The arrival of at least one unlicensed athletics game should come as no surprise given this summer's Olympic Games. You can rest easy, predictability fans: that game is here. And it's half-decent.
Not only does Summer Athletics have fewer events than the official Beijing 2008 game (26 compared to Beijing's 36) they're also not quite as diverse, covering seven basic categories: running, jumping, cycling, throwing, swimming, diving and archery. Anyone hoping for the sort of judo, canoeing, weightlifting and gymnastics action featured in the official game may as well weep uncontrollably in a corner because you won't find it here.
Not to worry though: in a game like this the proof is always in the controls. Summer Athletics is a bit of a mixed bag in this category, but for the most part its controls are a success.
Power is built in most events by either waggling the right analogue stick left and right or turning it quickly in a circular motion, depending on the action being performed.
Some events (such as the long jump and hammer throw) feature a momentum system where you have to start slow and pick up speed in order to reach maximum power. Actions (jumping, throwing and the like) are then performed with the left trigger. It's a nice system... as long as you're not among the 13 per cent of the population who are left-handed.
Left all alone
See, there are no options to change the control set-up, and when you're waggling the right stick and pressing LT, you can only really waggle with your right hand, putting southpaw sporty types at a disadvantage.
Assuming you're a righty, Summer Athletics is probably worth a rental at best.
It's not a terrible game, not by any means: what's there is enjoyable. The problem is that what's there isn't enough. Some events are just variations of other ones (100m, 200m and 400m, for example) and while the vast majority are fun, there are one or two exceptions that are either dull (the painfully long 1,500m) or have bad controls (the 100m freestyle swimming has you rotating both sticks in a weird, non-symmetrical way).
Add to that the fact that the career mode only consists of three tournaments and the complete lack of Xbox Live support and you've got a game that only has a lifespan in local multiplayer.
Summer Athletics gets off to a good start with a generally competent control system. It's a shame that its lack of features means that it can't quite go the distance, and ultimately ends up coughing, wheezing and spluttering after just four or five hours of gameplay.
Multiplayer's fun for a few hours but that's it
- Good controls for the most part
- The graphics are solid and smooth
- It's fun in multiplayer
- No online support whatsoever
- Single-player gets dull quickly