Review: London 2012
If you live in London you’ll be aware that we are only a couple of weeks away from a complete meltdown of our Transport network and overcrowding in Central London, and now the Mayor of London has his own set of Tube announcements reminding us not to get caught out. I was in Trafalgar Square when we won the chance to host the Olympics, I was really excited about London winning but over time that has my enthusiasm has waned, the good news is the official game is quite good fun, if it a bit rough round the edges.
London 2012 gives us less athletic types to experience Olympic glory by taking part in over 40 different events. All the events you would expect to see are there, the 100 metres, the javelin, even kayaking makes an appearance but there are plenty that have been missed, for example there are no equestrian events, Boxing is missing and there are no martial arts events either but most of the mainstream events are there for you to enjoy.
London 2012 is made up of 4 modes, The Olympics, Events Mode, Party Play and Xbox Live mode. Olympics mode give you the chance to play through the whole event, there are three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard) but to unlock hard you will need to finish this mode once. Depending on your choice of difficulty the number of days the events take place changes, 10 for Easy and Medium, 14 for Hard. Each day you are presented with a list of events to choose two from, you then go off and try to qualify and hopefully get to the final to make an attempt at Olympic glory. Winning gold medals will unlock alternate uniforms and retry tokens to give you an extra chance to go for gold. If you are good enough to break world records you will also unlock golden equipment though it won’t do anything to affect gameplay. Despite over 40 events being advertised in the game, during Olympic mode there was little variation in the events, which left me not having played quite a few. That was where Events mode stepped in, allowing you to create playlist of all the events of your choosing.
Gone are the days of bashing your buttons to a pulp in the events as London 2012 requires you to have some rhythm. In swimming you need to make sure you build up a good rhythm whilst using the sticks, and in events such as the m platform and the trampoline you’ll need to master the ability to match combination of buttons and time your landings.. In the javelin you repeatedly press A to build up your speed then when it has been ‘locked’ you can line up your angle before unleashing the javelin. In the running events you have to be careful not to overfill your power bar otherwise your athlete will tire out and you’lll be looking at 8th place. It didn’t take long to get good at any of the events, although some were slightly harder, like the 3m platform and the trampoline, where timing and precision come into play to keep you on your toes.
London 2012 comes with the purple ‘Better with Kinect’ strip and you won’t be surprised to learn that the game isn’t any better with Kinect. You can only play using the sensor in certain events such as the 100m, Javelin and Beach Volleyball but they aren’t very well implemented. In Beach Volleyball you have no control over the players movement and in the 100m you just have to frantically pretend you are running with your arms, pretty uninspiring stuff.
The game is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to presentation, as you would expect all the official branding is there as well as each of the official venues which look really good. It’s a shame that the athletes look like they have just stepped out of the original Xbox, I also noticed when competing in events that require more than one movement such as the platform diving there is no fluency between moves, instead they snap to the next part of a trick. I also had the track disappearing quite often in the 400m events. If you have one of those new fangled 3D TV’s then the option to use this is available, I wasn’t able to test this as I don’t.
Thankfully the commentary team made up of Seth Bennett and ex-athlete Allison Curbishley at least provide some personality to the game, even if their criticisms occasionally come out at completely the wrong time. Weirdly when you enter Party Play mode they are replaced by a particularly bland American man.
Talking of Party Play, this mode adds slight twists to a number of games. With 2-4 players you can take part in events such as Javelin Twist which sees players aim for a giant bullseye. You can also take part in challenges with friends to work together. There are three stars per round and three different challenges in a set, unfortunately getting the full amount of stars is pretty difficult as the target scores are a bit too tough, especially if you are just having a quick go with friends.
I had the most fun on Xbox Live where I was able to represent Great Britain (or whichever nation I felt like) against other competitors across the different events. The game handles the online side of things very well although there were a few times when you had to hang around for other players to complete their turns, which put a damper on things. The other problem is the lack of people actually playing this online, hopefully it will pick up once the real event begins.
This is by no means the greatest game in the world but I have genuinely had a lot of fun with it and at times have struggled to put it down. If you are looking for a game like this with Kinect support then you better off looking at title like the Kinect Sports series, otherwise this game will fit on your gaming shelf perfectly.
Review: London 2012 Results
What we liked:
The events are fun to play.
Can get quite addictive, "just one more go!".
Online works well, when there are others to play with.
What we disliked:
Quite a few events missing.
Graphics aren't always up to scratch.
Kinect integration is poorly implemented.