It’s that time of year again, when I meet up with other members of the Destructoid group and play video games at the Eurogamer Expo!! admittedly, the floor this year was a little bare compared to previous years in terms of games I wanted to play, but there was still enough to keep me occupied for the 2 days I paid tickets for (even if a lot of my time was spent in queues, as opposed to previous years where one didn’t have to wait too long for a game)
Just a fair word of warning that this post is pretty much going to be a wall of text as I give some brief opinions of the games I played as well as a quick rundown on the Developers sessions I attended.
First, lets start with the games
- Dishonoured – American spelling aside, the game was rather interesting. A more open version of Deus Ex, with the ability to switch between different paths at will (as opposed to the more specialised routes in Deus Ex). Players are easily able to change their routes and styles on the fly at any time, which makes scouting and planning more important than ever. I think more time is needed to fully take it all in as well as all the abilities on offer but it gave a decent screenshot of what it will be like. It’s just a shame that, while it impressed, it didn’t give me a “must have” vibe.
- X-Com: enemy Unknown – I’m getting this whatever happens so playing it was a bit pointless. the squad based tactical strategy game will be here very soon in any case but the demo was very fun, if incredibly limiting.
- Resident Evil 6 – This series is dead to me! The demo was no fun at all and the only resemblance to older resi games was Leons part, which also wasn’t that fun. I know it’s a terrible thing to say but I hope this game flops so Capcom knows how badly it screwed up! The Chris sections were just terrible and the Jake section was frustrating. Only Leon has a part which didn’t offend too much! If Capcom wants to make Resi an action series instead of Survival Horror, then I’ll grudgingly stay silent on the matter but at least make it a decent one!!
- Lost Planet 3 – Really REALLY BORING!! I swear that Capcom are doing everything they can to bury this series! The Rig (mecha) parts were long, slow and painfully dull while the shooting on foot was haphazardous and frustrating because the enemies moved faster than your reticule will allow. This has “flop” written all over it! Worse still, rumour has it that the developers, spark unlimited, are being asked to do a new onimushua game as well! They’re going to be the capcom grim reapers at this rate!!!
- DMC – OK, lets get this out of the way, ever since this game was announced, I have had some grave concerns. These were almost entirely based around the involvement of Ninja Theory for its development as I don’t think they are good devs. Their games are often visually beautiful with great stories and high production values around the sound and dubbing but as games, they are almost always completely unoriginal (heavenly sword is a God of war clone) and/or are so painfully average when it comes to the actual gameplay! But when it was made known that they do not have complete control over the development, only setting, story and overall “feel”, the question became “why bother to bring them in at all?” The game at the Expo showed off a simple stage demo and a boss fight. The boss fight was a dull, repetitive affair which ended with a QTE. That’s it. The meat of the demo was the stage.
And ultimately, I can say this much; the gameplay of DMC is inoffensive but unlikely to get anyone worked up about it. I also found the new control scheme to be a little awkward. In the new DMC, pressing the trigger buttons gives Dante access to new moves called devil style and angel style. Angel style is more about combo attacks and launchers while Devil style is more about raw power. The thing is, you have to keep the corresponding trigger pressed to keep the moveset. That makes sense for changing on the fly but it can prove awkward for the platforming sections, which have a much greater focus compared to older games.
As for the influence from Ninja Theory, it basically boils down to the morphing stages (the world around Dante will now frequently change to expose deathtraps and platforms while older games were pretty much static) which meant a drop in framerate to 30fps and the new look Dante. Capcom were the ones who instructed NT to redesign Dante in this way but they completely missed what made Dante such a fun character to begin with! Now, he’s just a cocky, arrogant asshat who isn’t really able to get players behind him like old dante or Bayonetta can. It’s almost like he was designed to be cool by committee. And that committee is made up of old men in suits who don’t have the first idea on what they need! Like how they designed Poochy the Dog from the Simpsons! In the end, DMC is a game which I think will sell well, but lacks a spark and personality compared to the highlights of the genre.
- Need for Speed Most Wanted: Burnout paradise 2 in almost all but name. The demo was actually quite terrible as it was incredibly short and only had 1 race. But then it’s very hard to demo, what is essentially, a sandbox game.
