I can’t help but feel bad for the Winter Olympics. Didn’t they used to be more of a big deal? Olympics video games always seem to end life in the bargain bin, so I really had to root for Vancouver 2010 to buck the trend. The developer, Eurocom, has unfortunately not broken the mould with this one.
It’s not all bad news, though. I started with the Training Mode and within minutes was struck by the small things that really made you feel the sense of urgency and speed that I imagine one would feel flying down a mountain on two planks of wood. The animations and character models are amazing. The camera simulation in the cutscenes is fantastic. Unfortunately, by the time you’ve been taken in by these things, you’ve played through the events and you’ve seen about everything this game has to offer – all in the first hour of play. Bit of a shame, that. This genre is in dire need of something different, and sadly Vancouver 2010 doesn’t deliver. There are really only a couple of shining lights in the gameplay. The speed skating, which you would expect would be a button mashing fest, has a more graceful system that relies on well timed button presses coinciding with your skates hitting the ground, and the ladies’ aerial event uses a bit of a brainteaser system to execute your tricks. If you can’t rub your tummy and pat your head, then you’ll probably have trouble. Sadly, this is about all the good this game has to offer. Where’s the figure skating? In the too-hard basket along with character creation and half-pipe snowboarding. They even seem to have forgotten to put medals in the ’medal ceremonies’ – nice one.
It’s a shame that someone seems to have worked so hard on making Vancouver 2010 look and feel like a true Winter Olympics experience, only to be let down by whoever was in charge of the actual game content. I can’t help but feel that Eurocom’s school report would read much like mine: “shows potential but must apply himself more”.