First of all welcome to my first game review. This of course will be a learning curve for me. But hopefully it will be a shallow gentle curve. Now this leads nicely, why it does I will become apparent, into the game which I’ve been quested to review: Beijing 2008. Now having previously owned a Wii but managed to avoid the sports type, shake your hand in a strangely suggestive manner to move as fast as you can games, and the ones I have played personally never clicked with me. It may have just been that my friend (who I later sold the Wii to); that I inevitably played with was both, more able at these games, and more competitive (Read – Less sporting) than me. Either way, it didn’t last. Now over my years of gaming I have attempted to avoid the sports games genre (Wii sports excluded). Tragically writing them all off as button bashing no skill boring pieces of rubbish; the disks they are printed on not being worth cutting up and using as a mobile to amuse my younger sister. However I have matured since then, and decided that playing the Beijing 2008 game would be both educational and potentially enjoyable. After all, my mother always taught me to give everyone/thing a choice.
Now having very little to compare Beijing 2008 to in my past I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. But I fired it up and decided a bit of training was in order. To which I was told I needed to pick one of my “friends”. So I decided I would avoid playing online, especially as none of my “friends” currently have Beijing 2008. So selecting the next option competition and picking of course the brave and valiant British as my country of choice I jumped straight in at the deep end. You are given the choice of (as far as I know) all of the Olympic Games, which are nicely split into the categories: Track, Field, Aquatics, Gymnastics, Shooting and Other. Being the first on the list of prospective events I chose the 100 metre sprint. You are then taken to the Olympic Stadium where you can watch all the Athletes stretch and warm up for their big race. You are at this point offered two options, skip and tutorial. Now I figured that I should probably check the tutorial out, just in case Beijing 2008 was not just about tapping A + B repeatedly to pick up momentum over a 10-20 second stretch. Tragically that is almost exactly what it was. I had to time my launch so as to not get a false start, then either tap A + B or “wiggle” the left or right stick around to build up speed. Feeling confident I could handle these relatively simple instructions I returned to watching the athletes warming up. Now to me the word skip, implies that it would end of its own accord. This however was not the case, as I discovered after watching the athletes repeat their various stretches (Why did I have to pick the men’s 100m) for a scarily hypnotic 2 minutes. Anyway, after dragging myself away from the stretches I got on with the race. I opted for the A + B option and soon discovered that A – Its impossibly hard and B – It gets painful very quickly. This could however be realism. The Athlete would feel pain, therefore I do as well. I tried other events and was equally unsuccessful; ironically I can run 100 metres faster than I can in Beijing 2008.
Perhaps some training therefore was in order. I clearly had jumped right into the deep end of this Olympic size swimming pool. The steep learning curve had crushed my spirit and my right arm. So on I hopped, hoping for some Wii sports-esq. training where I get to beat up punch bags to improve my technique. Tragically no, instead I am faced with exactly the same 100m sprint, on repeat. “Aha!” I said “Repetition being the key to improving this surely must be how I crack those 10 second times!” So I jumped back in, this time wiggling my stick as hard as I could, only to be met with disappointment as everyone else shot off into the distance, and I lost. Then I tried it again, and again, and again. And being perfectly honest, I got worse and worse and worse.
Sprinting clearly wasn’t for me, perhaps freestyle swimming; I used to be pretty good at swimming as a child and early teen. Tragically this followed the EXACT same formula as the sprint, as did any event that involved moving forward. So I decided to attempt the shooting. Being a veteran of more FPS’ than I can remember this should be a walk in the park. “Pull!” The character shouted, and “Miss” the Screen displayed. Rinse and Repeat. As this is done 2/3 times per location, on more locations than I care to remember. All in all I hit one. Next up Judo, surely my endless time playing street fighter, virtual fighter, and assorted other platform fighters would make me the Judo gold medallist in less time than an E-mail. Once again, I watched the tutorial, which made very little sense. But I tried my best, following the instructions which were strangely similar to a dance mat game, left, right, press button to perform flip. Rinse and Repeat. Even this simple task seemed to elude me and I went out in the first round. Gymnastics I feel deserve a mention as the only set of events even remotely interesting. Anyone who played Fahrenheit will feel at home pressing sequences and balancing using your sticks. Come to mention it Fahrenheit also had a lot of button bashing, and some repetitive moments. But I loved that game. It soon dawned on me what the problem was. On Fahrenheit I was able to progress through a story that was interesting and enthralling, but in Beijing 2008 I am unable to progress through even the simplest event. This therefore is the biggest downfall of Beijing 2008, not the repetition, or the lack of sense to some of the controls. But the sheer impossibility of events.
To finish off I decided to try out the Olympic competition in full. This clearly is the “campaign” or “story mode” of the game; the main bit. This section boasts the ability to train up your Olympic team, gaining XP to spend on abilities. Strangely the entire team benefit from these upgrades of accuracy, stamina, power, agility, speed, slow motion, and slo-mo extended. These last two I have no idea about. But the fact that the entire team share the same attributes and even the same fatigue was so amazingly confusing and frustrating that I quickly wrote off this feature as a weak attempt at spicing up a poor game. So why have I waited so long to mention the main part of the game? Because tragically, like the rest of the game, it is EXACTLY THE SAME.
As a sport game it’s probably one of the better ones, but as a game it is more frustrating than a traffic jam and more useless than a pipe organ on a hunting trip. Enter the 2012 Olympics yourself, you stand a better chance of winning an event, and you get fitter.