Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Eurogamer Expo 2011 - Better Than Halo?

As I explained in earlier post I haven't been to any kind of computer related show or expo for over 15 years. That last show kind of resembled this...

A Computer boot sale cleverly disguised as a Consumer show. Mind you I made a killing on 3.5" Floppies that day!

Since then (thankfully), the cool brigade got into gaming and made our crummy shows of the past turn into razzmatazz entertainment Mecca's (not bingo). A place to see and play the newest games months before release. A place where game developers interact with the muggles.

Now as a Father and happily married man nearing 35...alright 38! I am expected to partake in middle class social rituals including dinner parties and such. At these events I can guarantee that I can kill the conversation between the other guys at the event by mentioning gaming. It's quite a talent, but not a very useful one. To be in a large building filled with gamers was a beautiful thing for me. It was like the mothership had come for me.

The show was incredible, I didn't play nearly enough games. but I spent the whole day wandering from stand to stand, whilst frantically trying to keep my 3DS from going into social meltdown. 47 street pass hits in one day! That's the Puzzle Quest done as well.

What about the games though? The big attractions were Batman: Arkham City, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Battlefield 3 Vs Modern Warfare 3. I didn't play any of these games as I am not great at queuing.

The first game I did get a chance to play was Tintin on the PS3. I think this was the hidden gem of the whole show. Beautiful animation and art work keeps the game very faithful to the original comic books. Plus I have secretly always wanted to smack snooty butlers with a beach ball!

Dark Souls and Rage are going head to head next week. Whilst Rage looked incredible on the consoles, I can't help but get the feeling its all a bit Borderlands. Plus the post apocalyptic / Mad Max thing doesn't really grab me. Rage will have to go on the Christmas List of games.

Dark Souls (the spiritual successor to the PS3 exclusive Demon Souls) though is right down my street. I had sit down with it and it was not only gorgeous to look at the gameplay is right on the button. I died quickly though... twice. Walking around the demo pods, it was incredible to see how the character on each one has developed over the course of the demo. Different armours and weapons give different fighting styles.
I am sure this game is going to make me swear like a sailor and in months time I made of changed my tune about it. Right now though, this game looks amazing.

The Nintendo 3DS bandwagon was at full speed. On offer was Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Kid Icarus, Driver: Renegade, Metal Gear Solid 3D and Resident Evil Revelations. Mario Kart 7 is exactly what you would expect from the latest in the series. The game looks better than the Wii version and it is nice and quick. The 3D seemed to be toned back again, similar to Starfox. The gameplay was fast and smooth, so I think that's why the 3D is dialled down.

Mario 3D was good and I think the final game will be pretty much an insta-buy. I only played one demo level and liked the way the level changed the perspective as it went along. I felt a little disappointed with the game, but that is because I really want to see a sequel to Super Mario Sunshine on the 3DS.

Metal Gear Solid 3D was confusing and difficult to get grips with. Using the face buttons as a wannabe second stick never worked on the PSP and it doesn't work here. Here's hoping that Nintendo's circle pad add on will be supported by MGS 3D as it really needs it.

The jewel in the 3DS crown has to be Resident Evil: Revelations. The game is gorgeous, the 3D incredible and its a great return to the more traditional Resident Evil game after the action based 4 and 5. I managed to play a demo where someone had already killed most of the monsters, so I had to let Jill die to start again, which lead to her having her face sucked off by a large Sea Urchin-Zombie/Man. The new sea urchin based monsters are gross and the animations are really disgusting. Lots of the old Resident Evil scares are back. Monsters jumping out of locked closets when you go back into a room. Someone next to me actually let out a little scream whilst playing the demo (it wasn't me!).

Now I didn't actually play either Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3, but from what I saw running on the consoles, Battlefield 3 is looking the better game. The Frostbite 2 engine is really shining here the demo single player level on offer on the show floor was fantastic. A quiet start and then all hell breaks loose and at no point does it lose its cinematic quality. I am sure that I am biased towards BF3, but it offers so much more than MW3. Vehicles, destructible environments and one of the most impressive visuals and lighting of this generation. A look at the PC version however, takes it into next generation territory.

Before I mention Forza 4, look at this...

That's a photo I took of someone playing the demo. I have not enhanced the photo at all that is straight off the screen. It looks so damn real! Forza 4 is just that, its Forza 3 but more real. The cars look stunning and the track detail has seen a overhaul. Far too many people using assisted braking though!

Batman: Arkham City was the game of the show. The demo was incredible. The Developer session with Rocksteady was fantastic and a great taster for the retail release on 21st Oct. Everything that made Arkham Asylum such a fantastic game is back and tweaked that little bit more. Free flow combat is now able to utilise the gadgets to a greater degree. Watching Rocksteady's community manager dishing out a beating to 4 waves of thugs as Catwoman was a great demonstration of the combat. Apart from the 62 hit free flow combo (WOW!). Catwoman was also easily able to utilise her whip and other gadgets to change the combat to her advantage.
The open world nature of the game has enhanced the sensation of feeling like Batman. Gliding across the section of Gotham you are now able to use the zip line during flight to grab on to buildings and objects. Rocksteady have taken a new approach with the Riddler challenges and turned them into something out of Saw. This is an inspired move as it makes perfect sense that the Riddler is very much like Jigsaw from those movies. Game of the year? I certainly hope so.

Eurogamer Expo was fantastic and a great day out for a gaming Dad. Definitely going next year twice... once for me and once for the little gamers. A big thanks to everyone at Eurogamer and everyone involved.

Definitely better than Halo. 9/10

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