I finally got around to playing this one, even though the Olympics have come and gone this year, this one does quite a decent job of keeping them around. If you haven’t heard anything about this one, here’s the synopsis:

In the world’s greatest sporting event, the true finish line is at the top of the medal stand! Compete to be the best of the best in over 45 events that let you experience what it’s like to compete in the 2012 London Olympics. Single-player focuses on bringing home the drama of the competition. Multiplayer Modes riff on tradition by adding party-style elements to classic events. Choose from a mix of controller-based and motion-control events accompanied by new commentary and beyond-broadcast-quality Olympian visuals. Online play is built to capture the spirit of the Games, with your wins adding to the overall medal count of the country you’re playing for.

Overview

I was somewhat impressed by this one, but as with all games, there are pros and cons to this one as well. Some of the things missing do not make any sense at all, but there is a lot of variety here. Even though it basically is a mini-game compilation, there’s just a ton of mini-games. This one is probably one of the largest reviews I’ve done due to the fact there are so many events, so bear with me.

The Menu

The menu is organized and straight to the point. You can use a controller or Kinect to choose, although the only Kinect option is the party mode which I’ll go into detail later. Your main menu options are Olympic Games, Events Play, Party Play, Xbox Live, Teams & Records and Settings. There is a Kinect Party Play option off to the right of the main menu for the Kinect only events. Kinect uses the typical hover and lock method. As usual, I’ll break everything down.

Olympic Games

This mode is the campaign of it, although there’s not a real story to it. You start off by choosing a difficulty. Hard is initially locked until you complete the games once. The difference between them is the number of events and basically how well the other athletes perform. The games consist of 2 events per day. You first have to qualify and then you can compete in the final. Easy consists of 6 days for a total of 12 events. Medium increases it to 10 days with 20 events and Hard makes you last 14 days with a total of 28 events.

Once you choose your difficulty level, you then choose a nation. There are only 36 countries available, particularly only the major ones, I’m not certain why more couldn’t have been added since it doesn’t use real athletes anyway. What I found humorous is that the nations will state what sports they excel in. Some countries are only good at events that don’t exist in this game, so I’m not sure how that country is really going to help you. During your “campaign” you can unlock a couple of additional things such as alternate outfits and golden equipment. That’s really the only point to the campaign to be honest. One note, you can only play the campaign mode with the controller. Once you complete all 3 difficulty levels and unlock the special items, there’s nothing more to it. It would have been amazing if they put in some experience system and have you start off as a beginner training for the olympics or whatever, there could have been a lot added here, but I’m guessing the events took up most of their time so we’re left with a short campaign mode.

I did happen to record a couple of videos of one day in the campaign mode, it’s not much different from selecting an event as I think the commentary is a little different, but not much. The first video is of the Mens Long Jump. This one is controller only and you have to pace your button mashing into more of a rhythm, then flicking the stick to the correct angle. I’ve tried to include everything as watching it is quite realistic. Check it out below:

The second video is from the Mens Discus Throw. This one is another controller only event, using rhythm, where you have to time holding and changing direction of the right stick just right as well as paying attention to your open area and the angle you throw on. It’s a challenging one if you don’t pay attention, but I did again make sure to include everything. You can view it below:

Events Play

This area allows you to play any events you would like, whereas the campaign mode automatically chooses a list of events and then you get to pick 2 from that list per day. You do have the option to create your own playlists consisting of up to 8 events, or use one of the 3 pre-made playlists for you. Events Play mode can only be played with a controller even though I included some Kinect videos in here. I’ll list each event as its listed in the game.

Track

  • Men’s 100m
  • Men’s 110m Hurdles
  • Men’s 200m
  • Men’s 400m
  • Women’s 400m

This category contains all of your running events. All can be played with the controller or with Kinect except the 400m which is just longer. I did create some videos for a couple of the events, but they are the Party Play mode versions which is listed below. The only significant difference between Events and Party Play for the same events, is that you don’t choose a nation and there’s no announcers.

The controller method for running has you keeping pace by pressing the A button in rhythm. You can tap it faster to get a boost but you have a boost meter that can diminish and slow you down if you are not paying attention. The Kinect method has you raise one arm up and the other one down to get set. To run, you simply move your arms up and down alternating, you do not have to run in place. You can lean forward and put both arms backward to lunge at the end. Since most of these are similar running events, I only made one video of the 200m using Kinect. Check it out below:

The 110m Hurdles is the only different one and I created another video of it using Kinect. The controller method has you pressing A again and pushing the left stick up to jump over the hurdles. The Kinect method has you doing the same for normal running, except you jump in place to jump over the hurdles. I just ended up running in place anyway. You can view the video below, although I was tired by the time I got to this event so I didn’t time my jumps correctly:

