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Beijing 2008 REVIEW

Beijing 2008 Review (Xbox 360)

Recently, sports gamers have fretted over the word "accessible" and what it means to video gaming in general. When a company strives to make a sports game "accessible," the common connotation is that it will be "watered down," made too "kid-friendly," or simply less authentic.

So, to their credit, SEGA hasn't made Beijing 2008 "accessible" in any of those senses.

Unfortunately, they also haven't made it accessible at all.

Think of just about any Olympic or Track and Field game you've ever played, and you have a good idea of what to expect: lots of events and lots of button-mashing. Beijing 2008 features 36 different events – although some, like the 100m, 200m, and 400m, are very similar. All told, there are 27 different controls schemes to learn over 13 fields of competition. However, some are much easier to master than others.

This is where that word "accessible" comes into play. Beijing works best as a party game, online or off. But so-called "casual" gamers may be turned off by the steep learning curve of some of the events.

 


It has been over 20 years and game developers still don't know how to change up the formula.

There aren't any interactive tutorials or on-screen graphics that help you during the events. The only way to know what to do is by watching an often too short film before the event, or by reading the manual.

Frustration will surely ensue after your wife's third attempt at the triple jump goes successfully until she launches her athlete at an 88 degree angle by holding the trigger a fraction of a second too long. So unless you have some very dedicated and patient friends, your party should find entertainment elsewhere.

So, Beijing 2008 is not as accessible as, say, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. Maybe it shouldn't be – that game already exists to serve the casual gamer market. But if it's not "accessible" as a group game, does the intense practice pay off as a single player experience?

Unfortunately, no; this aspect of the game is lacking as well. The only dedicated single player mode has you taking a country through the games, with some light RPG elements thrown in.

When you qualify for an event, you earn some points that can be used to improve your team in categories like stamina, speed, and agility. These apply to your whole team, although it's not clear how or who benefits from which enhancement.

 


Beijing 2008 features a variety of sports to play through.

You can deduce that speed will enhance your sprinters, but does it apply to a thrower's approach? You must also watch your team's fatigue level; points can be spent to "rest" your team.

The game boasts team "customization," but you are really just assigning one of about 15 generic athletes to each different event. In other words, your custom American team may feature "white guy #1" swimming, "Asian female #3" in the archery events, etc. I'm making up those labels, by the way, because you can't even assign names to the generic athletes.

Finally, if you don't satisfy a daily quota of qualifications, your progress is lost and you have to replay that "day's" competitions – regardless of your results in any individual events. Essentially, it's like dying in a shooter and having to restart the level from the beginning. Not very realistic.

If you do indeed have the right mix of people to play this game, or you don't mind a pretty basic single player experience, there are many things to like about this game.

 


Unfortunately, the game falls just short of doing great things.

Visually, this game is outstanding. The player models are very fluid for the most part, and highly detailed. You can evaluate how you did after an event based on the model's emotional display.

Water effects are particularly nice – a quick glance at any of the swimming events could convince anyone the Summer Games have started early. Celebrations, on-screen presentations, and a short interactive fireworks display are well done and fully support the Olympic theme. This game definitely looks and feels Olympic.

Some of the controls are different than past Olympic games, and utilize both analogue sticks at the same time, "balancing" a dot in a certain area, or simulating a throw with the flick of a stick. Even the ability to toggle a stick instead of pressing two buttons alternately is a blessing – although your controller might not think so. The mechanic for getting a "quick start or jumping the gun" while challenging, works well.

While some of the events are unique for a multi-sport game, it's these events that work the least. Controls in the table-tennis, Judo, and kayak events are done poorly. Shooting events are dull and the archery event play out like every darts mini-game you've ever played. Cycling is just a cross between swimming and sprinting.

It could probably be labeled a "niche" game, and for those people looking for this specific type of experience, it may satisfy your needs.

Being that this is an Olympic game, it's inherently not going to have the same level of interest as football or baseball (at least here in the States). It could probably be labeled a "niche" game, and for those people looking for this specific type of experience, it may satisfy your needs.

