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This is the official video game of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and it features 12 of the most popular events. Nothing has been left to chance here, with real athletes motion captured, stadiums re-created and each of the 32 countries that are participating in the actual event available for selection.
While there are a couple of original events included, its fair to say that the majority of them use the tried and tested formula seen in all athletics games past and present where the aim is simply to alternately bash two of your joypads buttons as quickly as possible to get your competitor moving, then press an 'action' button to get them to jump, lift, spring, throw or turn.
Visually these games have moved on massively when compared to those released around the last Olympic games. All of the athletes are now huge in comparison and both look and move far more realistically than thought possible on the PlayStation. The only aspect of them that could have been improved would have been the inclusion of more realistic skin textures on competitors arms and legs. Character animation is great for many of the events, however, the faster ones all suffered from a lack of believable speed - possibly due to our ageing console struggling to keep up with the amount of movement on screen.
Because the amount of polygons used in each athlete was obviously massive, there appears to have been little left to use on everything else in the game. The stadiums look horrible and items such as the Javelin and Hammer are a joke. Things aren't made any better by the use of some terrible camera angles that make it difficult to see your character at critical points (especially when there are a few of you playing). I hesitate to say this, but it seems like Eidos may have been so concerned to get this in the stores to coincide with the event, that a few corners may have been cut in the quality control department..!
Commentary is provided by top names in each country and for the most part it works well, complimenting the action nicely. Other spot effects are adequate - such as the grunts and groans of competitors and cheers of the crowd. Background music is minimal, but well produced with a nice aboriginal feel to it.
Games like this will live or die depending on the complexity of the events. Too easy and they become pointless and boring. Too difficult and the ability to invite a bunch of friends around (who don't own the game) is completely lost. Sydney 2000 has a combination of both types, with the high jump being so easy that your dog could probably get a new world record after a little practice, while both the hurdles and skeet shooting will be complete disasters for novice players. The K1 Kayak slalom however suffers from such unresponsive controls that at least EVERYONE will do badly no matter what your experience.
Its not all bad news though. Both the Hammer Throw and Diving are a massive improvement over Konami's International Track and Field, using completely new control and timing methods that work very well indeed.
Another nice touch is the use of a refined joypad monitoring system that requires you to strictly alternate between the SQUARE and CIRCLE power buttons, penalizing you whenever you get out of sync. This discourages some of the methods used on other games to obtain ridiculously high scores. It was also nice to see a handicap system made available, so that young and old, experts and novices can all play together.
The most original feature in the game is the single player mode. Here you specialize in an event and take a young athlete through various stages of qualifying trials until they are good enough to compete for an Olympic medal. In order to continually improve, you must complete several training tasks in the gym (running, weights, climbing, jumping and reaction tests). This is a wonderful attempt to extend the lifespan of a genre that typically make very poor single player games - only spoiled by the amount of wasted time you spend staring at loading screens. I can only hope future games follow (and of course refine) the principal of this idea.
· The events included are: 100m Sprint, 110m Hurdles, Hammer, Javelin, Triple Jump, High Jump, 100m Freestyle Swimming, Olympic Sprint Cycling, Skeet Shooting, Super Heavyweight Weight Lifting, 10m Platform Diving and Kayak K1 Slalom
· Various modes of play: Olympic, Arcade and Coaching.
· Arcade mode is a points-based game, with competitors taking part in the final of each of the selected events.
· Olympic Mode is a single player game offering depth and progression. Olympic mode enables the player to train a squad of athletes to Gold medal standard. The player is in charge of twelve athletes - one for each event - and must progress through various competitions before eventually reaching Olympic qualification and competing through the heats to the finals of the various events.
· In Olympic mode the player has the ability to improve their athletes' physical build and mental demeanor resulting in improved performance. Stamina, strength, skill and morale can all be increased in the Virtual Gym, which changes your athletes' physical appearance.
· Unique athlete models for each of the 32 countries in the game.
Number of Disks: 1
Number of blocks used on Memory card per save: 5
Maximum number of Players (without a multi-tap): 2
Multi-tap compatible (max players): Yes (8)
Link-cable compatible (max players): No
Split screen multi-player option (max players): Yes (2)
Other accessories: None
Dual Shock Pad Digital Button compatible: Yes
Dual Shock Pad Analog Stick compatible: No
Dual Shock Pad Vibration compatible: No