Game Reviews

Vancouver 2010

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| Vancouver 2010
Vancouver 2010
| Vancouver 2010

I’ve always wanted to try skiing, but the bright clothing and silly glasses have always put me off.

Okay, actually it’s the whole ‘broken bones’ part that puts me off, as I’m one of the unlucky few that have managed to roll a toboggan on a dry slope.

Thankfully Vancouver 2010 is here to help me reach my dreams of being a world record breaking skiier, although I have a feeling my thumbs will be the ones in a sling if I don’t ease off soon.

Push it to the limit

Yes, Playman is back and this time he’s carrying an official license for the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Don’t worry, though - the thumb-crushingly good gameplay and excellent production values have made the transition intact even if the name hasn’t.

There are five new events to take part in, each designed to test the limits of your keypad’s build quality. The first, Cross Country, is the returning classic in which you have to hammer the '4' and '6' keys depending on the icons that appear on screen.

It’s trickier than it sounds because the numbers appear either once or twice in succession, constantly throwing you out of the comfort zone. For Playman veterans, this event is longer than the 100m dash from the last Summer Games title, so concentration is severely tested.

Two other events have their roots in Cross Country, but bring some intriguing twists to the gameplay. Freestyle Moguls adds a timed jump that requires you to hold down the 5 key perfectly during sprints.

The other, ‘Biathlon’, adds one of the finest abstract simulations of a rifle range on any gaming system, requiring a great deal of concentration, patience and good eyesight.

The final two events have no sprinting in whatsoever, which delighted my remaining digits. The aforementioned 500m short track relies on holding down the '4' and '6' keys sequentially, releasing at just the right moment. As the race progresses the timing slows down, finishing with a quick stab on the '5' key to slide your competitor over the line

The final discipline is the Snowboard Cross, which takes place, controversially, at a semi-overhead angle. The idea is to direct your snowboard along the track without sliding off the edges, cutting corners finely and making sure the pesky bumps don’t send your character out of bounds.

Going for Gold

All the events are extremely well presented, with some fantastic visuals and great character animations. There are also tonnes of neat little touches that really raise this game above the competition like the replays that play in the background after an event: properly drawn, animated crowds or the way in which other human players’ turns are shown on the current player’s go.

The only disappointing aspect is the lack of middle ground in the difficulty. While the easiest level is fairly painless, the next (and final) one up can be a real struggle, and prevents the unlocking of the excellent ‘Survival’ mode.

Once you break past the pain barrier and finally kick Bjorn into the snow, the local and online world records, great multiplayer mode, and deceptively clever gameplay will keep dragging you back for just one more record attempt.

Vancouver 2010

Addictive, frustrating, elating and exhausting, Vancouver 2010 is a fantastic game whether it’s played for records or against friends