Vancouver 2010 • Page 2

Thin ice.

The repetition plumbs ridiculous depths with Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton though, which are almost exactly the same. The only minor point of difference comes from having to use both sticks to adjust the position of two bobsled riders rather than the single condom-clad athletes of the others, but it has a negligible effect on the gameplay.

These are sports that may require unique skills and strengths in real life, but when you're steering with a joypad rather than your body weight all nuance is lost. The fact that all three events use the same track makes it even harder to tell them apart. It's not an isolated complaint, either. Ladies Ski Cross is identical to Men's Snowboard Cross, for instance; the same controls, on the same course, but with a different character.

On the rare occasions when the game does venture timidly out from its comfort zone, the results are inevitably mixed. The ski jump is a thrill for a few tries, but it doesn't take long to master the timing of the rudimentary button-presses required and then it becomes little more than a bite-sized distraction. If you played the demo, then you've seen all this event has to offer, too.

Ladies Freestyle Aerials, meanwhile, uses a similar system to the wretched diving events in the Beijing 2008 game. Using both sticks to align rotating rings and moving buttons is stiff and awkward enough to be irritating, and it rarely feels fair, let alone fun. The two ice-skating events offer only long, tedious button-bashing circuits around the rink with slippery steering, which may be accurate but doesn't really translate to a thrilling videogame experience.

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Purists still argue that Sledge Humping should not be an Olympic sport. They may have a point.

There's a tempting "Challenges" option on the menu but, sure enough, that's just another way to rehash the same events even more times. You'll be doing the same races down the same courses, but trying to hit a specific top speed, or beat a certain time, or hit snowmen to keep the clock from counting down. You almost want to pat the developer on the head for making an effort, but it's still the same mouthfuls regurgitated and served up over and over, and it will take more than a sprig of parsley to make the meal appetising.

What's most interesting is what's been left out. Despite the stark lack of variety, the winter events that could have supplied this much-needed change of pace have been mysteriously ignored. Figure skating may not be the most marketable sport around, but with a little influence from the numerous skateboarding games out there, it could have broadened the package.

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This was actually the view from my window, last week.

Ditto for ice hockey. This may be well-served by standalone titles, but even in a stripped-down form it could only make this more substantial. The long-haul stamina trial of a cross-country ski-and-shoot biathlon would be difficult to fit into the glorified mini-game template, but that's precisely why it's so sorely missed. And was there really no way to find space for a bit of curling?

Everything about the Winter Olympics that can't be crammed into the narrow confines of a frostbitten racing engine has been swept under the rug, and what has been included is undone by brazen repetition. Whether because of time or budget limitations, or just a simple decision to keep the development as simple as possible, Vancouver 2010 is irrevocably diminished. There's no faulting the production values, but there's no way to recommend such a painfully thin game.

3 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy Vancouver 2010 Dan Whitehead Thin ice. 2010-01-18T11:30:00+00:00 3 10

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