However, the best "niche" games, to me, fulfill that corner of the market while serving as a bridge to bring others in. If you don't have an intense love of all things Olympics, you probably won't have the patience to look past this title's shortcomings.

In The Olympic Stadium: Gameplay is hit or miss across the various events. Some are original, some are pretty repetitive, and some just don't work (Kayak). Many are difficult to achieve even average results, which might turn away some.

Graphics: Visually, this game is stunning. Great character models and Olympic themes.

Sound: Your standard generic sports game music and announcer here. Although you can turn "commentary" on or off, it's used so infrequently it probably doesn't matter.

Entertainment Value: Works best as a multiplayer game, but finding someone who wants to play may be tough. Won't appeal to the mini-game crowd. Not much to offer the single player unless that person loves the Olympics enough to repeatedly simulate the games. The variety of events helps replay value a bit.

Learning Curve: For those events that are standard (sprinting, etc.) it's pick up and play. For others, it will take a while to learn the controls and build up enough hand stamina for a lengthy "mashing session." Once you have the controls down, you may still have trouble qualifying or medaling against the computer. In-game, on-screen controls or interactive tutorials would have helped. As it is, you can't even pause to check what controls to use.

Online: Options include head-to-head, eight player single competitions, and tournaments. Online is probably the best way to experience this game, although there is a bit of lag at times.


Beijing 2008 Score
Outstanding visuals.
Large number of events.
Sometimes a fun multiplayer experience.
Shallow and unrealistic single player mode.
Various events control very poorly.
Gameplay can be overly repetitive.
6
out of 10
Member Comments
# 1 DubTrey1 @ 07/21/08 02:34 PM
Great review. Saved me the trouble of renting so my wife & I could play a game together for a change.
 
# 2 BSanders @ 07/21/08 03:02 PM
Thanks for the review, DubTrey I suggest renting it and making your own judgement, I think it's the best Olympic game made and that's my opinion like reviews are. Look at IGN review of NCAA 09 and 08 one point difference and I think it's way better than 08. BTW.. Judo is one of my favorite events.
 
# 3 LingeringRegime @ 07/21/08 07:18 PM
I think I will buy this one soon. Looks like it would be fun with the wife.
 
# 4 texbuk84 @ 07/22/08 01:23 AM
great review wasn't going to buy anyway.
 
# 5 allBthere @ 07/22/08 08:51 AM
It's a good game. There has never been a better representation of track and field events. The field events are particularly satisfying. I rented the game, and couldn't stop going for olympic and world records, and if you stick with it, you'll get them.

I can't agree w/ all of the review either. If you played the game and BEAT the game, it actually becomes better because you get to go through the olympics again w/ you team completely maxed out.

It can be frustrating however since you have to 'groove' w/ the controls after you understand them. Sprinting for example it's best to 'waggle', but waggling means going completely sideways and I don't think everyone gets that. So it's easiest to hold the controler on an angle and use the right analog and just make sure that you're going fast completely to the left and right (not up and down).

Also the shooting is great imo except for skeet shooting. I'm 375th on live for the 10m shooting, and have high rankings on many other events w/ is actually exciting for a change rather than being 233,429th, you can actually see a progression as you play and get better. I just returned it, but wish i still had it to challege OSers to field events since I belive no one can out discus or javelin me lol.

Very unique game, that I may rent again during the olympics. I believe everyone should at least try it - compared to every other olympic game it blows them all away. It's fun to trade tactics too on some events since some people just naturally 'get it' more than others on one event, but get stuck on others.

anyway, i was pleasantly suprised and I think others will be too.
 
# 6 allBthere @ 07/22/08 09:05 AM
just want to add that my girlfriend liked the game. It's also not fair to fault the game for being hard, after all the 360 is slanted more towards core gamers. Would a game be worth buying if you can immediately get massive scores w/o taking the time to learn the skills? At least this game rewards you for learning and doing well, and imo it should be hard. To me this is a 7.5 overall, and for niche fans 8.5 and up.
 
