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8/07/2008 01:21:00 PM
Review: Beijing 2008 (XBOX 360, PS3)
Reviewed By Paul Ulane
Image Credit: Sega
Things We Like
Going Deep: There are enough events in Beijing 2008 to hold you over until the next summer games in London. The 40-plus events on the disc range from the traditional (swimming and running) to the less glamorous (archery and the 10m Air Pistol).
Any Way You Want It: For a game with such a singular focus, the gameplay options help diversify the action. To start with, you're not just going for the gold in Olympic Mode. While you are shooting for medals each day, you can also complete specific challenges within each event to boost your country's stats, from stamina to speed. Competition Mode lets you challenge three people in your living room and up to seven online, although there's very little fanfare for winners -- you just compete and then check the results to see who came out on top. If you want medal stand glory, you'll have to stick to solo gameplay.
Take It Slow: A cool slow-motion feature gives you better control during the precision events. Basically, your success in these events depends on your ability to keep extremely sensitive markers within certain areas on the screen. One tap of the toggle sends these markers flying way off. Enter the Slow Motion feature, which you can gain by completing enough mini-challenges. With your markers moving slower, you can be more precise, which helps you stick landings in gymnastics and minimize splashes in diving.
The women's 100-meter dash final:
Things We'd Change
Out of Controls: It's hard to say what suffers more from all of the toggling and button mashing: your controller or your potential to avoid carpel tunnel syndrome. Either way, the controls are erratic and unresponsive and there's very little skill involved. You'll feel like you're playing a simple online game ... that happens to cost 50 bucks.
Out of Controls, II: For non-mashing events, you'll be required to finesse various meters (see above). Yes, this is very challenging and requires a certain amount of coordination, but so does rubbing your belly and tapping your head at the same time. Neither, however, is very fun.
Heavy Load: Hope you like hitting "Next," because you'll spend more than half your time in Beijing 08 skipping filler scenes. Way too many interludes, most of which don't add anything to the experience, slow down the action considerably. Not to mention, you could organize an Olympic protest in the time it takes to load up a new event from the menu page.
Looks That Kill: The graphics just aren't up to par for a next generation title. It seems like each character moves in the same manner, while at the same time, none of the competitors have the fluid movements of a highly skilled athlete. Each celebration or disappointing reaction between events is the same. After a couple hours of gameplay, you'll feel like you are watching a looped video clip.
Dynamic Olympic video games are hard to produce, and Beijing 08 comes up short just like the rest. There are some interesting gameplay options and a wealth of events to choose from, but very few of them are exciting. The clunky control system makes for a very simple, but still frustrating, game that grows tiring quickly.