Vancouver 2010 - The Official Game of the Olympic Winter Games Review

By Mike D'Alonzo - Posted Jan 19, 2010

In February, the world's greatest Winter Olympic athletes will descend on Vancouver for 16 days of competition and with that comes the obligatory licensed game. SEGA's Vancouver 2010 is a game that will show you just how hard some winter Olympic events can be and will give you a whole new level of respect for what these athletes go through in an effort to bring home the gold.

The Pros
  • Realistic simulation of the speed and difficulty of winter events
  • Streamlined presentation
  • Fun side challenges
The Cons
  • Not enough variety in the events
  • Frustratingly difficult at times
  • Not as immersive an Olympic experience as you'd hope

In February, the world’s greatest Winter Olympic athletes will descend on Vancouver for 16 days of competition and with that comes the obligatory licensed game. SEGA’s Vancouver 2010 is a game that will show you just how hard some winter Olympic events can be and will give you a whole new level of respect for what these athletes go through in an effort to bring home the gold.

Unfortunately, what 2010 will not give you is an immersive Olympic experience that in any way makes you feel like you’re living the event, nor will it provide the variety of sports that makes the winter Olympics such an interesting and diverse event every four years.

Vancouver 2010

Spanning The Globe

Ever since Summer Games hit the Commodore 64 in 1984, the Olympics have been a staple of the gaming world, providing a reliable entry into the market whenever there is a companion real-life event to market. These games have been of varying quality, but, for the most part, have often been disparaged as lightweight efforts.

Vancouver 2010 is an anomaly within the trend of subpar Olympic video games. The overall quality of the game is solid, with very well-done graphics and a streamlined presentation that gets you right into the action. However, it does this without any of the pomp associated with the actual Olympic Games. Because of this, 2010 feels like a collection of winter sports that comes without any of the context that makes the Olympics so much fun to watch.

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To Bring You A Constant Variety of Sports?

Vancouver 2010’s biggest issue is the lack of variety provided in the 14 events that are represented in the game. Of them, fully half are of the alpine downhill variety, whether that be downhill skiing, slalom, or snowboarding. There are also three sled-based events, including bobsleigh, luge and skeleton. Add to that two speed skating events, ladies aerials and ski jumping and you have the completed list.

In the past, some of the most fun you could have playing an Olympic video game was by doing some of the more bizarre events, such as the skiing and shooting spectacular that is the biathlon and the endurance festival that is cross-country skiing. Vancouver 2010 would benefit from some of that variety, since so many of the events in the game are so close to each other thematically.

The events are also similar to each other in terms of gameplay. If you learn to ski in one event, you pretty much have the hang of the other six. It’s the same with the sledding-based games. The requisite button-mashing makes speed skating a buzzkill and the aerials and ski jumping feature tactical effort that suck the fun right out of them. Luckily, tutorials are provided at the beginning of each event--every time--so if you can’t remember how to do a certain thing, you can relearn at your leisure.

Vancouver 2010

The Thrill of Victory

That’s not to say that there’s no fun to be had in playing Vancouver 2010. The alpine events show you, perhaps for the first time, how very reckless and dangerous it seems to hurtle down a mountain at 100 MPH. Sledding will give you a good sense of what it’s like to always be just one small mistake from biting it and sliding a half mile down a frozen tube either on your face or with a giant sled nearly crushing you to death. You’ll feel those speeds and a sense of thrill as you try and carve a big turn, fully exposed, without crashing disastrously into some sort of barrier.

The best part of Vancouver 2010, hands down, is the set of challenges that you are presented on the side. Whether you’re trying to maintain a constant speed of 70 MPH in a bobsleigh, or trying to avoid snowmen while finishing a slalom course, these challenges really ask you to master the gameplay and yield a fun experience that will keep those achievement grabbers happy.

Vancouver 2010

The Agony of Defeat

What’s not so good is the Olympic presentation, or rather, lack thereof. The rules are simple: you (and three other people, be they on your couch or online), choose a country to represent and you’re off to the Games. One event, one very short medal ceremony, and that’s all there is to it. It would have been nice to be able to stack a series of events together to make for a more encompassing experience, and for there to be some sort of commentary or run-through voiceover. Instead, you get some very middle-of-the-road anonymous pop punk music to accompany your journey.

The end result is that the meat of the game doesn’t feel very Olympic so much as it feels like a series of slapped-together events. Also, there is very little to encourage you to continue playing. The events are, in a word, hard. So hard, in fact, that you’ll likely give up on trying to win a gold medal and just head back to the challenges, which seem to make more sense as far as a learning curve goes.

And the Bronze Medal Goes To…

In the end, the most frustrating thing about Vancouver 2010 isn’t what’s in the game, but what’s not. There’s enough good content on disc that it’s not a total debacle, but at the same time, perhaps not enough to justify the $50 price tag. It’s a shame, because a little more depth and a commitment to make the game feel more like the Winter Olympics would have resulted in a gold-medal effort. What we’re left with, instead, seems average at best.