Field

  • Men’s Discus Throw
  • Men’s High Jump
  • Women’s High Jump
  • Men’s Long Jump
  • Men’s Triple Jump
  • Men’s Javelin Throw
  • Men’s Shot Put

The discus throw and long jump we covered earlier. The High Jump has you leaping over a pole. You first have to adjust the height of the bar. If you don’t make the jump, it doesn’t count at all and there is no lowering the bar, so make sure you are comfortable with the height. This one is controller only again, using A for speed, the right stick for the angle, and then using A again to time kicking out your legs at the right moment. Here’s a video of it:

The triple jump is another controller based event and is similar to the long jump except you have use the right stick 3 times to match certain angles. Here’s a video of it:

The javelin throw is an interesting one. It can be played both with the controller and Kinect. The controller has you pacing yourself with A again to build up speed and then using the right stick to stop an angle meter to determine your angle. The Kinect method is a little different by having you raise your right arm to your shoulder. You then run in place to gain speed, and then throw it at an angle. Apparently it somehow measures your angle and strength and determines where it will go. The other weird thing is it re-adjusts Kinect and points it up at your ceiling basically. I made a video of the Kinect version below, notice it resets the counter when you lower your arm so detection is pretty good in this one:

The shot put is a controller only one, that is somewhat similar to discus throwing, but a tad different. It’s not very exciting, here’s a quick video of it:

Swimming

  • Men’s 50m Freestyle
  • Women’s 50m Freestyle
  • Men’s 100m Freestyle
  • Women’s 100m Freestyle
  • Men’s 100m Breaststroke
  • Women’s 100m Breaststroke
  • Men’s 100m Butterfly
  • Women’s 100m Butterfly
  • Men’s 100m Backstroke
  • Women’s 100m Backstroke

All the of the swimming events are controller only, and they are all quite similar – it doesn’t seem like there was a lot of thought put into these. You start the event by pressing A to dive into the water. You then button mash A to gain speed from the dive. Once above the water, depending on the stroke, you do different motions with both sticks. Freestyle has you alternate pushing the right stick down, letting go, then the left stick down and letting go, again within a rhythm. It works for what it is, but after playing Michael Phelp’s, it’s just boring. Kinect made it so much more interesting. The only difference between each event is the gender and type of stroke. Here’s a video of the 100m freestyle to give you an idea:

Diving

  • Men’s 3m Springboard
  • Women’s 3m Springboard
  • Men’s 10m Platform
  • Women’s 10m Platform
  • Men’s Synchronised 3m Springboard
  • Women’s Synchronised 3m Springboard
  • Men’s Synchronised 10m Platform
  • Women’s Synchronised 10m Platform

Again, most of the events in this group are very similar. The real differences are the type of diving board/platform or height, the gender, and whether you want to go at it alone or work as a team with another human player. This is another controller only category but after thinking about it, the only thing Kinect could have you do is silly poses to create dives. You start off by choosing a type of dive based on the difficulty and tariff. The way it works is you time button pressing at the correct moment. There is a combo of buttons you have to press and then pressing down on the left stick finishes the dive. Once in dive mode, you have to adjust left or right in order to dive perfectly. It happens really fast and can be quite challenging. Anyhow, I created a video of the Springboard event in Party Play mode so it was quicker. Check it out below:

Shooting

  • Men’s 25m Rapid Fire Pistol
  • Men’s Skeet
  • Women’s Skeet

These events are again, only controller based, but Kinect definitely could have been utilized. With Rapid Fire Pistol, you have 6 shots to shoot at targets within a time limit. Throughout the rounds, the time decreases for certain rounds ending up with 4 seconds left in the last round. There are a total of 6 rounds and the last round also allows you to add to tenths to your points. Your score is cumulative. It’s pretty basic, you just move with the left stick and fire right the right trigger, nothing more, nothing less. Here’s the Party Play video of it:

Men’s Skeet and Women’s Skeet are the same thing, just different genders. There are 8 stations to shoot from. Each station has you pulling either single clays or double clays. With doubles, you have to shoot yellow and then orange. You gain a cumulative score from all stations. Controls are simple again, pressing A to pull, using the left stick to aim and the right trigger to fire. Here’s another Party Play video of it:

Archery

  • Men’s Archery Individual
  • Women’s Archery Individual
  • Men’s Archery Team
  • Women’s Archery Team

The archery is pretty much the same thing for all 4 events. It’s up to you if you want to play as a male or female and whether with other human players or by yourself. You can play the individual events with either the controller or Kinect. The controller method has you pushing down on the right stick to line up your shot. Use the left stick to adjust your aim and then flick the right stick to shoot. You do have to adjust for wind and depth so it is realistic in that aspect. The Kinect version is similar using your left arm to aim and using your right arm to load the arrow and draw back. You flick your right hand away from your face to shoot. I do still prefer the Archery method in Cabela’s Adventure Camp over this one though. It seemed more accurate and more realistic. Anyhow, here’s a video of the Kinect version:

Gymnastics

  • Men’s Trampoline
  • Men’s Vault
  • Women’s Vault

This is another controller only category. The trampoline event is similar to the diving events with pressing certain combos to perform the routines. You just have to nail the entire routine to get a good score. I made a video of the Party Play mode and it’s freestyle so you just press buttons to perform tricks and that’s about it. Check it out below:

The vault events are the same method as diving except you are on land now. The control method is really no different from diving. Here’s a video of it, it’s really fast so yes I’m horrible at it:

Other Sports

  • Men’s Keirin
  • Men’s K1 Kayak Single
  • Men’s Single Sculls
  • Men’s Table Tennis
  • Men’s Weightlifting over 105kg
  • Women’s Beach Volleyball

Men’s Keirin is the technical term for cycling. You race around a track. It can be played both with the controller or Kinect. The controller has you using the left stick to steer and pressing the A button to pedal. You can boost in this one as well. Kinect has you doing a few things. You can boost by running with your arms, so to speak, the same as in the running events. To cruise, you just hold your hands still around your waist. You change lanes by leaning left or right. I’d say the Kinect and Controller are about even on this one. I made a Party Play video of it using the battle mode since its almost the same game you can view below:

Men’s K1 Kayak Single is probably one of the harder events. You have to kayak through some raging rapids and also turn around to go against the current to get through some gates. It can be quite challenging. The controller method has you pushing up on the left stick to go, rowing is done automatically, while pressing A gives you a little boost. To turn sharp by sticking your paddle in the water, you press either the left or right trigger, depending on a left or right turn. Trying not to hit anything can be quite cumbersome, so it is challenging. The Kinect method is a little different because you can only use your oar on one side with both hands, instead of being to alternate like you were really in a kayak. I have no idea why they did this. The Kinect controls are just awful. I prefer the Kinect controls in both Cabela’s Adventure Camp and MotionSports Adrenaline compared to this one. I made a Party Play video of the Slalom version using Kinect that you can view below:

Men’s Single Sculls is the technical term for rowboat. This one is quite challenging as well. It’s controller only, but you have use both triggers in a rhythm pattern to stroke. You can tap and then hold them for a power boost. That’s really all of the controls for it. Here’s a video of it:

Men’s Table Tennis is quite good, although I still prefer the Kinect Sports version. You can play either with the controller or Kinect. The controller method allows you to use the left stick to move your character around and the right stick for your types of returns. The Kinect version tracks your movement so you move around the table and you use one hand to serve, the other for your paddle. For some odd reason, it had me serving with my right hand and using the paddle in my left hand, which was quite uncomfortable being I’m right-handed. Here’s the Kinect video of it:

Men’s Weightlifting is just weightlifting. This is one of the button masher events. It’s controller only and can be a pain. You first choose your amount of weights. Once decided, you then button mash like crazy to make sure you have enough power. You then use both sticks in a downward motion to grab the weights, and then push up on both sticks. You then have to button mash again until the 3 judge lights go off. That’s all there really is to it. Check out the video below:

Women’s Beach Volleyball is another hybrid event that allows both the controller and Kinect. The controller method is a little more finesse as you can move your character around with the left stick and also dive and smash/spike the ball. The Kinect method has your character automatically move around, and all you can do is either set the ball, lob it over or sometimes get it to smash/spike somehow. Once again, I preferred the Kinect Sports version. Here’s a video of it anyway:

Party Play

This is the fun area of the game. Party play allows you to try some different and challenging things, although some of the Party Play events are same as the regular events minus the nation you are representing and the announcers. Here’s the list of them and I put what methods you can use to play them. I will only go into detail about new events that weren’t covered earlier in the review:

  • 25m Rapid Fire Pistol – (Controller)
  • Archery Individual – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Archery Blitz – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Beach Volleyball – (Controller/Kinect)
  • 3m Springboard – (Controller)
  • Javelin Throw – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Javelin Target – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Freestyle Trampoline – (Controller)
  • Kayak Slalom – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Kayak Super Slalom – (Controller)
  • Kayak Super Sprint – (Kinect)
  • Keirin – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Keirin Battle – (Controller/Kinect)
  • Skeet – (Controller)
  • Skeet Attack – (Controller)
  • Table Tennis – (Controller/Kinect)
  • 100m – (Controller/Kinect)
  • 200m – (Kinect)
  • 110m Hurdles – (Kinect)

