Review by marchmadness1012
"64 countries and 25 events. What more could a button-masher ask for?"
The track and field genre began on the PS2 with ESPN International Track & Field, a game containing ten events, without a wide range of things to do. The gameplay was the greatest part of this game, and made it worthwhile for any fan of button-mashing or track and field.
Next up in this genre is Athens 2004. I'll warn you right now, if you do not like button-mashing or track and field, then this game is not for you. This game won't do anything control-wise to make your gaming experience any better.
In this game you will find 25 events, more than double of ESPN's total. These events range from the regulars (100m dash, long jump, etc.) to the strange (archery, equestrian, etc.).
The track events in Athens 2004 are: 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 100m hurdles (women) and 110m hurdles (men). The three sprints are exactly what you'd expect, hitting X and O repeatedly, and adding in L1 for a good dip at the finish line. These lead to a lot of excitement, especially when it comes down to a gold medal or silver medal.
The 800m and 1500m runs are different that the usual though. The further you push up the right analog stick, the faster your runner goes. You can't hold it all the way up all the time, or else your runner will lose energy. These events don't have a great amount of excitement, but can be enjoyable when close.
The field events are: long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, javelin, discus, and shot put. Long and triple jump, and javelin use the regular sprinting to the line and L1 to get the desired jumping angle. High jump is the most enjoyable of the field events, as you use two buttons for each foot, pressing exactly when that foot hits the ground, and then jumping and lifting your feet over the bar. Pole vault is also fun, but gets very repetitive. Discus uses the rotating of the analog stick, and shot put uses two timed button presses. These are also fun, but not as high detailed as high jump or triple jump.
The four swimming events are: 100m freestyle, 100m backstroke, 100m breaststroke, 100m butterfly. These events are the low point of the game. They all use the exact same control method, mashing X and O and then using L1 to breathe when told. They can be fun, but a varying control system would've been better.
The four gymnastic events are: floor exercise (women), floor exercise (men), vault and the rings. These events are the best and most detailed of the game. The women's floor exercise uses a Dance Dance Revolution style arrow-system. The vault uses a line of random buttons that must be pressed quickly to make a harder routine. The rings and the men's floor exercise have some of the best controls in the game, and rely on speed and timing.
The equestrian event is immensely difficult. Trying to make your horse go in the right direction and get the right timing on the jump is the hardest thing to do in the game, but a good challenge is needed. The archery, skeet shooting, and weightlifting events work with timed button presses, and are all very difficult to master.
The events are varied quite well, and while some controls are basically mashing, others stray from that system, and are fun for the most part.
The feel of this game is quite Olympic-like, but this could've been improved on to make you feel like you're actually in the Olympics. This could've been done with more interactive crowd, and better commentary.
The graphics are fine, the characters look unique from others in events. The places in which the events take place look good, but a little more detail could've been added.
The sound is where this game falls flat. The music is annoying and repetitive, but thankfully is only found in the menus. Commentary is lacking, but it isn't really necessary when you're with a bunch of friends.
There's a few modes of play, from a few events (decathlon, aquatics, etc.) to a full Olympics. There's also a single event practice mode and a challenge mode. There's also 64 countries to choose from for your athletes nationality. There is a noticeable omission of any kind of story mode and a create-an-athlete mode, maybe next time.
If you want to play this game to it's full potential, grab a few friends who love sports. This is one of the best multiplayer sports experiences out there. What's more fun than coming down to the dip at the line in the 100m against your friend?
The bottom line is, if you like track and field games, button-mashers, or a great multiplayer game, then pick up Athens 2004.
Gameplay - 9.5/10
The high point of the game, button-mashing mixed in with some more detailed control make for lots of fun.
Graphics - 8.5/10
Characters and stadiums look great, but could've used more detail.
Sound - 6.8/10
The low point of the game, annoying music and very little commentary to be found.
Presentation - 8.7/10
Gives a fine Olympic feel, and the menus look great.
Lasting Appeal - 9.5/10
If you have a group of friends that like this, then it never gets old. You'll rarely find someone who always wins at a certain event, and this leads for lots of replay value.
Overall - 9/10
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/04
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