A hands on review of London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games, from the launch at the BT Tower attended by Daley Thompson.
- Over 45 playable events
- Faithful recreation of Olympic venues
- Single and multiplayer options
- Online play
- Available on PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
- Release date: 29 June
- Price: £39.99 on consoles, £25.99 on PC
London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games: Look and Feel
The official game of the London 2012 Olympics aims to give players a true-life recreation of the Olympiad. You won't find a cartoon hedgehog or an Italian plumber running amok in these virtual events.
Instead there are plenty of photorealistic athletes taking part in real-life British venues. Customisation of characters means you can even recreate yourself in the game. If you have always harboured a dream to compete for your country at the highest level, then finally you can make that wish come true.
Do not expect to see any familiar faces, though. This is not Fifa, where your favourite football players are recreated as digital doppelgängers and you won't spot any familiar faces from Team GB. That's because lengthy selection processes to choose who will participate in the real life games didn't leave any time for that level of customisation. "They only announced the UK archery team yesterday," a spokesman for the game tells us, as we flick a joypad controller backwards and raise our virtual bow.
At least the venues have all been faithfully realised with the events taking place in the stadiums, buildings and sport tracks that will host the real life games. Cycling takes place at the Velodrome, swimming takes place at the Aquatics Centre and venues such as the North Greenwich Arena feature too.
London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games: Features
Sega has done a great job of recreating the games in a playable yet faithful way. Players can compete for medals in over 45 events, including a host of new disciplines that make their debut in London 2012. They include trampoline, Keirin (cycling) and the 10m Synchronised Platform diving.
Options include both single and multiplayer competitions, with gamers taking on their friends in the same room or playing online against competitors from around the world. It's actually the first time an Official Video Game of the Olympic Games has offered the opportunity to compete online.
London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games: Gameplay
Having British legend Daley Thompson appear at the launch could give old school gamers the wrong idea that this is nothing more than an update to the button-mashing, joystick waggling madness that was Daley Thompson's Decathlon.
Thankfully, it's not simply a case of who can pound the joypad the fastest and most events used what can best be described as 'controlled button bashing'. Hitting the buttons quickly will make your digital avatar swim faster or run quicker but it's important to keep the level of performance at the optimal point on the onscreen scale. Mash away mindlessly and the scale tops out and goes red and you'll actually slow down as a result.
Gameplay in the single player mode is enhanced thanks to three difficulty levels. Beginners are well served by an inclusive Easy mode and more experienced gamers can still feel like they are being challenged by playing the events on the Difficult setting.
The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games is also compatible with the Xbox Kinect and PlayStation Move motion gaming systems, although the version of the game we played was running on PCs so we didn't get to exert anything other than our thumbs.
Budding living room Olympians will be able to compete in a dozen events including the 110m Hurdles, Beach Volleyball (Xbox Kinect only) and 25m Rapid Fire Pistol (PlayStation Move only). We'll let you know how well that motion-tracked gaming works when we get a full review copy.
London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games: Verdict
While there's nothing groundbreaking in this sporty collection, Sega has done a great job of faithfully recreating the events and the UK locations. London 2012 - The Official Videogame of the Olympic Games looks stunning in high definition and the addition of the venues where the sports will actually take place really adds to the overall realistic feel.
Gameplay is suitably challenging and certain fields are particularly playable. Our favourite was the pistol shooting, where players have to try and hit five targets in only four seconds in later rounds. However, some of the other events lack that same spark. For instance, the replay value of the high diving event was low, as the need to hit button sequences at the right time does not translate into much fun.
Overall, there is enough here to keep armchair Olympians occupied and entertained. With Kinect and PlayStation Move options, it could even get you out of that armchair and doing your bit for your country.