So yet another Olympic Games is upon us and of course the rash of marketing and advertising has begun in earnest. However this time around there was no hype behind the Video Game, in fact so much so it wasn't until just before the Olympics we remembered a game was on the way from a company trying to muscle in on EA's territory; 2K Sports. Most Olympic titles remain poor and a cash in and while Torino 2006 does an adequate job of bringing the Olympic Games home, it still suffers from the problem that most Olympic games suffer - rushed gameplay.
Torino 2006 is designed to give you the opportunity to be the only athlete to compete in up to fifteen events for the one Olympics and with that it does a fairly good job. However it's the execution which seems to have failed this time around. The fact is, two hours after you start playing, you will have seen everything the game has to offer and while that is not unusual for a sports game, the sports featured are so niche that it is hard to see people playing them over and over again.
For those who are interested in the title however, there are sixteen sports featured. However this is a bit of a misdemeanor considering that the Luge and Bobsleigh tracks are the same and really all that changes is the graphics and look of what you're riding. The sports range from Biathlon (which is quite frankly, one of the sports that make you wonder why it was not dropped in favor of something useful and interesting such as Figure Skating) through to the downhill and speed skating. There is a nice variety but once you've gone through the Olympics once, chances are some of the sports you will not want to play again.
What the developers have achieved well is the sense of speed. Hurtling down the Super G and Downhill courses can feel scary and perhaps gives you just some kind of idea what the skiers are feeling on that mountain on Italy. However the other sports leave a little to be desired. For instance, the Biathlon is just plain boring. We've got no problem with people skiing for kilometres in the Olympics, but it just doesn't make for a very good game. Other sports are fairly boring as well. The thing is the sports themselves would make fantastic games if they had been executed properly.
In terms of authenticity it really is second to none. Having the official license has allowed 2K Sports to recreate the city of Turin and the venues but as mentioned before, many of the famous sports have been left out. The official logos etc have been used but something which may disappoint is that you can't specify the gender of your athlete. The game has pre-determined athletes for each sport and this in some ways can seem sexist considering all the 'dangerous' sports are male and the more timid sports are females, except for the Slalom.
Visually the game is fairly well done and the venues do look good. However there are a few things which make no sense. First of all in the bobsleigh and luge it is impossible to crash. This is ridiculous and takes the complete challenge out of the event. The animations for crashing are quite disappointing as well, but considering the aim is to stay upright on skis this is quite acceptable. The viewpoints can't be changed either. While a first person view brings home the true terror of the luge and bobsleigh, it would have been nice to be able to change to a third person perspective, as it makes the game much easier.
Overall Torino 2006 is not just a cash in but it's also not a game that you should buy. A rental during the Olympics is the best you're going to get out of this but once the Olympic Flame goes out, you will find yourself with a rather expensive doorstop, or something which gathers dust. If any publisher wants success with Beijing 2008, they really have to start work on it now because as has been proven time and time again, rushing Olympic games does not work.