- Zone of the Enders HD collection – I just played it because it was there. I’m buying this regardless cos I love ZoE. Interestingly, almost everyone on the day only played the 2nd Runner…
- God of War Ascension – Single player is exactly what you’d expect from a GoW; more of the same. Multiplayer was a little more interesting and (somehow) even more violent than previous games. One death animation had a player disembowelling another, and you got to see their guts fall out onto the floor!
- PS All-Starts Battle Royale – in spite of being called a Smash Bros clone (it pretty much is), I was surprised at how much I enjoyed playing it! The mechanics of this clone is different from Smash Bros, in that your primary objective is to build meter so you can access your super attacks. It’s almost impossible to KO an enemy without the super attack so the game is more aggressive and reckless compared to Smash Bros. There’s still a little issue of easily loosing track of your character when the going gets very busy but it’s not as bad.
Ultimately though, I think I’m simply impressed that it even exists! Even if you take out the “borrowed” characters like Big Daddy, Dante and Raiden, the roster is still a reasonable size! Sony actually have enough original IP to make a Smash Bros clone!! I’m sure Microsoft can’t say the same!
- The Unfinished Swan – a really really impressive looking game where you need to throw paint around a white space in order to be able to see objects and navigate through the stages. It’s scheduled for release in 2 weeks on PSN but for £10, it might be a bit too steep a pricetag…
- Tomb Raider – this was easily the worst demo at the show. It was so short and you did nothing! The demo starts with some platforming basics and then you pick up a makeshift bow and arrow and kill a deer. The whole thing can be done in about 15 minutes and the queue was around an hour long!!! The video which played after was more interesting that the part you played! Still, the premise does show promise but I’m not sure what to make of the RPG element where you can learn skills and improve them as you gain experience…
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – GAME! OF! THE! SHOW!!!! There was a queue for this one as well but there was a reason for that which I will mention later. Basically, for me, Platinum Games can do no wrong when it comes to games development (they can make some odd business decisions but they have never made a bad game yet. Maybe not great games but never bad!) so I was really interested in seeing what they had in store with revengeance. And the answer was… Bayonetta minus bullet time, more violence and no campy vibe. Seriously! The combat felt very bayonetta-like with it’s quick changing combos and importance and ease of dodging/parrying attacks. Pace was also blisteringly fast and the cutting mechanic was incredibly satisfying! The demo wasn’t overly long but still left me satisfied.
As for the queue, the reason for it was that the demo was tightly controlled. Players were allowed 20 minutes of play and if you were able to complete the demo in 15 minutes or less, you got to walk away with a really cool lithograph poster!
Incidentally, I was told that I completed the demo in around 10 minutes. Totally didn’t feel like it.
The other big thing about the event was that it was the first time that UK gamers were able to play on the WiiU. Now, I’m not interested in the new ninty console and queues for the games were HUGE!!! luckily, I had an early bird ticket for 2 days so I went straight for the WiiU stuff so my wait time was down considerably! (At its peak, ZombieU has a queue which was over 3 hours long!). Anyways, here are my impressions of the WiiU games I played
- ZombieU – Hurrah for earlybird tickets!! Shame that the game was painfully average. ZombieU has been touted as the WiiU version of Red Steel, which is a fair assessment. However, rather than the intended meaning of being a “core” game which will best show the capabilities of the new console, I mean that its a disappointing game which fails to build excitement and, most damningly, fails to provide good reasons as to why we need the tablet controller. Everything in the game can (and has) been done in games using traditional control methods and the tablet fails to imprint itself as a necessary object for the gameplay! Signs are not good! Also, my game crashed around 20 minutes in… I got through a sizeable part of the demo but it really didn’t make me want to play more.
- New Super Mario Bros U – I’m saying this with a straight face… This game will end friendships!! I played a stage with a bunch of strangers and even with all of us together, the game was a mess of miscommunication, poor timing, basically a clusterfuck and tensions ran a little high even on a short demo. Heaven help a group of friends playing this. I’m sure they will come to blows by the end of the evening!!
