Full Review: We are the champions?we are the champions?of the world.
Every four years the world's best athletes gather in one place to determine just who is the best of the best of the best. No, I'm not talking about Mike Tyson's latest boxing comeback. I'm talking about the summer Olympics. In commemoration of this year's return of the games to their modern birthplace, 989 Sports has brought us Athens 2004, a celebration of physical perfection and unmatched endurance.
A collection of 25 of the events that are trademarks of the Olympiad, Athens 2004 actually manages to capture some of the feel of the games. Let me rephrase that; you need to have Olympic levels of stamina in order to play this game for more than 5 minutes at a time. If you aren't catching the drift of what I am saying, think back to playing Track & Field on the old 8-bit NES. Remember thumping on the A button over and over and over again? There are a lot of events that utilize a similar function. That isn't to say that the game gets repetitive, please don't think that is where I'm going with this. All I'm trying to say is that you need to spend a lot of time training in order to compete in the game's champion mode wherein you play all 25 events in succession.
If you aren't quite up to the champion challenge (I know I'm still not there), Athens 2004 sports several other gameplay modes. Have a dance mat sitting around? Try out party mode where you can play through the entire game using said peripheral. Need a quick training session? Jump into practice mode where your mediocre performance won't be recorded for posterity. Have some friends? Compete against three of them in Single Event mode. Basically, Athens 2004 has a level of competition that is just right for every possible circumstance.
I know that I brought up Athens 2004's throwback to the gaming days of yore by drawing upon the button thumping of racing games gone by. However, Athens 2004 does take this gameplay in a slightly different direction. Specifically, there is no event that relies solely upon the speed of your fingers. In fact, even sprints incorporate the L1 trigger to get a quick jump off of the blocks and to lunge at the finish line. It is this incorporation of the "non-traditional" racing elements that actually turns Athens 2004 into something more than just a game. Kudos to Eurocom for having the foresight to add a little bit more to the mix.
Of course, Athens 2004 does cover more than just footraces and it is in this variety of events that Athens 2004 has its real appeal. Many of the gymnastic events turn to various types of rhythm based gameplay, several of the Athletics events require the mastery of both speedy fingers and button timing, and the archery and shooting events require a certain amount of accuracy for success. What does this mean to you in the long run? It means that, like with the gameplay modes, there is an event for every mood.
Athens 2004 goes a long way where it counts: In the gameplay. With a game like Athens 2004, that is really all that matters. I suppose that is why it is no surprise that neither the graphics nor the sound left any real impression with me. They were competent at all times but there is really little else to say about them except that I never really felt any sense of speed with any of the racing events. With everything that this game covers, that is perhaps my only complaint.