Review: London 2012: The Official Video Game

With the London 2012 Olympic Games already underway, enthusiasts will be glued to their television screens in order to catch all the action as it happens. It is estimated that the total viewership of the Olympics may reach around the 1-billion mark, ranking it amongst the most viewed sporting events generally. 

A screenshot from London 2012: The Official Video Game (image: Sega)

As with all the past Olympic games, video game developers want to capitalise on the viewership and excitement by launching an official videogame to accompany the action – and this year it is in the form of London 2012: The Official Video Game, developed by Sega.

After a rather touching opening sequence, gamers are asked at the main screen if they would like to compete in single events, or start an Olympic campaign.

Single events are still within the Olympic format, but players will be able to choose how many- and which events they want to part take in. If they only want to compete in one event, they can – and more events can always be added. 

With the Olympic campaign option, players will be asked to select a country for which they will compete in the medals tally and an option is also available for them to change the team’s kit.

Something that is a bit of an oddity, is the fact that players will be able change the team composition (athlete’s names) and insert anything they wish. This was probably added so that gamers would be able to include themselves in a preferred team.

As with the real deal, selecting the official campaign will take players through an opening ceremony of sorts, with fireworks and commentators going through all the political-correct motions. It successfully creates a sense of excitement and fair-play, which embody the spirit of the Games. 

The game features a combined total of 31 sports, but players will not be able (or allowed) to compete in every discipline. Gamers will be asked to select (usually two or three) sports from a pre-determined list of about five items, with the unselected sports being unavailable for the rest of the tournament.

Once players have gone through all the sports selected, the Games will conclude and a tally of medals will be done. Naturally the country with the most medals will be crowned the winner and the title will enter a short closing ceremony-type presentation.

In terms of gameplay, sports games (and specifically Olympic titles) have a rather notorious history of being button-bashers, where players will have to rapidly press their thumbs to the bone in order to make their character swim, sprint or hurdle faster.

But London 2012 decided to do things a little bit differently, while there is still an element of a little bashing. In most events, the speed will lock in place, and then it just requires the gamers to press a button at the right time.  But most events that include running will have a rapid button-pressing section – which is not all that bad, and understandable to a point.

Take to most basic of events – the 100m dash. Getting down in the blocks, gamers will have to wait for the starter gun, after which they press a button to push off. Running down the stretch, gamers will have to rapidly press the action button, while concentrating at keeping it within level of the strength bar. Go over the level in the bar, and the runner will use more energy and tire more quickly; go under, and the runner will naturally run slower than competitors. To lunge over the finish line, gamers just have to flick the left analogue stick.

But with sports like javelin, discus and shot put, the initial speed or strength is built up by rapid-fire, and then locked in place. The only other thing that gamers then have to do is wait for the correct angle and release the object with a flick of the analogue stick.

The most difficult disciplines to compete in are the Diving and Trampoline events, while Skeet Shooting also ranks high on the difficulty scale. The reason for their difficulty is that gamers will need to have a sharp eye and hair-fine reaction times.

In terms of graphics, the action is presented in a neat little package with detail that matters at the correct angles. While it’s not on par with titles such as FIFA or Tiger Woods PGA Tour, it’s a refreshing look at the Olympics games.

While the game is fun to play, it shouldn’t keep gamers busy for too long, as the Olympic campaign can be completed in a matter of hours. It also has multiplayer, which will extend the playability. Overall, it’s fun and engaging and will provide for an authentic experience at the London 2012 Olympics.

Our score: 8.1/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor