Is this the hardest game in the world? Possibly - and not because there's a particularly steep learning curve - it's just that you need thumbs of steel to be any good at the thing. This is a button-mashing extravaganza (much like the Track and Field games of yesteryear) and it'll tear your fingers to pieces.
The thing is, though, this mashing madness inadvertently makes Athens 2004 a fairly accurate simulation of real athletics. Sort of. You start the race, furiously bashing away like a sexually-frustrated baboon, but as the finish line draws near you start to tire - the rigours of the race saps your strength and you claw away at the buttons with your last droplets of energy, feverishly trying to eke a victory out of the DualShock. But to no avail. You arse it up, lose the round and your chances of achieving gold are dashed. Just like the real Olympics, then - especially for the British.
The majority of events involve tapping Square and Circle sequentially, but some call the L1 button into play. For instance, swimming requires you to periodically gasp for air, so a tap of L1 makes your athlete pop their head out for a breather. Okay, so it's not the most complex game in the world, but it's a lot of fun. Not for extended periods of time, but a quick ten minute blast will keep your fun lobes well and truly appeased.
Some events make more traditional use of your controller; skeet shooting and archery utilize a basic 'push X to fire' system, but ultimately the game boils down to endless tapping. In saying that, Eurocom have attempted some variation. Connecting a dance mat to the PS2 opens up a range of compatible events - gymnastics will test your footwork, whilst track events require you to actually run to push your character forward. The game also shines in multiplayer; four people can batter away at events, and this competitive nature makes it ideal for battling with your mates.
Athens 2004 is out on 2 July.