Olympics opening ceremonies never strike us as the celebration of human unity they're meant to represent. Every country marches out in isolated regiments to the roars of their supporters and the kinds of brassy fanfares that were written back when everyone thought empires were grand, each carrying a huge flag just to make sure you know exactly who they are or, more importantly, are not. It's like lining up for a pan-global war in microcosm, which, we suppose, is what the Olympics sort of are.
Sega Sports has done its damndest to make MSS2014OWG (urgh) reflect all that rallying jingoism, not only by introducing the series' first online multiplayer features, but also by making sure you know the nationality of your opponent.
The game's multiplayer is made up of a selection of four of its most recognisable events. Three are Winter Olympics-sanctioned activities: Freestyle Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross and Short Track Speed Skating. The fourth spot's filled by the new multi-disciplinary, multi-controller Dream Event, the Winter Sports Champion Race, which begins by leaping out of a Chinook and has you transform into various modes of transport.
Each event takes place as usual, with the proviso that you play as your Miis and winning a medal adds points to a global score for your nation, displayed before the round on a globe dotted with your opponents' statistics. Every event is ranked separately, so if some infernal Lithuanian has boosted his country ahead of you in the Snowboard rankings, you'll know. And be furious.
The spirit of angry competition seems to have blessed every part of the game. The new Action & Answer Tour replaces the London edition's Party mode with something pacier, asking you to play mini-games while memorising elements of them. Legends Showdown, which seems to be the game's story mode, supplants London's plot of fog machine japery with racing against creepy shadow versions of the cast.
Like the real Olympics, MSS2014OWG (this has to stop) is shaping up to be a game of superficial collaboration, cut through with a desperate need for winners and losers. That said, it's also just another motion-controlled party game, so we'll hold off on saying it'll be a winner itself.