Ten minutes in, we had to eject the disc to confirm this was Summer Athletics 2009 and not last year%26rsquo;s inaugural iteration. Same controls, lack of online play, charmless monkey gyrating around on the loading screen, and %26ndash; barring two skeet shooting events %26ndash; the same disciplines. Hell, half the Achievements are identical. Summer Athletics 2008: now with added skeet shooting. There%26rsquo;s a shining endorsement.
What has 49Games been doing for the last year? It can%26rsquo;t have been programming the skeet shooting %26ndash; it%26rsquo;s a turgid reaction test, bringing the world%26rsquo;s dullest sport to life with 100% joyless accuracy. And few man-hours were spared for polishing up last year%26rsquo;s scare-o-visuals. From the soulless android sportsmen to textures seemingly spread on with a cement trowel, this looks like how the mid-1990s perceived games of the future to be. 3D, but totally unreal.
A shame, all in all, as the core controls remain a shining star in a genre plagued by ill-thought-out pad applications. Keeping all events mapped to analogue sticks and triggers plays to the controller%26rsquo;s strengths %26ndash; with the kind of palm sweats you expect from track and field games, you don%26rsquo;t want to be messing around with those slippery little face buttons. That said, swimming%26rsquo;s inward stick circling remains as swear-inducingly borked as it was twelve months ago.
Perhaps the controls are too welcoming. Twelve out of twenty-eight events boil down to waggling the right analogue stick and acing timed button presses. Bury the nubbin in your palm (fingers tire faster) and it%26rsquo;s not unusual to break world sprinting records and max out throwing distances in your very first attempt %26ndash; a fact shadily disguised by the conspicuous absence of online leaderboards. Isn%26rsquo;t it meant to take years to train for a medal? We can earn at least five golds while eating Hobnobs with our other hand. We%26rsquo;re legends, us.
Ironically, the whole farce is sponsored by Duracell %26ndash; a brand famed for its ability to go on and on. (And on.) Pairing with Summer Athletics 2009 is an ignorant move; there%26rsquo;s no way it%26rsquo;ll take the average player more than two AAs to see all it has to offer. Don%26rsquo;t let the games begin.
Aug 24, 2009