Compete in the Games yourself 0
"London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games." (HO)
It's the halfway point of the Games of the XXX Olympiad - that's London 2012 to its friends - and maybe you're getting a bit tired of watching the endless coverage of the Olympics on TV and online.
Or maybe you're disappointed that your country isn't bringing home as much medal hardware as you'd hoped.
It can be tough to watch other people strive for greatness while you passively sit and twiddle your thumbs.
So why not put those thumbs to better use and check out one of the official London 2012 video games?
Here's why not: With nearly 30 Olympic events to draw from, most with multiple disciplines, you'd think the Olympics would be fertile ground for video games.
But the reality is video games based on the Olympics are traditionally kind of crappy.
Do any of 2012's competitors manage to reach the podium?
London 2012 The Official Mini-Game
(PC and Mac; free at miniclip.com)
The micro-maestros and Miniclip have put together this sample platter events, which essentially serves as enticement for people to pick up Sega's full meal deal version. These super-simple mini-games can be played in your web browser, and run the gamut from skeet shooting and archery to swimming and even table tennis.
It's a fun diversion for a few minutes, although Canada is missing from the roster of countries you can choose from, and only male athlete avatars are available. What the heck?
It's simple, fleeting fun ‹ I enjoyed the archery and (oddly difficult) table tennis events the most ‹ but it really is an interactive advertisement for its big brother.
Final standing: Not on the podium.
London 2012 - The Official Video Game of the Olympic Games
(Xbox 360, PS3 and PC; $49.99)
Sega's official game of the games has more than 40 events, and unlike some of the old-school sports games of years gone by, it doesn't always require hammering on a pair of buttons to run, swim and cycle, as the action generally emphasizes rhythm and timing over reflexes.
Visually it's a pretty nice-looking affair, and the commentary by the BBC's Seth Bennett and former athlete Allison Curbishley adds a degree of drama.
There's support for both Kinect (Xbox 360) and PlayStation Move (PS3) in some events, although neither adds anything too significant.
An Olympics-crazed household will enjoy it, but the rest of us can sprint on by.
Final standing: Bronze medal
London 2012 - Official Mobile Game
(iOS and Android devices; 99 cents)
With its focus on fair play and amateur athletics, you'd think a video game based on the Olympics would avoid the trap of the ³pay to win² formula, but in this case you'd be wrong.
This shoddy collection of touchscreen minigames commits two vile sins: the games themselves (which include trap shooting, kayaking, hurdles and more) are difficult to control and not fun to play, and the game tries to get you to spend real-world money on upgrades that can improve your performance.
It's ugly, kludgy and a waste of a buck.
Final standing: Disqualified for doping.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
(Wii and Nintendo 3DS; $49.99/$39.99)
In the spirit of Olympic cooperation and competition, longtime rivals Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog have once again come together to compete in this wide-ranging mix of pseudo-sport events. The Wii and 3DS versions are different from each other, but both provide the required measures of cuteness, accessibility (the events are super-short, often picking up at the tail-end of the competition) and fun.
A lot of the events don't necessarily have a lot to do with how the real-world Olympics work, but they're there in spirit. And if Mario and Sonic can get along, surely we all can too.
Final standing: Silver medal.