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Sydney 2000 Review

GAME INFO
publisher: Eidos Interactive
developer: Attention to Detail
genre: Sports

MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS
P233, 32MB RAM, 50MB HDD, 4X CD-ROM
ESRB rating: E
homepage:
www.eidosinteractive.com/games/info.html?gmid=90

release date: Aug 31, 00
» All About Sydney 2000 on ActionTrip


September 11, 2000

Sydney Olympic Games 2000 Isn't Going to Win Any Medals at ATrip!

Come Sep.15 athletes gathered from around the world, will join hands and shout joyfully in what is to be a celebration of world sports and team spirit, known as Olympic Games... OK that, and they'll be taking the last drops of their "power" cocktail prescribed by a hairy-chested, ex female javelin thrower from the former East Germany. It's all in the Olympic spirit, I guess... ...just ask Ben Johnson.

As usual, all the big competitions are indorsed by a thematic video game. It's a nice way to boost publicity, and turn even more profit on the event. First to dip through the finish line, and grab the opportunity, was the British based duo: Attention To Detail and EIDOS Interactive (handling the publishing). They've managed to acquire the International Olympic Committee License, and reserve exclusive rights to Sydney Olympics related video games distribution. I don't know if the deal includes a several future Olympic competitions, but I'm pretty sure that for now, EIDOS will be the publishing house for the Olympics-theme video games, much like EA's the main distributor of all games with the official FIFA License...

Unfortunately (for us PC gamers), SOG 2000 was primarily developed for the console... Relying on some serious market analysis (e.g. How can we get more cash dammit?!), the publishers decided to go with the console version, and just port the title over to PC later. A wise sales decision, no doubt... As for the product quality of PC version, well, that's a different matter altogether... Apart from a few Bleemed copies, SOG 2000 has to be one of the cheapest porting jobs I've ever seen! The vast array of improvements over the console version can be summed up in two words: higher resolutions! That's it! The developers (Attention To Detail --- the term stands opposite to the SOG 2000 porting job) haven't even bothered to include the mouse support. Instead, I had to navigate through the menus the ol' arrow keys style, and even "write my initials down" by choosing letters the way I used to do on coin-op arcade machines. Cheap, eh? You're damn right it is!

SOG 2000 features 12 disciplines in all, some of which I've never heard mentioned as Olympic events before loading up the game... (Skeet Shooting, a Olympic sport, give me a break!) The event list includes: 100m Sprint, 110m Hurdles, Hammer, Javelin, High Jump, Triple Jump, 100m Freestyle Swimming, Olympic Sprint Cycling, Skeet Shooting, Super Heavyweight Wight Lifting, 10m Platform Diving, and Kayak K1 Slalom. The gameplay is separated into four modes, albeit nothing out of the ordinary: Arcade (self explanatory), Olympic (resembling a simulation), Head to Head (no multiplayer, just split screen), and Coaching (practice, anybody). That's about it... from that point on, you're left with two arrow keys, and an action key to go for the world record and become a champion in every disciplines... (Who says I can't Clean and Jerk 500lbs and run 100m in 9.7 seconds at the same time?)

And if you thought that the lack of options, and the inclusion of a few obscure disciplines were the sole reasons for my frustration, you're in for a big disappointment! Playing the events in Sydney 2000 was the thing that really did it for me... Actually, my keyboard got the short end of the stick... Let me try to sum up, in a rational manner, what the SOG 2000 gameplay looks like --- bash on the arrow keys as fast as you can... If you bash hard enough you'll get enough speed/strength to hit the action key, and dip across the line, jump over a hurdle, lift a weight, etc. There are certain variations to the routine, like in Skeet Shooting --- you have to aim and shoot, without bashing on the arrow keys, or 10m Platform Diving, but that's really insignificant in comparison to the number of times you'll sadistically bang on the arrow keys. SOG 2000 is one of those games that you simply can't recommend to anyone owning PC. Man, if you feel like ruining your hardware you might as well throw your keyboard off the roof, or melt it in a microwave! At least your forearms won't hurt as much. SOG 2000 is an exercise in forearm strength and conditioning; only those who work out frequently need apply. Instead of just churning out dineros for the game, you'll probably spend an extra few bucks on a new keyboard/gamepad. Just send the bill to EIDOS... I'm sure (cough) they didn't stick a small-print disclaimer on the box, rendering them of all responsibility.

In some weird, and twisted way, drum rolling on your keyboard to achieve a new world record can at times be considered fun, but it still doesn't justify the extra expenses. In a rather bleak defense of the developers, I ended up thinking for a couple of hours on how you could run a 100m dash, without wearing and tearing your peripherials as much, but I came up with zilch! Maybe you could move your mouse right and left very fast, and achieve the same effects with less damage, although that should prove hard to do, since the game doesn't include rodent support.

On the bright side, SOG 2000 "engine" boasts solid-looking models with decent motion captured animations. The athletes consist of a modest number of polys, but the fluid movements make up for the blockiness... The in-game commentary reminds me a lot of FIFA, probably because the "lads" speak with a distinct British accent (Steve Rider, and Stewart Storey). The important thing is that the dialogue blends well with the Olympic atmosphere, and doesn't take away from the gameplay.

The game also features Virtual Gym, with 20 training events designed to increase the athlete's strength, speed, and skill levels --- a pseudo-RPG element if you will, intended to bring a bit more content into the gameplay (increase player ability through training). Sadly, the training routine is again reduced to torturing your keyboard's arrow keys, and hitting the occasional action key. So much for gameplay versatility... Your "RPG athlete" will have to go through a series of training sessions, practice events, and qualifiers before reaching the Olympic level, so get ready for some serious pounding!

Coming Into the Final Lap...

For crying out loud, there are better ways of living out the Olympics! Go buy yourself a Jersey with your country's flag on it, get a larger TV screen... Go to Sydney! Leave SOG 2000 to console gamers; let them smash their gamepads over a 100m sprint...

Hey, Bunny wanna trade your Extreme Paintbrawl 2 CD, for my copy of Sydney 2000 Games?! I'll even throw in Deer Hunter! No...? You little #$&##!!!

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4.2   Tolerable


HIGHS
Nice motion capturing, sound f/x;

LOWS
Oh my God; my keyboard's broken!

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