Virtua Athlete 2000
Being a big fan of Sega's DecAthlete on the Saturn, I was happy to hear of Agetec's last-minute decision to localize Virtua Athlete. However, when I'd finished all seven events 20 minutes later, my excitement fizzled. Compared to the amount of events in other upcoming sports titles, there's just no excuse to skimp like this. The control is the same as just about any other track & field title out there, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the difficulty level in Virtua Athlete is set so high that it's nigh impossible to reach the podium in most events. Playing against three friends helps a bit, but it's still frustrating that any character you choose only has a decent chance at winning in two events at most. It saps the fun right out of the game. VA does have a few redeeming qualities, the most obvious being a great player edit mode. You choose a nationality, number, name, favorite sport and dress your creation right down to the color of his socks (sorry, no women in the game). Still, DecAthlete's competitors had way more character--everyone in this game feels pretty bland and lifeless. The other cool feature is the ability to upload your records to the Internet and see how you rank. It's unfortunate that Virtua Athlete doesn't have some more substance. As it stands, this game is only a short diversion, and even then you'll wish there was more to the experience. Rent this one before you think about buying it.
Sporting event video games like this are usually pretty simple when it comes to gameplay, but this one is particularly shallow. To begin with, it only has seven events. If each provided a lot of variety, it might be just enough, but most are so similar in control and timing that it often feels like the same thing over and over. It's a bit of a double-edged sword because if there were enough different events, I would probably dig the simple controls, but as is I just came away from each tournament wanting more variety. I can't see anyone buying this title and being happy unless they wanted a super-simple party game--rent it for that.
Remember DecAthlete on the Saturn? This game is just about the same, except with three fewer events. Why couldn't they have taken DecAthlete and added more events? With the Olympics fresh in everyone's mind, including more events would've made the game last a lot longer. Graphically, the game is somewhere between reality and the brightly colored arcade graphics of DecAthlete. I love the "tap the buttons as fast as you can to gather power" game-play--it reminds me of the days I spent playing Track & Field II on the NES--but as it stands, this one's only a possible rental; there isn't enough here to really sink your teeth into.