Better make sure your controller has life insurance - Review By Mad Carl
The Olympics, much like the Super Bowl, are one of those magical moments in sports that get even non-sports nuts like myself interested. On many occasions, the Olympics are the only time you will get the chance to see certain unique sporting events, as you don't exactly see the triple jump every Sunday morning on Wide World of Sports. Now, I have always been more of a winter Olympics man, myself. I love the bobsled and hockey events. Still, I enjoy watching the summer Olympics every now and again.
Thus, I was excited by the idea of reviewing Attention to Detail's new Olympics title, Sydney 2000, which is touted as the official video game of the 2000 Summer Olympics. Sure, it is mostly a compilation of track and field events, ignoring sports like baseball and basketball. But that's fine. If I want a basketball game, I'll buy a game devoted to that sport. Of course, this logic has proven itself to be inherently broken. I wanted an Olympics game and I ended up with Sydney 2000. Ugh. I hated this game so much I put off writing the review for two days. It kept sitting there, taunting me, calling me names and telling me that at some point I would not only have to spend more time with it to check facts, but I would have to focus myself into writing a few pages about it. I quickly scanned the credits to search for any of my archenemies, wondering if there was some psychopath out there who had created this damn thing just as a personal attack on me. I couldn't identify anyone in there, so I suspect pseudonyms may be in use.
Come now, on a journey through the "game" that is Sydney 2000. I played it so you don't have to.
There's didgeridoo music in the main menu screens. That should really be enough for anybody. In case you're not familiar with this particular obscurity, the didgeridoo is an ancient aboriginal instrument that has a hypnotic sound and a deep resonance that will both relax and hypnotize you if played by a master. I have a CD of didgeridoo music that is great to have playing when I first stumble into the office in the morning and the coffee has yet to take effect. I must give credit to any game that includes a didgeridoo in any piece of its score, but using this way cool instrument in the opening screens of your game -- well, that's a bonus point right out of the gate.
The sense of height is pretty good -- the framerate isn't.
I must also praise the team behind Sydney 2000. A friend of mine in the video game industry has long told horror stories of what he calls "debt reduction projects". This is the kind of game (most often a movie license) that is cranked out by a small team (usually a quarter the size that is needed) in a short amount of time (also about a quarter of what is needed) in the hopes of turning a quick and dirty profit (see the majority of stuff Disney Interactive or Acclaim have produced since their inceptions). For Attention to Detail and Eidos, I highly suspect that Sydney 2000 is just such a game. I congratulate the men and women in the trenches of this game's development for creating a somewhat viable piece of software in the time allotted. Of course, should I be wrong and discover that this project was in development for longer than a week and a half, I will be sorely disappointed in the talents of all involved.
About the only "real" good thing I can say about Sydney 2000 is that multiplayer is a nice addition to the proceedings. It will give you and your friends something to focus your anger on, which is always useful in these days of high stress work environments. Unfortunately, that's assuming you can even get multiplayer started in the first place. You see, for some odd reason you have to make a save file in single player Olympics mode in order to play multiplayer -- a stupid extra step that belongs in The Bad, but got jammed here since we're already talking multiplayer.
Your enjoyment of multiplayer also assumes you'll have any friends left after you get them to play this with you. Perhaps the nicest thing about multiplayer is that it doesn't do the old split-screen deal where framerates goes to hell. The multiplayer framerate is pretty consistant with that of the single player game: not very good, but at least not any slower.
We think that's supposed to be sand.
The final Good note: I have a lovely Olympics-themed coaster to add to my collection.
Where do I start? If I thought I could still collect a paycheck for just sending in the words "creative abortion", then I would do just that. Since I have to actually review this nightmare, let's just go with the first thing that hit me and move on from there. Load times are, quite bluntly, a bitch. I half suspected something to be wrong with my Dreamcast when Sydney 2000 load times stretched over the thirty-second mark. But after a quick check, I discovered that every other game in my collection works just fine. Besides, those of you who know of the events surrounding my Spirit of Speed review (my Dreamcast committed suicide), know that my new unit is less than three months old and should be defect free. So, I got to sit there and watch a glowing red bar, superimposed over a group of ugly-as-hell polygonal models for a very, very long time. Every time I was sent to a load screen it was like I was being punished for hating Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Next: More Bad and The Final Word