From the wilds of Borneo to the vineyards of Bordeaux, the unrest over the 2008 Olympics being held in Beijing rings out all over the world. In London, angry protesters attempt to wrench the Flame from Konnie Huq's hands while on the other side of world, campaigners for a Free Tibet mobilise themselves. But despite all the hubbub, not a single country has decided to actually boycott The Games.
However, if the protectors were to down their placards and turn their focus onto the mountain of broken joypads, weeping thumbs and enormo-callouses that will be left in Beijing 2008 The Game's wake, then perhaps something might get done. The amount of button-bashing involved must surely count as a human right violation.
And what a joy button-bashing is, on the console with face buttons as hard as stale Weetabix. To make matters worse, Beijing 2008 seems to have been developed in some kind of parallel dimension where the Xbox is controlled with a Rubik's Cube. The dexterity required in many of the events borders on the insane.
Take the 100m sprint: you begin by rapidly tapping l and r to fill up a meter that rewards you with a false start if you fill it up too quickly; then, you need to flip the controller 90 degrees to hammer the a and b buttons (or waggle the analogue stick, if you prefer your controls on the unresponsive side). If there are hurdles ahead, you'll need to stretch a tortured finger across to l to jump. It's impossibly badly conceived.
In For The High Jump
And hammer those damn buttons is often all you can do. While winning a 1500m race, we spent an incredible 3:58 spamming a control pad, which is proof that we reviewers suffer for our art. It gave us plenty of time to admire the animation, which if we were polite we would describe as an 'interesting' take on the way athletes run. The tedium lets up slightly when you leave the track for the pool; here, you have to rotate the sticks in opposite directions to swim, which is easier than it sounds.
Diving events ask you to rotate the stick in tune with the diver's head to earn points from the judges. The field events are a mishmash of badly conceived rhythmic mini-games, cobbled together without any thought as to whether they'd be, you know, actually fun or engaging to play. But then, that makes this the perfect update to Track & Field, a game fondly remembered only because it rotted the part of some gamers' brains that differentiates right from wrong. This dour slog hits all the wrong buttons. Start the protest... NOW!
Dry, charmless rundown of the Olympic events with a direction-less single-player.
- Basic, unappealing presentation
- Comprehensive but samey