Beijing 2008 - PS3 Review
With only a week to go, excitement surrounding the Beijing Olympics is reaching fever pitch. At least it would be were it not for the pollution levels, terrorism fears, and and banning of signs, cheering and supporting your own team. Despite all that I think we are in for one of the most stunning sporting and cultural events of all time. As with every Olympic games in recent times there is a video game so you can relive, or create, your own historic sporting moments. Sega's Beijing 2008 is available now, so let's take a look.
|Swimming over 100 meters.|
So, a game based on this years’ Olympics. Sega have included an impressive roster of 38 events over 10 different sports for the game and as you would expect this includes plenty of track and field events (100m, long jump, 1500m, high jump, hammer throw, decathlon etc) and plenty of events in the pool (diving, 50m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, Butterfly and Breaststroke), as well as other common events such as shooting, Gymnastics and Archery. What does surprise are some of the more 'fringe' sports which you wouldn't expect to see in a game like this. Table Tennis is included, as is Judo, Kayaking and also the Team Pursuit in the cycling. Without doubt Beijing 2008 offers the widest range of sports ever seen in an Olympic video game.
|Performing some gymnastics...|
Beijing 2008 includes many official venues ranging from the famous Beijing National Stadium (the "Bird Nest") to the National Aquatics Center (the "Water Cube"). Each of the locations looks wonderful, and from the limited time we have seen each location on TV they look wonderfully represented in this game. Indeed the presentation throughout the entire game is pretty slick with great on-screen displays during events, and easy to navigate menus.
Playing Beijing 2008 offline is a solid experience as you can single events, or play through the entire Olympics after selecting from the 32 countries on off. But, hang on, aren't there more the 32 countries in the world? Well damn, yes they are, but at least Sega put Australia in the top 32 I guess! Most of the events on offer really are button mashing affairs where you can either, in the traditional way, alternate button presses or in the new way wiggle an analogue stick as fast as possible. Speed and timing is the key in most events. One of the neat aspects of this game is to watch a brief video tutorial prior to each event to remind yourself how to actually play it. Unfortunately you can't bring it up, even via the pause menu, when you've started so you better not skip it by mistake.
|Shooting makes it into the game.|
When you get bored of the offline game, head online. Eurocom have included support for up to 8-players online, and we must say that the experience is pretty good with little to no lag (again, this is probably dependent on everyone's connection speed), and a pretty easy system with a few options to configure along the way.
Sadly there are some issues with this game. The biggest complaint is the inclusion of a leveling-up system. When you complete events you earn points which can then got towards honing your athletes skills. Now forgive me if I'm an idiot, but if you're in the Olympics shouldn't you be at the top of your game anyway? Another issue is that this game really does degenerate into a button mashing affair for the most part, although Eurocom have put in some variety.
|Looks like we have a winner!|
Youngsters and newcomers to games, and perhaps even some hardcore gamers, may also find that the game can be pretty damn difficult in parts too with your timing needing to be ultra-precise to score big. It really does come down to luck more then skill on most occasions. Surely some variable difficulty levels could have sorted this out. The lack of real athletes is also disappointing in this day and age, although it's hard to tell who will qualify with athletes likely to pull out of the games right up to the last minute. Finally it was disappointing to see that there really isn't anything linking to the real games online - no interface to see actual results or starting lineups.
While it would have been easy for Sega, and developers Eurocom, to pump out a sub-par game graphically that isn't the case here. In fact one of the biggest surprises with this game is the quality of the visuals. Character models are solid enough, however it's the smooth animation that really impresses. There were only a couple of events (Table Tennis being one) where the characters moved a little awkwardly. As we have previously mentioned the stadiums look wonderful, and water in particular looks quite nice indeed.
|Archery is quite entertaining.|
If there is one slight disappointment it's the menus which actually look quite jaggy. Surely Eurocom could have made this interface look a little better - but you won't be looking at it for too long.
Audio in Beijing 2008 - as with other major points - is solid, but nothing groundbreaking. The events, and crowds sound lively enough, as do the announcers used throughout the games. Music selection is rather limited though although there's nothing there that will have you rushing to turn down the volume. It would have been nice to see some more variety in comments and announcements. As with most PS3 games audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, but it isn't really a showcase for the format.
|Water actually looks very good.|
So Beijing 2008 really does come down to a button mashing affair for the most part, but there's no surprise there really and the good news is that for many events Eurocom have added in alternate controls (usually wiggling the analogue stick). Graphics and audio are also very impressive, certainly better then we expected, and the online gameplay is also very solid. If you like your Olympic based games then you'll want to check out Beijing 2008, just don't expect anything revolutionary.
|Preparing to start the 100m sprint.|
Review By: Dave WarnerOrder your copy now from Gameswarehouse.
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|GRAPHICS||Menus are average, but in-game graphics actually manage to impress.||80%|
|SOUND||Not really too much to get excited about with the audio. Functional.||73%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's button mashing, and some events are overly tough, but the game is fun in multi-player.||75%|
|VALUE||I'm not sure how long you'll play after the Olympics, but online gameplay is solid.||80%|
|OVERALL||With some fun events, plenty of variety, and solid online gameplay Beijing 2008 is a game worth checking out. Solid.||75%|