Beijing 2008 is the official videogame to this year’s Summer Olympic Games being held in China. Carrying on a tradition that started back in
Beijing 2008 is the official videogame to this year’s Summer Olympic Games being held in China. Carrying on a tradition that started back in the 80s, Eurocom have teamed up with Sega to bring us this sports-heavy title. Unlike the Sonic & Mario spin-off released last year, this title is a serious sports simulation, boasting 32 national teams, along with 35 events across a range of disciplines.
Beijing also carries on the tradition of previous ‘Olympic’ games by including the same old button mashing system for most of the events. It is very reminiscent to the classic Track & Field title by Konami, which went a long way to set the pace for the genre. This is not necessarily a good thing though…
The running events are the button mashers.
Limited customization means that you see a lot of clones walking about.
Most of the games like the 100m sprint or shot put event will simply have you tapping A and B as fast as you can. This doesn’t say much about all the progress that gaming has made over the past couple of years, and it’s a bit disappointing. However, some of the more technically ‘complex’ sports have more innovative control schemes, and it’s in these that the game really stands apart.
For example, the diving event sees you manipulating the analogue sticks to gently guide your competitor through the motions, and on the gymnastic events, you have to time the pressing of various buttons with what’s happening on screen to pull off a ‘perfect’ manoeuvre.
Unfortunately, tutorials that are way too quick often lead to a steep learning curve for some events. Combined with the fiddly control systems that exist for a few of the events, it can be a frustrating experience. Only a game like Beijing can remind you how bad you are at sports in real life, yet also manage to make you look like a muppet at the videogame as well.
The shooting events can be quite fun.
Events like swimming make things more interesting with timed actions.
Still, as a sports simulation, Beijing is one of the better ones. The graphics are certainly on par for a ‘next-gen’ title, and the variety of events available means that there is something for everyone.
There is also multiplayer support, with a fully integrated and up to date leader board. This is a first for this type of game, and whilst Beijing starts out small, it starts out well. Competing with up to 8 friends online, you can take part in all of the events the game has and test your skills against one another. This can prove a welcome break to competing against the computer, and brings a little bit of that ‘party’ feel you get from games like Mario Party.
The game’s biggest weakness is probably the fact that unless you are a particular fan of games like this, it won’t appeal to you that greatly. Apart from online, the game supports only two other modes: training and a campaign.
Try as hard as you can to beat your friends.
Graphics are not bad, although they don’t really push any envelopes.
The training mode is obviously useful for when you first start out, practising events so that you can get a hang of the controls. In all honesty though, the sheer number of events means that you will most likely get bored before you have tried everything, and will just move straight to the campaign. The campaign, which simulates the real Olympic event, is split up into ‘days’. Each day, you get a selection of events that you need to compete in, and obviously qualify in order to proceed to the next round. You earn points as you go along, which can be invested in attributes such as speed and power, which augment your athletes and makes it easier to perform well.
BEIJING 2008 VERDICT
Those who like sports games will like Beijing 2008. The combination of old school button mashing, and intricate control manipulation means that this title is probably the best Olympic videogame so far. Unfortunately, it’s one for the fans, and those that are not really into the sports genre, or prefer more main-stream titles will probably find themselves getting bored quickly of this game. Still, a good effort, and a worthy companion to this year’s games.