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Game Over Online ~ Sydney 2000

GameOver Game Reviews - Sydney 2000 (c) Eidos Interactive, Reviewed by - Jimmy Clydesdale

Game & Publisher Sydney 2000 (c) Eidos Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium II-233, 64MB Ram, 50MB HDD, 3D Accelerator, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 58%
Date Published Sunday, August 27th, 2000 at 09:27 PM

Divider Left By: Jimmy Clydesdale Divider Right

Citius, altius, fortius. In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams. With that said and a copy of Eidos Interactive's Sydney 2000 in my CD-ROM, let the button-mashing begin!

Olympic-style video games have been popular since the days of the Atari 2600 and Commodore 64. What makes Eidos Interactive's Sydney 2000 so unique is the incredible variation of events covered. There are 12 Olympic-based events in total including the 100M Sprint, 110M Hurdles, Hammer, Javelin, Triple Jump, High Jump, 100M Freestyle Swimming, 10M Platform Diving, Kayak K1 Slalom, Super Heavyweight Weight Lifting, Olympic Spring Cycling and Skeet Shooting. It covers track & field, aquatics and everything in between, but there's a catch. Just for the sake of an analogy, and probably not a good one at that, pretend that I've just given you a variety of fruits (apricots, peaches, bananas, etc.), but as you bite into these delicious fruits, you realize that they all taste the same. They all taste like chicken. There might be 12 Olympic-based events, but it's unfortunate they all taste like chickenů or something like that.

The problem with all of the events in question is that they all come down to one thing, smashing two or three buttons in order to win. With only the exceptions of Skeet Shooting, Platform Diving and Kayak K1 Slalom, each of the other events is controlled using only a couple of keys. Two keys are assigned as 'power' keys and another is assigned as the 'action' key (or you can use buttons on your gamepad). The objective of each of the events is to smash the power keys as quickly as you can in order to give your various athletes the power they need to perform their event. For example, if you enter the 100M Sprint, you'll have to smash those two power keys as quickly as you can to make your sprinter run faster. The quicker you mash those keys, the faster he moves, so get ready to mash those keys. The same holds true for many of the events. Weight Lifting is done much the same way, by mashing the power keys. Once you've reached a certain zone of power, you than hit the 'action' key, which makes the athlete lift the selected weight. Once you've done that, it's back to mashing the power keys until you hit the next stage. Events such as the Hammer, Javelin and Hurdles all require the same sequence of power key mashing mixed with an action key here and there, but it's all the same.

There are several game modes in Sydney 2000. A Coaching Mode allows you to practice the principals involved in many of the events as well as race or compete against images of your previous trials. The two main game modes are Arcade and Olympics. The arcade game allows you to compete against up to as many as seven computer opponents. You can select your country and difficulty level as well as your opponents' country, in case you have a yearning to defeat a particular country. The Arcade mode allows you to compete in all 12 of the events and awards points based on placement and how well you did in the competitions. It's an excellent mode that you'll probably default too most of the time, if only because the Olympic Mode has one extremely tedious aspect.

The Olympic Mode is much like the Arcade Mode. You begin by selecting your country of origin and then set off to compete in all 12 of the Olympic events. However, once you select your event, you must train your athlete first before competing. That's not to say you can't jump right into the event, but you're athlete will come in dead last without question due to a lack of strength, technique and morale. You must train your athlete to improve their upper and lower body strength as well as both technique and morale. This is done by performing exercises such as squats, bench presses and treadmill work. In order to achieve optimal performance, you'll basically have to perform about a dozen such exercises, all of which require you to mash those buttons again. The Olympic Mode has been poorly designed for one specific reason. You must train each of the athletes in all twelve events and many of the training sessions repeat themselves over and over. There's no way to skip the training schedule without finishing in dead last in the competitions. It's a nice mode if you're really looking to simulate the entire training process, but I'm pretty sure many people will avoid the Olympic Mode and head straight for the Arcade Mode because of such a tedious process.

Sydney 2000 also features a Head To Head Mode, which allows players to load up teams nurtured in the single player Olympic Mode and go head-to-head against other nurtured teams in the Arcade Mode. This mode serves little purpose when it comes down to it. In terms of multiplayer, the only mode that supports any is the Arcade Mode, which lets you play with up to 8 human players. The multiplayer mode suffers from the same issues that the single player mode does, it basically comes down to which individual can mash the buttons the quickest. The multiplayer mode can in fact slow down the game's pace when you've got 8 players all doing the Skeet Shooting or the Kayak Slalom.

Visually, Sydney 2000 certainly receives a gold medal. The true-to-life Olympic environments are smack on and the events are presented as if seen on television. Replays from every conceivable angle ring out when the competition is done and the athletes look incredible. Unique athlete models help create a global environment where you never see the same athlete twice. In terms of the audio, the commentary is provided by the team of Steve Ryder, Stuart Storey and Paul Dickenson, the BBC Olympic commentators, They do a commendable job bringing life to some of the events. Grunts, groans and joyful screams can be heard from the athletes throughout and even the crowd gets into it from time to time. The overall presentation of Sydney 2000 is certainly the best we've seen in an Olympic-style game.

The lack of innovation in terms of the controls gives Sydney 200 a console feel to it, an impression that is re-iterated when it comes time to enter your name in the Arcade mode. You have to enter a three-letter name for your Olympic squad, one that is selected by scrolling through the alphabet like you would in a console title. This is the PC version, can't you just let us type our name in? I had difficulties in a couple of events as well. The Skeet Shooting was especially difficult because of aiming issues. It seemed there was a slight delay when targeting the discs. I also had some difficulty in the Cycling event, where I was able to control the power of the first cyclist, but unable to control the second or the third cyclist. Of course it resulted in a last place finish each time because of the lack of speed. I'm not sure if I just didn't understand what I needed to do, or whether there's a bug there that needs to be fixed.

Sydney 2000 certainly looks good out of the blocks, but as it sprints down the lane, it's flaws take over and it struggles to cross the finish line. The impressive variety of events is seemingly erased due to the ancient control system that relegates all the events to simple button mashing experiences. The Olympic Mode is plagued by repetitive training sessions that will no doubt have athletes taking the Arcade route looking to compete right away. In terms of replayability, there are really only a few solid hours here before you realize you've mastered most of the events. It's a noble effort, but Sydney 2000 can't be recommended unless you crave the days of Epic Games' Olympic endeavours.


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