Speeding down icy slopes, skating across tracks of frozen water, racing on your back at a hundred kilometres an hour with nothing between you and solid snow but an inch of steel... Gotta love games released over summer.
With this year’s Olympic Winter Games comes the almost obligatory game based on the event. I admit I was sceptical; considering this is without snowboards, how much fun could it really be? Well, before I could say “super-G alpine skiing” it became apparent how much fun it is. With a learning curve that’s virtually non-existent, Torino 2006 makes for some instant fun and friendly competition, with controls being an easy mix of button presses and keeping your character balanced. There are 15 events to compete in, including the luge, slaloms, ice skating and other traditional events, and playing through an entire competition can easily take an hour off your life. But that’s not really a bad thing – always seeing your chosen athlete on top of the winners’ podium is the greatest reward of all, right?
Luckily, this isn’t all that Torino 2006 has to offer. A small number of challenges are available to complete, from winning gold in every event to breaking speed records, and there’s also a high score table to keep track of who’s the greatest in whichever event. This is handy in multiplayer challenges, because, as every gamer knows, breaking a world record is all well and good, but breaking your best friend’s record is an earth-shattering event filled with much laughter, mockery and finger pointing. This game has all the hallmarks of a standard mini-game compilation, such as playing through every event or mastering a certain course, with other little features thrown in for good measure. Cinematic views of each event’s location, the cheering of the crowds, the commentary, instant replays and the medal ceremony itself are nice touches that will give any gamer the impression of what it could be like to be an Olympic athlete. Nevertheless, sitting in front of a television set handling a bunch of microchips in a plastic mould demands its own amount of concentration, dexterity and patience. This compilation is simple and playable, showcasing events like ice skating and alpine racing that aren’t already available in the video game market, and it also has that “I’ll just give it one more go” factor.
However, that’s also where this game falls short – it can get monotonous pretty quickly. Unless you’re either passionate about the Winter Games or just completely nuts about sports in general, you might find it difficult to keep this game going for more than a few hours. Yes, breaking records is fun, but once you’ve become the world’s greatest athlete on ice, then what? Not even the feeling you get from ridiculing every challenger’s constant losing will linger for too long. But in the end, this game was never meant to be played for hours on end by individuals. It fulfils the multiplayer mini-game requirements and does so with simplicity and a quick dose of fun in mind. If you’re looking for a party game that’s only slightly of the more serious variety, Torino 2006 will fit the bill nicely.