Game Over Online ~ Vancouver 2010

GameOver Game Reviews - Vancouver 2010 (c) Sega, Reviewed by - Stephen Riach

Game & Publisher Vancouver 2010 (c) Sega
System Requirements Xbox 360
Overall Rating 55%
Date Published Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 03:16 PM


Divider Left By: Stephen Riach Divider Right

When I was young, I used to go over to my friend’s house and we’d play Epyx Winter Games on his Apple II. I suppose it’s for that nostalgic reason I’ve always held a soft spot in my heart for Olympics-based video games, even though they’ve been woefully inadequate in recent years. Salt Lake 2002, Athens 2004, Torino 2006, Beijing 2008; not a bronze medallist in the bunch, let alone gold. Now it’s Vancouver 2010’s turn on the world stage. Do we finally have a winner on our hands?

Not quite.

Vancouver 2010 features fourteen Olympic Winter Games events, divided into eight sports as follows:

  • Alpine Skiing
    • Men’s Giant Slalom
    • Men’s Super-G
    • Ladies’ Giant Slalom
    • Ladies’ Slalom
  • Ski Jumping
    • Men’s Individual Large Hill
  • Freestyle Skiing
    • Ladies’ Ski Cross
    • Ladies’ Aerials
  • Snowboarding
    • Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
    • Men’s Snowboard Cross
  • Short Track Speed Skating
    • Ladies’ 500 meters
    • Ladies’ 1,500 meters
  • Bobsleigh
    • Two-Man Bobsleigh
    • Men’s Skeleton
    • Luge
  • Skeleton
    • Men’s Skeleton
  • Luge
    • Men’s Singles

A diverse group of events on paper, but allow me to re-arrange them in a more telling way:

  • Racing
    • Men’s Giant Slalom
    • Men’s Super-G
    • Ladies’ Giant Slalom
    • Ladies’ Slalom
    • Ladies’ Ski Cross
    • Men’s Parallel Giant Slalom
    • Men’s Snowboard Cross
    • Ladies’ 500 meters
    • Ladies’ 1,500 meters
    • Two-Man Bobsleigh
    • Men’s Skeleton
    • Luge
  • Other
    • Men’s Individual Large Hill
    • Ladies’ Aerials

That’s a lot of racing. There are subtle differences between each of the events, but whether it’s on skis, skates or a sled, racing is racing. It’s not long before these events start to resemble one another. Where is the variety? Now, I don’t expect the developers to create an entire hockey game just for Vancouver 2010, that’s an undertaking in itself, but how about events like curling, figure skating or the biathlon? Anything to change up the pace a little.

To make matters worse, the experience isn’t representative of the Olympics. There’s no structure to single player, no sense of spectacle and no medal standings. Players simply choose an event, participate in said event, finish anywhere from first to fourth (apparently only four nations take part in any one event), and then it’s back to the event selection menu. There needs to be more to it than that; a career mode, something.

Well, there is one thing: Challenges. Players can take on challenges based on the various events, progressively unlocking new and tougher challenges as they go. Some challenges are relevant to the Olympics: High Speed Bobsleigh, where you’re tasked with exceeding a target speed at any point on the course; or Time To Try Bobsleigh, where the goal is to reach the finish line inside the target time. Other challenges are more appropriate for the Winter X Games than the Olympic Winter Games. Challenges where the course is littered with snowmen or where you have to complete a timed run while using reverse controls (up is down, right is left, etc.). The Challenges is where most players will likely spend the bulk of their time playing Vancouver 2010 because once you’ve competed and medalled in each of the events in the Olympic Games mode, there’s very little reason to return other than for those players interested in improving their ranking on the online leaderboards.

Giving credit where credit is due, the controls for most of the events are incredibly simple. No one event takes more than the analog stick(s) and a few buttons to play, and perhaps more importantly button mashing is left to the short track speed skaters. That doesn’t mean you won’t pull your hair out trying to align rotating rings in the Ladies Freestyle Aerials, but for the most part the game is very accessible.

Another positive, Vancouver 2010 looks great. The palette is bright and colorful, blurring is used to great effect during the high-speed events, and a new first-person ‘Athlete View’ allows players to get closer to the action than ever before. Audio, on the other hand, is a mixed bag. The sound effects are befitting and each of the participating nation’s national anthems is accounted for, but I don’t agree with the choice of music for the game. When I think of the Olympics, I think of the classic themes that have been created over the years. That’s what I expect to hear, not pop punk. I don’t need Sum 41 blaring in the background as I participate in the Giant Slalom. Again, this isn’t the Winter X Games, it’s the Winter Olympic Games. It doesn’t feel appropriate to me.

I can’t help but wonder if Vancouver 2010 wouldn’t have been better served as a Wii title. With the Balance Board, it seems like an ideal platform for sports like Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Ski Jumping and even the different Sled-related sports. Skating, maybe not so much. Then again, Sega knows all too well how poorly third-party software generally sells on the Wii. MadWorld anybody? I also can’t help but wonder whether the Olympic Games are suited for video games, considering recent entries have come up well short. I believe they are, but more effort must be put into to creating an engaging experience worthy of the spectacle. Here, the lack of variety and depth quickly leads to repetitive gameplay. In the end, like Salt Lake, Athens, Torino and Beijing before it, Vancouver 2010 fails to reach the podium.

 

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Rating
55%
 

 

 
 

 

 

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