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Feb. 25, 2002

GW Xbox > Xbox Previews > Preview Page


ESPN International
Winter Sports





As the Winter Olympics come to a close, Konami looks to offer gamers some more snowy fun to quench the palette.

Sometimes timing can be a deciding factor as to whether or not a game will succeed or not. If a game is released at an inopportune time no one will bother looking at it. For example if a game in which you play a terrorist trying to blow up skyscrapers was released on or after September 11th, I'm willing to bet that not a whole lot of people would have cherished it. In all of Konami's years of publishing kick ass games they certainly have learned how to please the everyday gamer. Now with the Winter Olympics having recently come to a close, Konami is set to release ESPN International Winter Sports 2002 to the masses.

Track and Field games of year's past have all been about reflexes and raw ability. As soon as the gun goes off you're mashing the buttons like a chicken with its head cut off, little do you know that your buddy over there is using his auto fire feature and is torching you without mercy. Thankfully Konami is altering the gameplay a bit so that there isn't quite as much button mashing and a bit more of reflexes and timing.

Through the game you'll have the opportunity to play 10 fast paced Olympic style events. Downhill Slalom Skiing Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, Ski Jumping, Freestyle Mogul Skiing, Bobsledding, Speed Skating, Figure Skating, and the ever popularů Curling. [Hey, curling is more exciting than you think. - Ed.] All but two events, speed skating and bobsledding, leave the set mold of button mashing heaven and have a bit more style and substance than games past.

ESPN International Winter Sports 2002 will offer two distinct game modes, trial and championship mode. Trial mode lets you choose one of the events and practice them to your heart's content. When you are ready you can select your favorite country and begin playing through the circuit of events in search of the sovereignty of a gold medal.

The visuals of the game look decent enough, although it is quite apparent that the game is not an exclusive Xbox title. The polygon models exhibit smooth motions and look crisp and clean. The speed of the game will play a large part in the presentation due to some events requiring an amazing sense of speed to convey a feeling of reality. The snow effects in the game are nice and the rooster tails left by skis or skates is a welcome graphical touch.

Not a whole lot is known about the multiplayer abilities of the game, but we do know that you and a buddy will be able to go head-to-head. Whether some kind of co-op mode will be offered for bobsledding or any other team sports is unknown. Hopefully Konami will find some way to add some depth to usually bland and uniform multiplayer modes of games past.

In the end it's quite obvious that this game will appeal to a smaller niche audience than that of Konami's other offerings (such as Metal Gear Something), but if done correctly, all those people who loved the first track and field games of yore will once again have something to talk.

If you've ever wanted to live the life of an Olympian you might want to check out ESPN International Winter Sports 2002. Just picture the Winter Olympics minus Bob Costas Sarah Hughes, and judging scandals.

Nate "Gamer X" Ahearn
Silver medal - 500 meter typing slalom.

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