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Review by: Jonathan Houghton
Published: September 29, 2000
Throughout the history of electronic entertainment, many sports have successfully been emulated on the screens of gaming enthusiasts. From the most popular sports like Football, Basketball and Baseball, to those with less of a following like Martial Arts, Boxing, and Hunting. Every four years, seemingly in shadow to the political races in the United States, the world holds a set of events derived from ancient days, known worldwide as the Olympics, where the best athletes of each generation come together in a major world city to compete for coveted medals, distributing joy and sorrow to many nations with a slip of a velvet ribbon and metallic disc over necks bent in reverent pride. It has been almost time out of mind since this venerable conglomeration of athleticism received an update from the developers in our industry, but now ATD software is bringing the world games back to PCs everywhere with an adaptation of the Olympic games being held in Australia entitled Sydney 2000.
In the Olympics of today, the number of events are difficult to count, I even noticed one in particular called the, “Woman’s Trampoline Final.” The Olympics contain everything from fencing to Tae Kwon Do (which only became an official Olympic sport this year), making coverage of every single competition a near impossibility. Many of the more intricate competitions such as volleyball, gymnastics, and water polo have enough in the way of separate content that each could easily have a game in and of themselves. With this in mind, ATD decided to focus on the most historically famous or well-known events. Sydney 2000 has 12 sports total in which players can compete, including: kayaking, weight lifting, diving, swimming, shooting, the hammer, javelin, triple jump, hurdles, cycling, sprinting and the high jump.
Sydney 2000 has several different styles of play to suit a variety of gamers. Arcade mode will give competitors a taste of what each event is like without really competing. Olympic mode is somewhat more complex, requiring players to pick an event and go through it as though actually training for the real thing. Heading to the official competition is simply impossible until you run your virtual athlete through rigorous training designed to increase your capabilities to the point where you can actually compete against the CPU pros. To do this, you have over 20 training exercises you can run through that vary depending on the event your sportsman specializes in. For example, sit-ups and stretching might be the key for a Sprinter, whereas bench pressing and the treadmill may be just the thing for someone running the Kayak slalom. There are three stages for each training event and to obtain the benefits of training you must not only meet the in-session requirements, but you must also participate in a qualifier to permanently add your new statistics. Being that your state of mind is often a key to victory, one of the interesting statistics you can increase by doing well in the qualifiers is Morale. Though it might seem pointless, akin to the Luck statistic in an RPG, morale is of the utmost importance. If your character thinks hard about losing, then he or she will probably find a way to make it happen, whereas a positive attitude is always a push in the right direction. Once you have a well-trained character, you can move on to the open trials for the games themselves. Upon successfully pounding the keys to the tune of victory in the trials, you will be able to take on the actual Olympic competition.
Each event has a different style of attack with the keyboard, or gamepad, most of which require only three keys/buttons. Many events will require players to tap the arrow keys repeatedly to build up a power bar, and then hit the ‘action key’ at an appropriate moment. For those with superb dexterity in their digits, this will have the effect of causing your athlete to run/jump/swim/swing to victory, providing you can achieve a proper rhythm in the key tapping. A good example of the differing control patterns needed for each sport is two of the unique events among the 12, Kayaking and Skeet Shooting. To navigate the manmade streams of the Kayak K1 Slalom, you must use the arrow keys to paddle forwards, backwards, and to each side. On the river you will see two types of gates to navigate; green gates which must be taken downstream, and red gates which you must cross while going upstream, all while paying close attention to the current in the river. Skeet shooting requires you to line up the gun sights with the skeets and hit the fire button at the right moment which is easy on the first round, but becomes more difficult the second time when you must hit the targets in a specific order for the round to count.
Each event you participate in with the Olympic and Arcade modes earns you a certain amount of points for your team, and in the end, the team with the most points and medals will obviously be the proud winners. By default, you will only see your own events taking place, though if you wish to watch the Olympics C-SPAN style, you can enable an option that will play through the rounds of all other contestants for your visual consumption. For players wanting a bit of practice in each of the events, to attempt mastery over the control combinations needed to win, a ‘Coaching mode’ has been included wherein you can repeat each event to your hearts content without any tallied score or fear of failure. Multiplayer is also available in a head-to-head competitive mode with two players taking turns at each event using different input devices such as the keyboard and a gamepad.
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