Sunday, 6 October 2013

Eurogamer Expo 2013 - Next Gen or Current Gen?

This year I am lucky enough to be going to Eurogamer Expo not once, but twice! Just as well, because after my first day there there is loads left to see. Mind you, my first day has seen me get my grubby mitts on some of the biggest and best upcoming games on both current gen and next gen consoles.
Wasting no time and wanting to make the most of hour I had before the doors opened to the public, I headed straight for the Sony stand and joined the queue to play PS4. That used up my early access time and then I had to queue again to play Killzone: Shadow Fall's multiplayer. Well there is quite a lot to say here as this was my first experience with the PS4 controller. Its wonderful and definitely feels better than the Dualshock 3. The controller is more weighty and feels right. The triggers are really improved and the sticks seem to be better placed (but still in the wrong place). Its kind of a perfect blend of Dualshock 3, PS Vita and a Xbox 360 controller. So far, very impressed.

Killzone Shadow Fall is the star here though. The game looks incredible! The rain and the textures and lighting are breathtaking. The gameplay though is pure FPS and it doesnt look to reinvent the wheel. Not a bad thing, but it does show that at the moment the next generation of gaming is still more about cosmetics than anything else. I suppose this is the same with all next generation console launches.

Having played Killzone and had done ok for myself, it was off to check out some more of the PS4 titles available. I played Knack which is a good platformer with an interesting mechanic in which the more bits Knack collects the larger he gets. Once again the graphics are incredible and the look like a living interactive Saturday morning TV show that the Little Gamers watch on CITV. I know that I will be looking to have another go on this on Day 2.

Resogun is the new game from Housemarque, the studio that gave us Super Stardust and all its revisions since. Well, Resogun is PS4's Stardust. It is like Defender mixed up with a Skrillex concert. After a few tries I needed to sit down, due to head trippiness.  Finally I looked at War Thunder a WWII Dogfighting simulation that looks just incredible. Spitfires have never looked so real.

Next stop, was the outside of the Sony PS4 area which was dedicated to Vita. I headed straight to the stand for Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a 2D metroidvania take on the Arkham series. Due to the change of genre and the art style of the cutscenes, I was dubious as if I was going to like this. The good news is that Blackgate is a great game. The demo on offer sees Batman chase Catwoman across the roofs of Gotham and gives you ample opportunity to get to grips with the combat and the new touch based detective mode. Definately looking like a purchase for fans of the both the Vita and the Arkham series.

Round the other the side of the booth was a selection of Vita Indie titles, Including Fez, Terraria, OliOli, Super Exploding Zoo and Velocity 2x. The Fez demo looked to be in very early stages of the port. Text was quite small and the game only went as far as getting your fez and didn't really show the perspective changing gameplay. Terraria looked good, but I would rather have Minecraft. OliOli I didnt quite get to grips with, but I am sure that once you do its quite an addictive game. Exploding Zoo looked like an odd version of Flight Control, but with Zoo Animals that explode.

The main game here was an early playable look at Futurlabs highly anticpated sequel to the best selling Velocity. Velocity 2x takes the original formula of the teleporting shooter and adds a platforming section in which the heroine, Kai Tana docks her quarp jet to hunt down switches in a metroid inspired section. It is inspired addition to an already incredible game. Without  a doubt the best indie game I played and once again proving that indie gaming is best on Vita.

Tearaway was next on the list and another game that hasn't had me fully convinced by the trailers and coverage I had seen so far. Well I am pleased to report that Media Molecule have won me over completely. Tearaway is not only the best game I have played on the Vita, but it may even be greater than LittleBigPlanet. The game taps into every feature the Vita has to offer, use of the front camera, rear touch pad, touch screen and rear camera for a fantastic blend of game and real world photography. Tearaway deserves to be the Vita system seller it richly deserves and also deserves TwoLittleGamers best family game on show.

Fearing that I may never move away from the Sony section, I decided to move around the show floor. The show was simply jammed packed with cool stuff everywhere. I checked out the Xbox One stand, which by that time was full to bursting with fans eager to get their hands on Microsoft's Next Gen wonder. I decided not to join the queues but instead had a look at the games on show that werent behind closed doors. Forza 5 looks amazing and the lighting is an incredible leap forward. Gameplay is definately Forza, no point changing something that is not broken. Zoo Tycoon was also on show and I have to admit. It looks like it could be good fun. Kinect Sports Rivals shows off the power off the new Kinect. Judging from the look of the Jetskiing it looks like a vast improvement over the previous versions.

