Lake 2002 features four gameplay modes on six events, giving a total of twenty-four variants, most of the modes play out the same. You can compete against static pre-established rankings in hopes of winning gold, silver or bronze. If you link up with another GBA or play the game hotseat, you'll actually get some competition. However, if you choose to play alone, you'll merely compete against a set of static statistics. The actual gameplay is rather bland. For example, in ski jump, you spend more time looking at the screen than really interacting with your persona. Bobsled features some realistic snow textures but the controls make it feel like a racing event on rails; at least more than it should really feel.

There are no judging controversies in this game. Its events are all based around time or measurements. There is, however, something controversial about the view you have in the game. During the downhill events, whether you ride down slalom, skiing or boarding, the top down view is too restrictive, so much that you can often run outside of the two flags and get disqualified without even knowing it. A behind the back third-person mode would have worked much better. As it stands now, you rarely are able to see the left and right boundary flags while skiing/boarding down the center of the course, so the restricted view is particularly hampering on performance. Perhaps a view with less zooming is in order.

Each successive Olympic Games brings a hitherto little-watched sport to the foreground. At Salt Lake, this goes to the game of curling. Before, I noticed the media and fans paid very little attention to it. Coincidentally, the best game out of the half dozen you get in Salt Lake 2002 is curling. The only unfortunate thing about it is its lengthy playing time and the inability to save your game while in progress. You can save your statistics after you complete the game but if you've ever watched curling, you know a full tournament can take quite some time to unwind.

My experience with athletic games is that they usually revolve around one or two well-defined control tricks to fully convey the feeling of athleticism on the controller pad. In Salt Lake 2002, this athleticism is completely absent. Along with the anemic overhead view, Salt Lake 2002 became a vapid title for me, ultimately devoid of any fun. On paper, it appears to be a decent handheld game. The execution, unfortunately, was not as flawless as how the actual Salt Lake games played out.


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