This is a Guest review by Mad Mcgobbo
Over the past few years there has been a slew of Winter Games, I won't go into the names but let's just say they haven't been great. So when Sega's Vancouver 2010 was put in front of me, I was hoping for something that would buck the trend. In a way; it does!
The first thing that grabbed me about the game was that it was incredibly straight-forward in its presentation. After you press the Start button and select Olympic Games you're given your events (training or challenges). There's no faffing around with unlocking each event, there are just 14 events that you can pick up and play straight away. That being said even though there are 14 events there are events missing that appear at the Winter Games; most notably Ice Hockey, some would argue that we have the NHL games for that and I would be inclined to agree.
As with most sports games you get a choice of which country you want to represent for each event and there are quite a few to choose from. You play as a nameless character and for your CPU opponents (and as far as I am aware) there aren't any real life athletes to go up against, which for purists is a negative (for me I don't know any of them anyway so it is a minor flaw!)
Each event has its own tutorial mode and after a few goes on each of the events you should be working your way through them nicely. As with previous Winter Sports type games each event uses a different gaming mechanic to control the action, difference is, with Vancouver 2010 is that there is no real button bashing which marred other games. The events that you do have to use button bashing on only use it to start them for example; Tobogganing uses bashing of the A button to build up launch speed, after that controls are down to the left and right stick for leaning and steering. With the different control methods for each game you would think some of them would be clunky and unresponsive, not the case with Vancouver 2010 as they are handled quite well and offer a good playing experience rather than frustration.
Graphically the game is smooth and looks good and there are some nice touches that are added to the different events, character avatars are nicely detailed and most importantly look human. In events like Down-hill skiing you have a good 3rd person viewpoint which gives you the opportunity to keep in between the flags/gates as you careen downhill, there is also the added motion blur which really gives you the sense of speed when you start to hit higher and higher speeds. You have a 1st person view for Ski Jumping and that adds to the atmosphere that you are "doing it" yourself, you can even hear your character breathing which really adds to the immersion.
For multi-player enthusiasts there are numerous online challenge modes which vary in difficulty (three different difficulties to be exact) and offer better goals than the "beat the clock" ones that other games have tried. For those who value their gamer score it's through these challenges that achievements are earned and it's because of this I'm left feeling that a bit more could have been put into the offline game in the way of achievements especially for those who haven't got their x-box linked up to the net and still want that important gamer score.
All in all Vancouver 2010 is a decent game as it plays well and looks good, I just can't help but feel that there could be a little more in the way of a career mode which would have filled the game out nicely and added more of a lasting appeal to what could have been a great game. Disappointingly what Sega have given us is the video game equivalent to a dinner at a 5 star restaurant; it looks great and what you get is good but it's just not filling enough. If you want a good Winter Olympics game you can get far far worse than Vancouver 2010, in fact I don't think in my opinion that there are any better. Hopefully it's a starting point that Sega will build on if they keep the Winter Olympic franchise.