Next up was a visit to the Over 18's area and a look at Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Tecmo's latest iteration of Ninja Gaiden. Following a new anti-hero, Yaiba. A man who was defeated by Ryu Hyabusa and is now half Ninja, half cyborg and is up to his neck in a zombie outbreak. Basically its The Walking dead meets Lollipop Chainsaw and Ninja Gaiden and is crazy fun!

Back down on the main show floor it was superhero time and Batman: Arkham Origins time. With a new developer behind the helm, there is always the fear that they new developer will try change the franchise and end up ruining the game that you love so much. Good news then, the WB Montreal have seemed to stuck with the old "If it ain't broke" adage. Batman: Arkham Origins offers instant gratification to fans of Arkham City. There are improvements to combat and new detective modes on offer, whilst retaining the feel of the series. Arkham Origins and its portable companion Blackgate will keep me very happy well into 2014.

Next on the superhero list was the latest Lego tie-in, Lego: Marvel Superheroes. The demo I played was tremendous and seems to walk the line between the Marvel comic and Marvel film universe's. Playing the demo as Iron Man and Hulk, you get to see the potential of the title. Big figures can smash their way through barricades and lift and throw cars etc. What I didnt expect is that as Hulk you can change back to Bruce Banner in order to climb platforms and build Lego objects, before transforming back into the Hulk. Every time TT Games release a new Lego game they manage to better the previous game. These game should be boring by now, but they are just so much fun. The best news about Lego Marvel Superheroes is that the Vita version is ported from the Home console versions, not the 3DS version. The only concession made is the roster of characters is been dropped from 150 to 80. As long as Wolverine is in there, that's all I care about.

Day 2 and straight back into the swing of things by looking at Beyond: Two Souls. If you are a fan of Quantic Dream and their previous works, Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain, then Beyond: Two Souls may be a bit of change of pace for you. Where as previous games have appeared to be more arty thriller, Beyond: Two Souls seems more Hollywood action thriller. That said, it is literally one of the best looking games ever made. Ellen Page looks almost lifelike throughout and animation and motion capture are incredible. The game still has the Heavy Rain style of controls, but now the screen prompts are less intrusive and yet you never feel like you don't know what you should be doing, even in sequences of high action. This game and GTA V are the best reasons why you don't need to jump to next gen straight away.

I also had a glimpse of Dead Rising 3 which looks great and is the only reason I would get an Xbox One. Forza 5 which looks to be the best in the series so far. Zoo Tycoon is another Xbox One title I could see myself getting in to and it would be a great game to play with all the family. Another title playing on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One side by side was Fifa 14. I also use sports games to gauge the difference in new to old hardware. I am pleased to report that the grass if Fifa 14 on Xbox One is far more grassier than on current gen hardware.

Day 2's visit to the Over 18's zone saw me get to grips with Assassin's Creed IV on the PS4 and the new reboot of Wolfenstein. Assassin's Creed IV takes all the best bits from Assassin's Creed III (namely the naval stuff) and slaps in the middle of an open Caribbean world for the full pirate experience. The demo on PS4 looks great, but I will be honest GTA V has taking the amazing factor away from some of the next gen offerings. I spent the whole time of my demo, piloting my ship and fighting and boarding any ship I came across. It plays beautifully and it has made it to the top of my pre-order list, pushing Batman down to 2nd place.

Wolfenstein: The New Order does exactly what it should do. Reboots Wolfenstein on modern hardware. Well the demo was good woth lots of Nazi's to shoot. In a world of ultra realistic military shooters, it is nice to play something that isnt. Also any game that lets you dual wield shotguns is on my hot list.

So that was Eurogamer 2013. Two days of gaming overload. Although the Next generation of consoles were showing off the new tricks. The current generation stole the show with some incredible titles coming in the next few months. Next year though, will the transition to next gen be complete? All I know if you are gamer, the next 12 months are going to absolutely awesome.

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