Creating a game to simulate the Olympics experience seems like a great idea. You have a plethora of sports to choose from and if made right a game putting you in the shoes (or skates, skis or other various footwear) could be a fairly deep experience. For example you could create your Olympian and work your way up from training to qualifying for the national team of your choice to finally the main event, going for gold. Sadly Vancouver 2010 falls well short of any sense of depth and offers up a somewhat limited version of the events seen at the Winter Olympics.
What Vancouver 2010 does give you is 14 events in which to attempt to achieve your ultimate goal, a gold medal. Although 14 events does sound like a fair assortment of different sports to play, when you look at what is included it is a bit deceiving. What really is included is alpine skiing, sledding, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, ski jumping and speed skating. Within each of these sports there is very little variation as for example giant slalom and men's downhill skiing will seem basically the same. When you take a look at two-man bobsleigh and skeleton, they are essentially the same event with only a different model running down the track. The visuals in this game are fairly good and each race is filled with vivid colours. Every ski events is raced in bright sunny weather so any ideas of a dynamic weather system are clearly nonexistent. Suffice to say it is a pretty game to look at even though the rest of the experience is rather simplistic.
Vancouver 2010 also falters in its gameplay. Most of the events are nothing more than steering left or right and pressing a button or two to speed up or simulate some other action. Playing many of these different events will remind you of those free flash games you can play on the web. Ostensibly that is what many of the events are, with a visual upgrade and a bit more polish. What also works against Vancouver 2010 is the fact it is almost a direct port of the console version. The game would likely be more of an experience using a game controller, but simply pressing A and D to turn left and right on a keyboard is not much fun. Furthermore the pc version still has all the controls labelled as if it was the 360 version. On the menu screens "accept" and "back" are still marked with a green 'A' or red "B' as per a 360 controller. These types of details do not detract from the actual game, but shows that a lack of effort was put into the porting of the game from one system to the next. Even if these controls were left under the assumption players would be using a 360 controller on their pc, no efforts were made to adapt the controls for the uniqueness of a keyboard and mouse.
In terms of each event, you can choose to run through a tutorial that explains how to play the event, but for most of these sports it is the same few buttons for each event. When you are competing you go up against only four other countries, so you don't even have to qualify to go for gold, it's straight to business. Every event is a competition between four countries, so when you look at the medal standing there is an extreme lack of diversity. Even when you're choosing your nationality before competing you're limited to only 22 countries, well short of the 80+ that participated in this years Olympics. If you are lucky enough to win a gold medal you're treated to a short clip of a national anthem, that is to say, the anthem in it's entirety is not available.
The PC version also gets the short end of the stick in terms of multiplayer. The only way you can play with friends is via LAN or online whereas the console equivalent has four player split screen. What you do have available to you is the aforementioned multiplayer which can support up to 4 players or you can simply play to beat the best scores record for each event on a leader board. You should note that you will have to install Games for Windows in order to do many of the things offered in the multiplayer experience.
In terms of length, Vancouver 2010 falls well short of offering up a satisfying experience. Although the game is less than full retail price, the core gameplay, that is the training (which is completely optional) and the actual "Olympics" will take you well under 3 hours to complete. Obviously you can replay these different modes as many times as you'd like but given that so many of the events are so similar (see the 5 extremely similar skiing events) you likely won't be coming back for more. There is of course the multiplayer portion which can add some life as well as challenges. These challenges have three degrees of difficulty and comprise of tasks such as reaching a certain speed on the bobsleigh track or making it down the ski hill with time remaining while hitting snowmen to add seconds to clock. These challenges can be entertaining and do add something more than the normal Olympic events offer, but in itself does not make up for the other shortcomings of the game.
Vancouver 2010 is not a horrible game by any means, it's just the sum of the parts add together to present a less than desirable package. The extremely short time it will take you to complete the core gameplay, the limited diversity of events to play and the overall lack of effort to port and create a unique game for the PC make this title playable, but likely not worth your time and money. Olympic or sports enthusiast who really want to give this game a try should consider renting as given the rather small amount of content and time it will take to complete even the reduced retail price doesn't make the package seem like a good deal. All that being said, there's always Sochi in 2014, so that gives the developers 4 years to put together a more complete package and go for gold once more.