What better person to review a game about bridge than someone who is a relative novice at the game. This seems fitting for a game that purports to be the "finest bridge game ever created" and professes to be a mentor for novice players. With an impressive collection of forty computer opponents and/or partners to choose from, each with different techniques and styles, on the surface it would appear that Bridge Olympiad is deep enough fill the role of bridge tutor. In fact, after playing Bridge Olympiad for a considerable amount of time, it did indeed leave me with a rudimentary knowledge of the game and the varied strategies utilized in mastering the games intricacies. Instead of leaving me bewilderingly baffled at this game of bluffing, luck and strategy, Bridge Olympiad left me with a feeling of accomplishment and understanding at learning something new.
From a novices point of view, bridge can be a daunting experience considering the various types of bidding available (American, Natural and Precision). A short explanation is provided in the manual but suffice it to say, practice and more practice is needed to get a decent understanding of the differences. In Bridge Olympiad, a great deal of gameplay is required before you begin to get a feel for the strengths and weaknesses of the many computer players available. With three modes of play, you get plenty of action. The Practice Room offers you the chance to study the AI players in terms of bidding and playing levels, aggressiveness (deals with the penchant for outbidding a vulnerable opponent, a term for being a game ahead in a rubber-match) and finally "cheating", which in this instance relates to bluffing proclivities, not peeking at others' cards. There are three distinct, useful modes available in the Practice Room including auto-mode (computer helps you bid and play), dual dummy mode (all cards on the table are displayed) and teaching mode (computer evaluates your bid and makes suggestions when it feels you're off base). The next step up the ladder in competition is the Rubber Match, where you and three other computer players rotate and play as partners, then opponents, for eight rubbers (first team to win 2 games). If you're the highest scorer at the end, you get your name in the ego-gratifying Hall of Fame. Practice Room aids are not available in this mode. Finally, the real test is the professional, Olympiad mode where eight teams (with four members each) vie for International Match Points during a round robin schedule that features "duplicate" bridge, where after a game is completed, your other two team members are given the same exact hands against their opponents. This mode is intense, exciting and hard to win.
The game uses a point and click interface and the graphics, for a card game, are very pleasing. Expert players may find the computer players too varied or inconsistent for prolonged enjoyment but for the novice and intermediate player variety is welcome as a way to hone your own personal skills.
Graphics: Considering it's a card game, the graphics are sharp and attractive with nice background location art and useful, well laid out card and game table screens.
Sound: Not really a major factor in the game but pleasing enough.
Enjoyment: Smooth interface coupled with wide variety of computer opponents and modes of play. Not as comprehensive as it could have been (not a complete package in terms of bidding conventions) but provides invaluable experience with realistically modeled players.
Replay Value: Enormous replay value. With 40 opponents/partners to choose from and the natural randomness of card games, Bridge Olympiad offers unlimited play. If nothing else, the cutthroat Olympiad mode keeps you coming back.
A game of Contract Bridge (the classic card game) set in the National Bridge Club. Players can practice their skills against the 12 computer opponents using three different bidding systems (American Standard, Natural, and Precision). There is also a Tournament in which you play round robin against all the computer players with the highest score winning a spot in the NBC hall of fame.
Bridge Olympiad is a solid bridge that features a diverse set of strong opponents and a comprehensive (and *long*) tournament despite lacking the pizzazz of computer bridge games (e.g. Electronic Arts' Grand Slam Bridge or Interplay's Omar Sharif on Bridge). What it lacks in beginner's tutorials and intuitive interface it makes up for with the sheer number of opponents and, as in other QQP games, a complete track record of player. The game also has one of the best computer AIs you'll ever come across in a bridge game.
People who downloaded Bridge Olympiad have also downloaded:
Bridge Deluxe II with Omar Sharif, Bridge Master, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, Grand Slam Bridge II, Bridge 7.0, Eddie Kantar's Bridge Companion, Card Player's Paradise, Civilization 2
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