"The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle."
-Baron Pierre de Couberton
Founder of Modern Olympism
The Olympic Movement is symbolized by five interlaced rings, which represent the five continents of the world. The aim of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a better world by educating young people through sports that are practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit.
The Olympic Games are a magical time of the year in the sporting world. The best of the best from all around the globe come together in the spirit of peaceful competition, friendship, and fair play. In one of the best simulations of the Olympic games I’ve seen in a pretty good while, "Athens 2004" puts you in the Olympic arena up against the world’s top athletes, everyone carrying the hope, pride, and aspirations of their native countries.
So what makes this game stand out from the rest? For starters, it’s beautifully captured, at least on the PC version of the game. It’s all there: The larger than life stadium complexes, the millions and millions of fans from all parts of the world taking up every seat in the house, the random array of camera flashes causing the entire arena to light up and sparkle, and a vast, diverse field of contestants, all sporting their nations colors and insignias. When you set foot in the arena, you know you’re in the spotlight of one of the world’s grandest stages.
Athens 2004 succeeds where other titles of this genre have failed in the past because of such careful attention that’s been paid to detail and in doing so has captured that special "aura" that encompasses the Olympic games.
The hype and sound of the Olympics is a fantastic thing and Athens 2004 does not disappoint as it boasts that feature well. There’s enthusiasm in every crowd cheer or chant and the "event announcers" commentary masterfully plays off those emotions just like the real life counterparts. From the time you take the field, the awe-inspiring "silence" that falls over the audience before the start of an event and the climatic celebration that comes with the thrill of victory tells you that all eyes and hopes are on you to perform. You feel like an entertainer. You want to entertain them.
You want nothing less than the victory so you can hear them shout for you at the top of their lungs and listen to the announcers brag about your phenomenal performance. And of course, there is no greater hype one can experience during the Olympics than the one that comes after setting a new world record.
In this game, there is no doubt at least one event for everyone to enjoy. All of the traditional events like the meter dash, hurdles, long jump, high jump, pole vault, discus and javelin throw, shot put, skeet shooting, and swimming have all been revamped to simulate a more realistic experience. There are even a few events not often seen in past games of this genre like power lifting, otherwise known as the Men’s Clean and Jerk event, and the Women’s Individual 70m, and an archery event requiring lots of concentration and great precision. Every event is a unique and fun experience that leaves you wanting for more.
You can choose to play all the events in an individual "exhibition" type mode or if you’re ready to take in the full experience, take on the various aspects of the O-games through "Competition Mode."
Choose from the Decathlon, an all Men’s competition event that spans over two days, the Heptathlon, which is the Women’s version of the Decathlon, the Athletics competition which is a series of running, jumping, and throwing events held over a numerous amount of days, Aquatics which consists of backstroke, freestyle, breaststroke, and butterfly swimming events, or the grandest of all the modes, "Champion," encompassing every Olympic event, both men and women, featured in "Athens 2004" that spans over a numerous period of days in a pre-determined order within various Olympic venues.
The real achievement of Athens 2004 is without a doubt the control feature. You don’t have to go out and buy yourself a fancy new "turbo" joystick, run yourself to breathless on a video "floor pad," or even beat your keyboard to death to win events. Every event in the entire game is played on roughly three to four keys. The best part is that the "meter building" events are not totally based off how fast you mash your buttons but more so the "rhythm" of your fingers.
Once you master this new technique, you’ll find winning those former "button-mashing-frenzy" events a synch to compete in. More importantly, this new easy-to-use and user friendly control format puts everyone on a level playing field when it comes to multiplayer competition.
Even those inexperienced gamers that seem to be "mechanically challenged" could potentially do well in most of the events with little or no practice making this the perfect game for family time and entertainment.
We got skeet shooting for Dad, women’s archery for Mom, the 100m breast stroke for little sister, and power lifting for big brother. What more could you ask for?
The bottom line is if you’re a big fan of the Olympic games, you’ll get no closer to the real thing than "Athens 2004." This game clearly raises the bar for this particularly genre and probably won’t get the proper credit it truly deserves. None the less, "Athens 2004" brings home "the gold" here at GiN with a worthy 4 + gems.