x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

On your mark, get set, go: Olympic Games video games

With the Olympic Games around the corner, we try out a few of the 18 events on this motion sensor-friendly sporting compilation.

There are 18 different sports to choose from in Summer Stars 2012.
There are 18 different sports to choose from in Summer Stars 2012.

Summer Stars 2012

Deep Silver

PS3 Move, Xbox360 Kinect, Wii


Those who have been paying any attention to the forthcoming Olympics might have noticed the organisers are being rather fussy about who can use the London 2012 name (basically only the companies who have forked out bazillions to be an "official partner"), so it's probably important to note that while Summer Stars 2012 might have come out with impeccable timing, it's in no way connected to the competition whatsoever. Search hard and you'll find no mention of the Olympics anywhere on the packaging, and any similarity between the sports featured is purely coincidental. In fact, should at any moment during this game you imagine yourself in London sometime this July/August, it's probably best to turn it off.

With that out of the way, let's get on.

Launched across all three main consoles, including its motion-sensor add-ons, Summer Stars 2012 is a far cry from the sporting games of old, where the only exercise would be for your index and first fingers as you frantically tapped keys in an effort to overtake a blocky pixelated rendition of Carl Lewis.

There are 18 different sports featured, including swimming, archery, diving, trampolining and, of course, athletics, and if you use the motion-sensor over the gamepad option (which we recommend you do, it seems daft to come all this way only to return to button bashing), each comes with a completely different set of controls.

For the 100 metres, you crouch and then run as fast as you can on the spot (fairly predictable). For archery, you raise your left arm like you would with a bow, and release the arrow with a flick of your right. Diving involves moving your hands and feet over a changing (and increasingly complicated) series of markers within a timeframe. For fencing, unfortunately one of the worst, you trade insults with your opponent (sadly not using voice command - that doesn't work) in a way that older gamers will instantly recognise as a rather poor tribute to Monkey Island.

There are three difficulty options for each sport (and congratulations if you get past the easiest for the high jump, because we couldn't) and several playing options.

In the single-player career mode, you have two fresh-faced hopefuls you must take through the various disciplines, each coming with a few seconds of excessively cheesy "TV report" interlude (that can be skipped). There's a tournament mode, which offers a range of predefined competitions featuring a mix of events or the option to create your own. Then there's free play, in which you can pick any sport and play with up to three players split-screen.

The multiplayer option is the biggest disappointment, as it doesn't come with motion-sensor capabilities meaning you're back to those trusty buttons. This could be because the technology needed for picking out two sets of flailing limbs isn't yet with us, or simply because it's likely to lead to multiple black eyes.

While it won't blow anyone away, Summer Stars 2012 is a jolly, colourful affair that can easily while away a few hours before the arrival of the real Olympics. Whatever they might be.




Next Xbox due next year?

In a leak that has got the gaming world in a fizz, a Microsoft business document that found its way online appears to outline the long-awaited successor to the Xbox 360. According to the 56-page file, the Xbox 720 (imaginative) will be slimmer, sport a Blu-ray drive, Kinect V2 sensor with four-player tracking and improved camera, and will land some time next year with the price of US$300 (Dh1,100). It also mentions "augmented reality" glasses, much like Google's Project Glass. Exciting? Just a bit. However, before you get all giddy, it's worth noting that the leaked document apparently dates back to 2010, so much could have changed since then.


Create a mall

If you've ever wandered aimlessly through the Mall of the Emirates and thought "I could do better", a new iOS game could be just what you were looking for. Mall Stars sees you being handed the reins as a shopping centre manager who must breathe new life into a dreary mall (anyone been to Times Square Centre in Dubai?). Open up new shops, make sure they're stocked, expand your space and deal with the random needs of each shopper. It's all very cutesy and addictive. The only downside is that, given that we're somewhat spoilt in terms of mall entertainment, you might be disappointed to find it doesn't have a ski centre, aquarium, ice-skating rink, indoor skydiving centre or penguin enclosure among its options.