Vancouver 2010 Xbox 360 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

It’s funny how history sometimes repeats itself..

Back in 2006, I reviewed the PS2 version of 2K Games’ enjoyable Torino 2006 Winter Olympics game, although sadly it was let down by a lack of events and those present sometimes felt as if they were too similar to some of the others that were included. Now in 2010, with the next Winter Olympics just around the corner, SEGA have released the Eurocom developed Vancouver 2010. You’ve probably already guessed that it repeats some of the same mistakes as 2K Games 2006 release.

I suppose that the developers of these games feel rather pressurised to get them out on time to coincide with the real life events, although for this release that means the absence of the likes of Ice Hockey and Curling, which is a shame for those who were looking forward to playing virtual recreations of these in the official game of the Winter Olympics. Wouldn’t it be better if the game covered every discipline of the real life event? It would but, for one reason or another, it doesn’t.

What the game does cover is Alpine Skiing, Ski Jumping, Freestyle Skiing, Snowboarding, Short Track, Speed Skating, Bobsleigh, Skeleton, and Luge. Most of the games are executed to a competent degree and none are truly horrible to play, which is always a good thing for such a concoction of sporting events.

Another good thing is the fact that the game is welcoming to the more casual player, meaning there’s not a great deal of depth to be found in any of the included 14 events, though because of this, it may prove to be too shallow for some.

Alpine and Cross Skiing have you pressing a button as soon as the gigantic GO! appears on the screen, and then bashing the same button to build up speed before sailing down the snowy slope, and with Downhill, Super-G, Giant Slalom and Slalom represented, Skiing may very well have you coming back for more. Staying with Skiing, the first person Ski Jumping has you pressing a button to launch and then getting a meter as central as possible just before the jump, then it’s all about getting the balance and the landing correct. Then there’s Aerials, stopping a meter in order to aim and then heading towards the end of a slope, timing your launch and then using the sticks to do your best to stay within the coloured sections, matching the rotations and then hopefully landing on your feet. It looks great and will require a fair bit of skill for some of the tougher aerial moves.

Snowboarding is very similar to the Alpine and Cross Skiing, with Giant Slalom and Snowboard Cross included, whilst Bobsleigh, Skeleton, and Luge are also just variations of the same thing: speeding down a narrow, twisty, claustrophobic track on different forms of sleds. That’s not to say that they aren’t enjoyable, as the sensation of speed is really quite something, particularly when you get close to the bottom.

Short Track and Speed Skating is where button mashing is most prevalent, as the overall game actually does a good job at minimising such button smashing activity. Short Track has you bashing a button frantically to maintain your speed as you skate on an icy track, whilst Speed Skating is a little more complex and demands you to time your button presses with the foot movements of your athlete over the first 1,000 meters, and then in the final 500 meters it’s back to the mindless button bashing. They’re decent enough, but are still perhaps the weakest events in the game.

Speaking of weak points, Vancouver 2010 struggles to capture the feeling of such a big event. True, the graphics are mostly excellent with lifelike athletes, believable animations and snow that looks – if not totally acts – like the real thing, though with the lack of commentary and no proper career mode, the game just gives the feeling that you are going through the motions of single events as opposed to a small part of something bigger. Whether in multiplayer or single player, there’ll only ever be four competing countries, further taking away the feeling of the actual Winter Olympics.

For the single player there is a three tier challenge mode, complete with thirty challenges that increase in difficulty with each new tier. Here, thought has seemingly been put into many of the challenges and the mode does add to the longevity of the game, as certain players will want to complete the lot. But its multiplayer where such games really shine, and with support for four players (online or off) the game truly displays its competitive appeal.

Vancouver 2010 might not be the ultimate Winter Olympics game, though it is a very commendable and highly playable effort. As a package it’s mostly impressive, although the game would have benefitted from a few more options and a better impression of actually being a part of the Winter Olympics.