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Torino 2006

Video games based on the Olympics have traditionally been pretty sucky, so I expected very little from Torino 2006. It's essentially a bunch of mini games that are sports related. I think when I was a kid there was a company called Epyx that made a decent summer games. Torino 2006 is fairly standard fare for a genre that is more likely to be collected as a souvenier rather than be played.

Score = 2.5 our of 5

Given the high quality of racing and snowboarding genres one would think that a good winter olympic games game. Apply the knowledge obtained by developing a racing game to the luge and that of developing a snowboarding game to skiing and things should look and feel good.

The speed skating mechanics are pretty good down - the player mashes alternate buttons to generate enough speed to be maintained by a rhythmical, consistent tapping of the two buttons. This imitates the motion of the left and right leg and is one of the only control systems that has an actual feel to it. Timing the presses is required for straightways and curves. You'll need long strides to gain speed on the straightways and short strides in the corner. You can sense when you're getting out of synch (ignore the on screen bars as they appear to have nothing to do with your timing) and do the right thing to get back on track.

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Not only are there very few events, but some of them are repeated. Cross-country skiing is included in no less than three different events including the Nordic and Biathlon. There's not much difference between bobsled and luge, only that in bobsled you can move your men left or right, neither of which really matters. In both events you shoot yourself off like a plunger hitting a pinball. Press the button at the appropriate time to generate the most power and your sled will snake its way through icy channels. The analog stick allows you to move to the right or left to avoid hitting the walls. Controls are sluggish at first, but then as your sled or luge speeds up it becomes more responsive.

Alpine skiing is just boring. There's nothing nearly as exciting as gameplay in Amped. It's just move the joystick back and forth, sometimes crouching and sometimes carving. There's no sense of speed and every run is monotonous. Ski jumping takes a little getting used to. You have to balance on your way down the ramp, then jump, then balance in the air, and then land. It'll take 5 runs to get good enough to land. Then it'll be fun for 10 runs until you can just do it perfectly every time. And then it's no more fun. Cross country skiing relies on a stamina meter so you can balance speed with stamina. Push x to build the bar up and then slow down pushing x to settle in just below the start of stamina loss. After a few races this is pretty monotonous too.

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It'll be just about impossible to stay focused long enough to win a 9 or 15 event competition and there are no medal ceremonies after the single competitions. Come to think of it, there's no opening or closing ceremonies either. And the commentary is barely passable - whatever good lines there are get repeated over and over again until they are stale. That also means that the bad lines get repeated as well. My favorite is when one announces says something and the other repeats it.

The only way I could see liking this game is if you're a Winter Olympics fan. It might have some value as a collector's item.

Published by 2K Sports http://www.2ksports.com

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