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If the upcoming Olympic Games start making you think you need to get up and get some exercise — forget about it.

You can just pop in "Beijing 2008" from Sega and re-create the Olympic experience while parked on your sofa. The E-rated game lets you pick a nation and field a squad to compete in more than 30 events, ranging from track to swimming and gymnastics to judo.

Game play elements for many events are pretty similar. If you need to power up before an event starts, you hold both triggers. If you run, swim or pedal, you rapidly press a pair of buttons or frantically toggle joysticks. And in many of the gymnastics events, you basically follow the commands as they appear on the screen, sort of like a rhythm game. Since these events make up a good chunk of the game, it can get a bit monotonous.

Fortunately, diving, kayaking, weight-lifting and shooting pop up every so often to offer different control schemes. For example, in weight-lifting, you must build up power to lift the weight and then balance it.

Some of the events seem a bit lame — table tennis. Others can get frustrating because their tutorials don’t provide quite enough instruction — judo and shot put.

In most events, success depends on perfect timing. Even at the beginner level, there’s rarely room for error. Just like a real athlete, you’ll discover that quite a bit of practice is required to hone your skills before you take the field.

The single-player campaign is divided into days, each of which brings a new set of events. If you succeed in enough of them, you will progress to the next day.

However, if you think that sitting by yourself in your living room and pretending to be athletic is a sign of laziness, you can show some initiative and invite friends over to play head-to-head or compete online.

If nothing else, you’ll have very muscular thumbs by the time you’re finished.

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC. Wii gamers can check out Sega’s kid-friendly "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games," which was released earlier this year.

On the Web: www.olympicvideogames.com


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