Curling 2010

Learn to curl! Play a competitive curling match against friends and family. Choose from 3 opponent difficulty levels or play online over Xbox LIVE. Compete for the most accurate shot in target competitions. Place stones anywhere on the ice and replay shots in practice mode. Earn awards and badges and track your curling statistics. Includes a guided tutorial and the rules of curling. Get sweeping!

I suppose my interest in curling stems from a childhood interest in shuffleboard, likely due to watching The Love Boat as a kid despite having never actually played the game nor went on a cruise. Curling remains the one Winter Olympics activity I make a point of checking out when its televised, and although play opportunities are nil here in the southern USA, I still enjoy the few times I get to witness the competition. Thus, I was particularly excited to see dadoo Games' Curling 2010 launch on the Xbox Indies service. Being a niche sport, curling doesn't enjoy many video game incarnations with the Take-Out Weight Curling's two games being the only devoted releases, though sometimes it may appear in general winter themed sports games such as Deka Sports on the Wii. Take-Out and curling fans would do well to take notice as Curling 2010 does an excellent job of representing the game.

While the lack of actual hands-on curling experience may make my opinion suspect, Curling 2010's physics and gameplay feel authentic and true to the sport. Prior to sliding the stone, the analog triggers are used to adjust the power of the initial release while targeting a spot with the analog stick broom and using the buttons to decide the rotation of the stone. Once the stone is in play, the triggers then can be used to modify the curve and speed of the stone, having the affect of sweeping a path. Although Curling 2010 lacks on-screen depictions of humans launching the stone and sweeping afterwards as found in Take-Out Weight Curling, the gameplay utilizes the same concepts and provides the same results nonetheless. Collisions react as expected, and I find the trajectory and velocity of the stones to be quite predictable once I adjusted to the strength of the slide as indicated by its scalable power meter. The default camera angle provides for an excellent view of the action, and the game offers other choices along with a constant overhead "map" to ensure that the player always knows the current conditions of the round.

Curling 2010 follows the international rules of the game and makes a terrific starting point for anyone interested in learning how to play. A primer on the rules and goals of curling is provided in-game, and players can develop their skills at the stone within Curling 2010's practice mode. The practice mode offers a half dozen common curling scenarios along with the ability to edit new ones and retry and replay until his or her heart's content. A well versed player can bypass the tutorial and practice modes, leaping straight into the game's match play and target competition games. Here up to four players can play a traditional game of curling or look to see who can land a stone closest to a randomly placed target somewhere on the curling sheet. Curling 2010 allows for local, on-line, and system link multi-player; and if for some reason that's not an viable option, the game also includes three difficulty settings for its AI opponents. Beyond those main modes of play, options exist to invert the Y-axis, reverse the thumbsticks, and view one's fake achievements (badges).

The graphics are mostly excellent with true to life stones and ice housed inside a winter land of less than stellar snow covered pine trees. The menus and presentation is clean looking with all of the game's options easily located. The lack of any sort of human input may be an oversight for some, and while Curling 2010 would seem like a perfect game to include avatar support given the relative few motions that would be required, their absence doesn't cast a poor light on the game or its graphics. As good as the graphics are in the depiction of the sport, the lack of visible team sliding and sweeping along with the somewhat average surroundings will fail to impress people visually, at least for those expecting that level of detail from a curling game. After all, I'm sure baseball fans might balk if a game used a disembodied bat to swing for the fences, and I can see curling fans possibly being disappointed in that aspect, particularly when other curling games have taken the time to provide a more authentic visual representation of the sport.

Despite a couple of questionable and arguably negligible omissions, Curling 2010 succeeds at bringing curling to the 360 in style. While the lack of a human touch may have Curling 2010 feeling cold and disconnected, the true stars of the game -- its curling gameplay and variety of modes and options -- offer more than enough fun and depth to keep Curling 2010 relevant and entertaining for fans and those curious what it's all about.

August 6, 2010
February 18, 2010 | 80 points
Developer | Video | Download

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