With the usual, less than perfect weather forecasts for summer looming over our heads for the next who knows how many years, all might not be lost with the new title from 49Games available on the Xbox 360; Summer Athletics 2009. From the track to the swimming pool, there are several different avenues of activity to pursue as you save yourself the effort of exertion from athletics, and simply manoeuvre your avatar to victory through the usual Xbox controls.
Summer Athletics 2009 comprises of 26 overall events, split into seven different categories; running, jumping, swimming, throwing, cycling, archery and high diving. Each of the seven events is split into different activities to make up the 26 event total, for example the jumping activity contains such events as the triple jump and pole vault. It’s a shame there isn’t a bit more variation in the initial seven categories, as there doesn’t seem to be anything that hasn’t already been included in previous titles within this genre.
Despite the nature of this game suiting a multiplayer setting, Summer Athletics 2009 also comes complete with a single-player career mode, in which you take your super-athlete from zero to hero through a series of different competitions. There’s an impressive level of customisation options available when creating your own athlete, but unfortunately the detail seems somewhat lost as soon as they’re thrown into an event, when inevitably all the models will bear much the same resemblance.
A multiplayer mode allows you to compete with up to three others of your nearest and dearest, introducing a more interesting element to the title than the career mode promises to offer. Unfortunately there are no online leader boards for your Xbox Live account to inspire you to work toward; the only reward seems to be an incredibly disappointing fireworks display during the podium sequence upon success.
Instructions for events are clear but likely to send you to sleep before each event as they pour onto the screen. As most of the games themselves have relatively simple control this excessive instruction seems unnecessary at best.
One thing that should have been in Summer Athletics 2009’s favour is that the creators have moved away from the extensive two-button mashing that previous athletics games were characterised by. However, don’t think you’ve escaped the repetitive strain injury that easily, because they’ve replaced it with what can only be described as analog-stick wiggling. As an example, in the running event to build up your speed you must jiggle the right stick back and forth as fast as is humanly possible. Not exactly the most thrilling and hard to master control set ever launched with a game.
Disappointing graphics and gameplay will almost certainly have us looking out of our windows with longing, hoping to enjoy the real summer rather than splashing our hard earned cash on Summer Athletics 2009.