There isn't a storyline as such in this game, and it doesn't really need it either as this is all about the greatest sporting event in the world - the Olympic Games. As a result we can skip right into the meat of this game and look at the various modes on offer.
The Olympic Campaign takes place over 10 days with 2 events per day selectable and a heat and final held on the same day. Sure, it's not very accurate to real life, but it gets the job done. Unfortunately for some reason the range of sports being included in this mode seems limited with many of the "lesser" sports not making an appearance in the campaign as selectable events - or at least not in the three run-throughs we had. We never saw the Kieran, single skulls Rowing and Beach Volleyball among others. As we said though, perhaps we were just unlucky. At the end of the Olympic Campaign you will be ranked on a medal tally with three points for gold, two for silver and one for bronze.
Finally no game in 2012 is complete without a multiplayer mode and London 2012 is pretty well catered for with support for 2-8 players online. After selecting your nation you can then enter a Quick Match where events are randomly selected, Custom Match where you can select the modes and Online Tournament. In order to speed up the process events where competitors usually take turns (such as the javelin) are run simultaneously with results showing after each round while events where everyone competes together (such as 100m sprint) sees everyone competing at the same time on-screen.
So let's look at the sports included in London 2012. Breaking them down into groups the game has the following:
Diving - 3m springboard, 3m springboard synchronised, 10m platform, 10m platform synchronised.
Field - Discus (men), High Jump, Javelin (men), Long Jump (men), Shot Put (men), Triple Jump (men).
Gymnastics - Trampoline (men), Vault.
Shooting - 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (men), Skeet Shooting.
Swimming - 50m Freestyle, 100m Backstroke, 100m Breaststroke, 100m Butterfly, 100m Freestyle.
Track - 100m (men), 100m hurdles (men), 200m (men), 400m.
Other Events - Beach Volleyball (women), K1 Kayak (men), Cycling Keirin (men), Rowing Single Sculls (men), Table Tennis (men), Weightlifting 105kg+ (men).
As with any compilation sports game a lot of the enjoyment will come down to the controls and we have to say whether you're using the Dual Shock 3 or PlayStation Move you are pretty well catered for here with a range of controls depending on the sport. Swimming relies mostly on movement of the analogue sticks, track and field more so with button mashing to build up speed (but go too hard an you'll burn out), shooting requires quick aiming and firing, and diving and trampoline require precise button timings. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea but we enjoyed what Sega Studios Australia did in this Olympic game.
As an Olympics title this game offers more than we expected, but that's not to say there aren't disappointments. Some may complain of the "button mashing" nature of the gameplay, but if you can come up with a better control scheme for several of these game modes (such as 100m sprint) I'm sure developers the world over would love to know. There were a couple of sports that could have been a little better - 25m Pistol is a little twitchy and inaccurate, Beach Volleyball doesn't quite seem as fluid as I would have expected and all the swimming events are a little too similar.
Something I wasn't expecting was the visual quality from London 2012 which certainly exceeds what we've come to expect from an Olympic title. Most impressive are the detailed recreations of the stadiums from the various Olympics events. They look great and adding to the atmosphere are some of the best crowds we've ever seen in a sports game. Spectators not only look different, but have different flags, and don't look they are all moving in unison. Effects such as the puff of a clay target in skeet shooting, the movement of water in water sports - especially the kayaking - are superb with the game retaining a fairly solid frame rate.
Sonically London 2012 also manages to impress, or at least as much as one would expect from an Olympic title. Music is largely forgettable, but it sets the epic sports tone well enough. Crowds are pretty decent with the noise levels rising and falling according to the events being undertaken, but it's the commentary which impresses the most. While at times a little inaccurate, for the most part this commentary is accurate to the on-screen action, and focuses on the team you have selected.
London 2012 is indeed a button mashing affair for the most part, but Sega have delivered a product that has a wide range of sports, impressive visuals, decent commentary and an entertaining experience.
Review By: Dave Warner