And it’s hard to fathom why some sports have even been included in the first place. Judo, for instance, is tricky to follow at the best of times, and the tutorial for those not in the know is rubbish. It took a good ten defeats before we caught on to what was happening. Essentially you have to very quickly match the arrows that flash up on screen with directional presses. Eventually this works your participant into an advantageous position from which you can throw or choke your opponent, so you’re supposed to hit a button until the movie is initiated. It all feels totally random and aimless – it doesn’t feel as though there is any technique involved at all, and the rules of the sport just seem a little too obscure to be included in the game in place of something like rowing.
The structure of the game lends itself perfectly to quick-fire match-ups between mates. Whether it’s a simple race to see who’s the better button masher, or who can achieve the faster/higher/stronger personal best, Beijing 2008’s simplicity (for the most part) allows for largely uncomplicated contests, and perhaps its greatest strength lies in its ‘just one more go’ spirit. Of course, there’s always the danger of your hands giving out long before your interest wanes.
This simplicity is also one of its key shortcomings. Once you’ve completed the Olympics mode, that’s it save for blister comparisons. The setup is simple: you play through a number of competition days with the aim of meeting and beating a requirement; qualify for three finals, say, or finish fourth in at least four events. These are broken up with special challenge days which give you the opportunity to stack up points to spend on improving your team’s stamina, speed, power and the like. Points also allow you to minimise your team’s fatigue levels, so it might be wiser to ski challenge days and rest between competitions. This team management aspect is something we would love to have seen developed. It could have been a cool new slant to add some real depth to the game. As it is we have the flimsiest of ‘career’ modes which is a vaguely themed sequence of events and nothing more. Beijing 2008 is good value. Track and field events are fun, but there’s not much under the surface.
Jul 8, 2008