The official game of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, Beijing 2008 features 32 national teams in 38 events for both men and women on a varied number of disciplines, played in truthful representations of the stadiums that hosted the real Games in the summer of 2008 such as the Birds’ Nest or the Watercube.
As usual with games in this genre (some events play in a particular similar fashion to Athens 2004), button mashing and timing makes up the core of the gameplay, with some exceptions and novel ideas. In now-classic events such as sprinting running and swimming, instead of mashing the power buttons as soon as the starting pistol is heard, the player has to control a bar with the trigger buttons, where the player jumps from the blocks when it is completely filled and has to be careful not to fill the bar too soon (resulting in a false start) or too late (losing precious time). Other events also have their share of gameplay innovations in the genre, such as the Javelin, where the analogue stick is used to set the throw and accurately define the angle accurately. In the most off-beat events, diving and rings requires the player to follow the on-screen cue with the analogue pads, while others such as the the floor exercise and beam require the player to follow the button queues – there are three difficulty levels, mostly changing the looseness of the timing – in higher levels, the player will have a much harder time hitting “perfect” moves and some of them will require much faster combinations.
One of the most novel events is Judo, where the player must react quickly to the on-screen cues in order to gain advantage during the grappling phase – once there’s an opening chance for an attack, the player can press one button to initiate a throw, and if the mis-match was large enough (a “Perfect” against a “Very Good” won’t allow for an Ippon throw, and the defending player with block the attack, starting another grappling sequence). The player being thrown must bash the appropriate button to decrease the power bar to avoid being projected with his back down, which would result on an Ipponand instant defeat. While an Ippon decides the match instantly, two Waza-ari also decide, with the lowest scores (Koka and Yuko) usually deciding matches stopped by the clock. The player can also choose to do a choke or lock move, where both players must press the triggers, and unless the defending player does not break the lock in a limited time frame, he concedes an Ippon and loses the match. Table Tennis also makes an appearance, and is an event where the player must be properly placed to respond with either a well-timed normal or backspin shot, the timing defining the accuracy of the shot. Good returns fill a power bar, and once it’s filled, the player can do a particularly vicious shot that when well executed is nearly impossible to return – however, being able to return these shots becomes the essence of each set, same with doing perfect serves.
Game modes include practice, regular competition (where the player can select or deselect each event, for men and women), random events, Decathlon or Heptathlon and of course, the Olympics. While in previous games the Olympics were usually just a set of events, in Beijing 2008 they are much more complex, and feature a game where the player must complete a number of challenges each day with the difficulty level and number of necessary successes increasing progressively. While in the other modes there is a slight slowdown during the technical parts of the events, in Olympic the player must assign points to it, and trigger when required. The player also needs to assign points to other key areas, such as speed, technique or accuracy. Failing to reach the goal for the day forces the player to load the game and try again.