Archery Blitz is like the arcade version of Archery. You can play by yourself or with another human. You have to shoot arrows as fast possible to score as many points as possible in a set time limit. There are bonuses that you can hit though, such as additional time, 2x score, 25/50 points, etc. It’s quite fun and can be played both with a controller or Kinect. Multiplayer adds in a little more fun as you both can earn penalties for the other players. Here’s a video of the single player mode via Kinect:

Javelin Target is another arcade version that has a bullseye on the field. You have to try to score as many points as possible within a set number of rounds. I made a Kinect video of this one as well, but Kinect is much more challenging than the controller:

Kayak Slalom and Super Slalom are essentially the same thing, with going through the gates, the super slalom has moving ones, but you still have to do upstream gates. With the Kinect version, thankfully you don’t have to do upstream. The Kinect controls are just awful. The video for the Kinect version is above with the regular Kayak event. The Kinect only version of Super Sprint is just a race to the finish with no gates or obstacles, I didn’t really understand the point of it.

Keirin Battle is actually just like regular Keirin, except it has little bonuses you can get while going around the track. Nothing really special unfortunately.

Skeet Attack is a controller only event. It gives you 3 lives to start with. You have to shoot as many clays as possible. If you get hit with a clay, you lose a life. There are rounds where you basically get an automatic rifle and blast away. It can be fun for what it is. Here’s a video of it:

Challenges

Also in the party play mode is a challenge section but it’s only for more than one player. Basically, all are locked except for the first challenge. It consists of 3 events. Throughout all 3 events you have to do well in order to win stars based on your points. Because you are a team, you do get to combine your score with other team members. Winning the required amount of stars unlocks the next challenge. You receive 1 star for Bronze, 2 stars for Silver and 3 stars for Gold. It’s pretty self-explanatory. There are 8 challenges in total, although there are 8 challenges for the controller method and 8 for the Kinect method, albeit the same challenges, so it’s something extra to do.

Xbox Live

Here you have a whole complete online game as well. You can choose any of the 36 nations available and represent your country online. It can become quite competitive. All of the regular events are available online, not the Party Play ones, but you can only play them with the controller. I’m assuming the Kinect versions didn’t work out as planned. Anyhow, there is a menu in here that I’ll break down quickly. The first option is to choose a Quick Match, either public or private. It will find whatever random event is going on and throw you in it. You can also choose a Custom Match, searchable using the following categories:

  • Any Event
  • Versus Events
  • Race Events
  • Round Based Events
  • Mixed Events

You also have the option to compete in an online tournament which can always be invigorating. Depending on well you are doing, you can also take a look at Nation Pride Ranks as it accumulates all players representing the 36 nations to show who’s doing the best, or which country is basically playing the most. Lastly, you have your online leaderboards as well as Xbox Live Party options I’m pretty certain you can take up to 4 players online although I didn’t test it out.

Teams & Records

This area allows a few things, with more menu options. Leaderboards is normal, Event Records shows you the records for all of the vents. Game Progress keeps track of game completion as well as number of unlocks and more. Customise Teams allows you to change 8 of the countries outfits to their alternate ones. Lastly, Select Equipment allows you to equip your “gold” equipment that you unlock for performing well. There are only 8 pieces of equipment that you can change to gold. It’s more visual than anything.

Settings

Of course we have some settings as well. They are broken up into Audio settings, allowing you to Mute Party Music/Speech and change to Low Volume on the in-game Music, Speech and Sound Effects. Video and Game Settings allows you enable 3D (I don’t have a 3D TV so I can’t tell you if its cool), the 3D strength, Brightness and your Controller Vibration. Last, you can view the credits.

Graphics and Sound

This is one of the best looking Olympic games I have seen in a while. Everything is really detailed and authentic, although I can’t comprehend on why none of the real athletes are in here. The sounds are well done and sound authentic as well. It literally is a beautiful game.

Better with Kinect

So this is another Better with Kinect titles, is it better? Yes and no. Some events that I expected Kinect for, weren’t there and some of the controller events are just not fun, although Kinect on the dual control events does enhance it more. Mixing the two doesn’t really add any value to it, so the verdict on this one should just be “With Kinect”.

Conclusion

For an official Olympic game, its pretty official minus quite a few events, real athletes and the 150+ countries that are missing, it just seems this was made as a supplement to the Olympics. What I don’t get is the Olympics only happen every 2 years (alternating between summer and winter) – why would a game like this not have a ton of effort put into it? You have 2 or 4 years if you focus on one series, unlike the rest of the sports genre releasing a new title once a year. I don’t understand it, but anyway, for what it is, it’s alright. There’s quite a few events to keep the variety going and you might come back for some challenges, but I don’t see this one lasting that long. Maybe they’ll be more prepared and put more thought and effort into it when the 2016 Olympics Official Video Game arrives.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of London 2012
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