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Beijing 2008 (Playstation 3/Xbox 360)

Beijing 2008 (Playstation 3/Xbox 360)

Eurocom and Sega are bringing one of the only Olympic style games to the console market with Beijing 2008. It features nearly 40 events, top quality presentation and on paper should satisfy even the most hard core sports fan. But does it actually deliver the goods?

The most important aspect of a game in this genre is the event roster and with these Beijing 2008 delivers a good cross section of events, from the 100 meter sprint to floor exercises. If you are an Olympics fan you certainly can’t fault the developer Eurocom for taking shortcuts with the selection on offer.

The game is split into two modes. Competition and Olympics. Competition mode allows you to play with three other players locally or seven online and you can select the events you wish to play. It is as simple as it sounds and works very well. You can check individual standings as you progress, however the winner doesn’t really get treated to a grand finale or awards ceremony which is rather disappointing, especially with all the effort it takes to win!

Olympics mode is a slightly different in that your team (based on country) progresses through a series of events on a day by day basis and each day has a specific goal and you complete this to move on. If you fail, you have to attempt that day over again. These goals work on a difficulty scale, such as having to qualify for a single event on one, then having to earn a medal in every effect you partake in. Overall I found this mode rather easy and fun, well until they threw in the combat games, but more on that later. Obviously as you are working in a team environment in Olympics mode there are statistics assigned, but what is interesting is that you can upgrade the teams abilities each day. You also need to deal with managing your teams fatigue level as well which adds an interesting twist to the dynamics. If you participate for example in a Challenge Day you get a lot more points to spread across the possible improvements but you also have to deal with a higher level of group tiredness.

The only downside of Olympics mode is that your athletes start off under specification, so when you boost your statistics each day you are really only getting them nearer to their normal levels. I found this a rather bizarre decision from the developers and it is hard to set any new records until the end of the whole tournament.

The control mechanics are very well handled as they are diverse in their implementation. To run you can either alternate between pressing both face buttons or you can waggle the analog stick left and right. Swimming requires you to move both analog sticks to mimic your arms, you rotate one clockwise and the other counterclockwise. These basic procedures are used to varying levels depending on the event. Weightlifting combines two different techniques, you have to build up power as fast as you can then switch to balancing the weight to keep the barbell in the air.

Interestingly there are some of the events which start with "mini games". For example rather than waiting for the starting gun to mash buttons you need to use the pad triggers to manage a power meter to keep it close to the red starting spot. Taking this too high you will jump the gun and be disqualified but if you play it too safely and it is low you get a poor (late) start and will have to battle to catch up. As I said this is a rather interesting concept but in practise it can be rather negative.

When the gun fires you need to pull and hold the trigger until the meter breaches the red starting section of the meter, however if you mess this up and aren’t close this can take a second and you are heavily penalised. In reality this can mean you end up a second behind the other people in the event rather than it being a "bonus".

All in all however the control method works reasonably well such as the javelin throw. When you run up you then have to press the left analog stick back in conjunction with the athletes arm movement, then move it quickly it up and forward to set the angle of throw. In much the same manner the diving controls are just as intuitive as you follow one or two rotating dots that correspond to your movement with the analog sticks. Throughout the game it is clear they spent considerable time thinking about how the controls should work within the events specific movement scheme.

It is not all great however, and the combat section of the game is poorly handled. With Judo you have to press the corresponding direction to match cues on screen with one of the analog sticks. This is possible until the takedown occurs, then you have to enter a button combination which seems more based on luck and chance than anything founded. The manual states that you should experiment and play around to find out which works best, but it ends up a frustrating and annoying experience and it is in no way intuitive.

The graphics are varied in quality and while the motion of the athletes looks rather impressive, the backgrounds and some of the models (like the kayaks) are substandard. Neither Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 have a problem running the game, and for all intents and purposes they look virtually identical. It certainly will not be winning any awards but it does a reasonable job of representing the real world events.

The sound is totally nondescript as you don’t for the most part even notice it is there, which in this kind of game might be a good thing.

Beijing 2008 is not a wonderful game, it has its fair share of faults and annoyances, however it can be enjoyable in company or online with some friends. Obviously it goes without saying, if you hate button mashing then you are going to hate this title but I think you would already know this before reading the review. Recommended to fans of the genre but otherwise it is probably best avoided.


A clever approach to the game mechanics which for the most part do the job well.


Athletes look well but the rest ranges from average to substandard.


Nothing at all worth mentioning, but it isn’t bad or annoying.

If you like to break times and set your own records then the long term worth might prove high. Most people won’t however.
(not an average)

A decent attempt at an Olympics game but it really is not breaking any ground.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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