- NintendoLand (luigi’s mansion) – I only played one of the minigames but the basic question remains regardless of what you played. But what I played was basically a nintendo version of pac-man VS. It was fun, albeit short but the game is obviously designed for 5 players in a local setup. What if you don’t have 4 friends on tap to play with? This game is not meant for single player…
- The Wonderful 101 – Another Platinum game and another fantastic game! Of the WiiU games I played, this was the one which best showed the potential of the tablet controller, from the section where you navigated your character inside a building using the tablet while using the outside view on the main TV to solve a puzzle to other little touches, this came closest to convincing me of the worth of the tablet controller.
As for the console itself, I was surprised as to how deep it goes. It’s quite a long system! The controller is also much lighter than I expected but I personally felt that the controller parts were too far apart and it felt a little awkward to control. The face buttons and dpad were also a little too low so I found I had to consciously move my thumbs in order to press them. Still won’t buy one tho. Not straight away.
I went to several dev sessions this year and some were rather interesting. If you’re interested in watching them, you can find most of them on youtube. You might even hear me ask a question or 2 on some of them!
Hideo Kojima Metal Gear 25th anniversary talk – I didn’t actually watch this one (and it wasn’t recorded) but I felt that I had to include this one because of the incredibly shit way the staff “handled” the organisation. The short version is that I, along with hundreds of others queued for over an hour for the chance to get into the talk. The staff head counted us in and we waited. Then, with around 100 people still queueing for a space, we were told that there was no more space in the venue and we had wasted our time queuing. Let that sink in for a bit. They headcounted to ensure that the number of people queuing didn’t exceed the max capacity for the room where the talk was being held, yet they were still unable to fit in 100 people into a room which had a max capacity of around 450 people. The staff member said that it was “margin for error” Most normal people would call it a ROYAL FUCKUP!!! They didn’t just drop the ball, they dropped it and punted it away as hard as they could! Sufficed to say, many of us were livid and the hollow apologies from the staff were hardly going to placate us. If there were just maybe 2 dozen people who couldn’t get in, I could accept that but not when there were that many people who were turned away after queuing for so long. The actions of the Eurogamer staff were nothing short of an embarrassment, even when compared to the booth babes walking around the show floor!
NFS: Most Wanted – The talk was mostly about some more of the mechanics of the game which were not on the demo and gave a much better feel for how the finished product will be. Not many secrets were spilled and the Q&A session afterwards was really dull but it was enough to get me excited about the game again after a lacklustre demo.
Remember Me – now this was a weird talk. Basically, the devs took us through a very short demo which lasted around 7 minutes which took us through the combat system for the game and the rest was padded out with a Q&A. Very little was shown about the game in general and the combat looked to be very simple and lacking depth but had high customisation… TBH, it was hard to get excited about the game from the demo which was shown but perhaps things will change as more of the gameplay is revealed. There were some interesting ideas being discussed during the Q&A session, though I highly doubt that the game will allow for the level of freedom which one might be led to believe. For example, the part about altering someones memories to make a certain outcome more plausible is pretty much certain to be heavily scripted… Still, one of keep an eye on.
Dishonored – Now this was a Fantastic Dev session.2 of the devs talked about the designs behind the game and what the studio set out to do before they showed us 2 runthroughs on the demo on the show floor. The first was a stealth run and the other was an action run. On the session I went to, they were able to do the stealth section successfully, but I’m told that they failed in the first showing, but it allowed them to show how adaptable the game was when they screwed up.
The highlight was definitely the action run through as we were shown methods of play which I don’t think anyone in the audience thought of, even those who have played it! The most memorable bits were the time freeze segments where the dev froze time and threw a grenade which was from the enemy back at them, Shooting frozen enemies in the head (4 in total) so they all died instantly once the freeze wore off, arrows to the knees (yep, they did that!) and (my favourite) freezing time after an enemy had fired his gun, stepping out of the way, possessing the enemy and moving him into the path of the bullet he just shot!! That was a very memorable kill which elicited a big round of applause from the audience. That demo alone made the game a contender for “game of the show” for most people, but Revengeance had it for me.
That was about it for this years expo. There’s also some fuss about some booth babes at the event but I didn’t really pay much attention to it. So… We just have to wait to see what will be in store at the expo next year!!