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This looks quite nice, but is an arcade game that seemingly skimps on the reality inherit in other platforms while still providing a solid gaming experience. It is mostly reflexive, with nice on-screen prompts for learning how to control contestants in the events, and while the action is smooth, this is a game that will leave some players a little cold. It looks nice, and plays well, but when you see the package (which states “Let the Games Begin”), it seems to be banking upon the Olympic fervor while supplying an arcade experience.
This is a game whose flaws catch up with its good points, inherently canceling each other out, yielding an average game. It’s definitely not worth buying, considering what’s coming up on the gaming horizon, but you might consider renting it if you find that you’ve got nothing to play (or you just want to see what Curling is all about). There’s fun in this game, if you can ignore all the annoyances.
With the excitement of the Olympics upon us, games like ESPN International Winter Sports 2002 could really be another way to enjoy it. The only problem is finding a quality title can be a difficult endeavor. This attempt to recreate various Olympic events on one game achieved one goal of fitting ten events in, but the gameplay suffered dramatically. Even the graphics and sound capabilities left a great deal of room for improvements, showing that more time could have been spent there too. There are some fans of the old Track and Field games however, who may enjoy that gameplay structure and this game would fall in that genre. If that doesn’t impress you however, you may want to shop around and see what else is available.
Winter Sports 2002 features a medley of gameplay modes, but unfortunately not all of them are fun. Everyone will have a favorite, but the bobsledding and downhill skiing events are particularly boring, lacking the thrill and speed associated with them. The most fun I had was usually in figure skating and the halfpipe as they required a good amount of skill and dexterity. Playing single-player gets old fast, though. I had to call IGN Overlord Peer Schneider over for a round of curling to break up the single-player monotony. Eventually we ended up gravitating to a few other multiplayer sports, and this is really the biggest appeal of the game. You can get a group of friends together and enjoy the various sports. Most of this can be accomplished in a night or two. If you really want to hone in on your skills, earn some gold medals, and post your scores on Konami's website then the single-player experience may appeal to you.
The Video Game Critic
You might expect Winter Sports 2002 to be a good multiplayer title, but that's not the case due to its learning curve. Even the simpler events typically require several attempts before you really get the hang of them. There is however one event that really stands out above the rest, and that's bobsled. When played solo, you navigate a rollercoaster-like pipe complete with speed boost strips! In two-player mode the game is played on a split-screen with both players racing on the same track! It's not realistic at all, but it's a blast to jockey with a friend at high speeds. Winter Sports 2002 is a quirky title. The menu screens feature disco music and the A button is referred to as the "decide" button. The game could definitely be more playable, but there's something to be said for its short events and inviting scenery.
It is hard to recommend ESPN Winter Sports 2002, when an age old Saturn game has it beat in most areas. There are better examples of this type of game, but not on the Gamecube. The Internet ranking system is a good idea, but it's appeal will not extend the single player game for too long. However, as a Gamecube game to bring out when some friends come round, it will deliver the usual blend of competition, frustration and also hilarity when a skier falls off the end of the ski ramp without jumping. The original control ideas could have added to the experience, but instead will just serve to confound the player who is expecting something simpler. With some extra effort and a four player mode, this would have been a better value package, but as it stands, it does not make the grade.