# 7 CPRoark @ 07/22/08 09:58 AM
Hey guys,
thanks for the comments. As always, this review is only my opinion, so disagreements are fine.

This probably is one of the better Olympic games produced, and like I said, if you are into these games, you may be pleased. And I fully prepared for a comment like allBthere's: "not fair to fault the game for being hard." My issue, and I hope I communicated this well enough, is not that it's too hard. I like a challenge. The problem is that it's best as a multiplayer game, but the difficulty will turn others away.

If the single player were more fun (again, just to me), the difficulty isn't an issue. It's not an issue either if you have 3+ friends who are up for the challenge.

I'll defend my 6 as being within the OS guidelines, those being that a 6 falls in the range of an slightly above average, fun game, with a lack of depth and some design issues. Most importantly is the idea that this game probably won't appeal to those who aren't fans of the sport.

To me, this game is definitely a rental, but I can't recommend a purchase to those who aren't big time Olympic fans. Try it, you may like it.

Keep the comments coming! And don't forget to give a use score, especially if you disagree with me
 
# 8 Alliball @ 07/22/08 10:14 AM
I long for the days of Track and Field and Decathlon by Activision on the Atari 2600, both of which I spent many an hour playing and trying to beat my personal best. When T&F hit the 360 I was excited, it finally gave me a chance to look good online. I never heard so many, OOOO's and AAAAAh's when it was my turn to run, throw or jump. This game might just fill the bill.
 
# 9 allBthere @ 07/22/08 10:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CPRoark
Hey guys,
thanks for the comments. As always, this review is only my opinion, so disagreements are fine.

This probably is one of the better Olympic games produced, and like I said, if you are into these games, you may be pleased. And I fully prepared for a comment like allBthere's: "not fair to fault the game for being hard." My issue, and I hope I communicated this well enough, is not that it's too hard. I like a challenge. The problem is that it's best as a multiplayer game, but the difficulty will turn others away.

If the single player were more fun (again, just to me), the difficulty isn't an issue. It's not an issue either if you have 3+ friends who are up for the challenge.

I'll defend my 6 as being within the OS guidelines, those being that a 6 falls in the range of an slightly above average, fun game, with a lack of depth and some design issues. Most importantly is the idea that this game probably won't appeal to those who aren't fans of the sport.

To me, this game is definitely a rental, but I can't recommend a purchase to those who aren't big time Olympic fans. Try it, you may like it.

Keep the comments coming! And don't forget to give a use score, especially if you disagree with me
Oh I didn't think you were way off or anything, just so you know. It was a good review, I just think it definitely swayed people away from trying it as the first comment suggests. We differ in that I only played single player (training, olympics, challenge) and I enjoyed that quite a bit. And I noticed that I got achievements for beating my personal bests which was pretty cool.

It is hard though, and frustrating especially at the beginning, but when you get a WR or OR, it's totally fist pumping material.

these games come out rarely, and they always get bad scores (but not this one), so to me it's sort of a triumph. I was very suprised at the production values - this is not a cheap olympic cash-in, they really set out to make a good game imo.

I absolutely agree on not recommending a purchase, it is a game that you must try, and like me you may have a lot of fun with it during a week rental and feel that you got your fill. I may rent it again, and I may not, but it was a very good rental imo. It's not one that I returned early for sure.
 
# 10 allBthere @ 07/22/08 10:19 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alliball
I long for the days of Track and Field and Decathlon by Activision on the Atari 2600, both of which I spent many an hour playing and trying to beat my personal best. When T&F hit the 360 I was excited, it finally gave me a chance to look good online. I never heard so many, OOOO's and AAAAAh's when it was my turn to run, throw or jump. This game might just fill the bill.
there's another t&f game comming next week, I'm going to try to check that out too, although it might not be 'big' enough for rental stores to carry it.
 
# 11 wayne23 @ 07/22/08 11:10 AM
Beijing 2008 would have been a great game for the Wii.
 

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