With Eurogamer Expo 2013 wrapping up and the dust settling to what was a frenzied first day, I have recovered from the shell shock to make an attempt to put down what I experienced in writing. As Joe mentioned the show was not the best when it came to organisation, pushing English sensibilities to their limits with far too much queuing and even a little kettling for old time’s sake, but putting that all aside, it’s the games that we their for.
Splitting our focus, I went for the Xbox One area to get some hands-on with Microsoft’s new machine. First up Forza Motorsport 5, but before I go on about the game I should mention the console and control pad as it was my first hands on. The console itself is really something you will want to hide under your TV as it is not the most beautiful looking piece of kit. Whereas in the past the Xbox 360 had its curves, this has more in common with the old top loader VHS players in bulk and presence. The Kinect also is pretty large; how this will fit on top of some of the thinner TV’s out there is anyone’s guess. The controller on the other hand is a vast improvement on previous iterations; the control sticks are very responsive as are the well placed trigger and bumper buttons and the size, though it is smaller, manages to fit well even in my spade-like hands. Back to the game itself and a bane of any new console quickly rears its head, loading times. They are everywhere, frequent and long, selecting your car then selecting your colours, each area leads to a long and impatient wait just to get to the track and even when on it I have to say I was a little underwhelmed, OK the cars look fantastic but the tracks and environments in the background felt a little “digital”(not helped with Gran Turismo 6 across the room that looked stunning). The controller was yet again the saving grace, offering tight controls and the rumble feedback being the best I have experience for a long time, really making it feel like you are working hard for those corners.
Next up was Ryse: Son of Rome, a game that after the recent expo’s didn’t get the best reaction Miscrosoft could have hoped for; thankfully with a hands on this now looks like it can be a real contender. The apparently overused button bashing moments have been put aside for a more God of War feel, this time with the game taking us through a two player co-op colosseum, fighting for the pleasure of the amassed crowds, with the visuals really showcasing what the Xbox One can do, taking in the scenery of the towering spectator areas before spotting the incoming warriors, looking to prove their worth by spilling your blood. The fierce action is quite simple in execution with you swapping from attacks and shield blows before wearing down the enemy for one of those visceral slow motion finishers. In co-op you need to keep an eye on your partner, teaming up to fight the many incoming enemies whilst also negotiating the many traps that litter the sand and blood strewn floor. Though not explained there was a crowd meter in the top corner that appeared to rise when you got into more fights or lower when you just wander around looking for something to do, possibly linked to a scoring system. With numerous objectives popping up during this huge battle and an awful lot to take in, the colosseum mode looks like it will be a treat to play come its final release.
Killer Instinct was also playable at the Expo, this hyper fast fighting game teaching me many types of humiliation, my arse being handed to me on numerous occasions with the games signature combos and over the top visual style looking great on the screen, the same can’t be said for my fighting skills. The overly large arcade fighting stick was however a treat to use and something I am sure dedicated fighting fans will want to get their hands on for future tournaments; will this replace the Street Fighter series? Only time will tell.
At this point the disorganisation began to wear my patience thin, with queues that did not want to move for Dead Rising 3, or a go on World of Tanks that was a five minute wait in an in game lobby, the worst experience has to go to Fable Anniversary, a game that’s even though not finished, to meet the 2014 release and have a good game seems an impossible dream, playing like a ten your old game with slow and sluggish controls and graphics that look like they had just covered the old ones with a few new HD threads. The actual gameplay didn’t really showcase the game with a running battle though an enemy camp that got boring very quickly, just swinging your sword over and over again in different directions, now I can see why there was not a queue for this game.
Moving away from the Xbox One area I finally gave Nintendo some attention, with the new Super Mario World 3D on the WiiU looking fantastic, with four player co-op returning for some multiplayer mayhem, the standard platforming shenanigans making for familiar but fun gaming with plenty of new powerups to learn, with the cat power up looking particularly good, with Mario donning a cat suit that enables him to scamper up walls and unleash a claw attack. Mario Kart also gets an inevitable and long awaited Wii U title, incorporating many of the recent changes like hang-glider and underwater elements but also adding some F-Zero ideas with racers able to ride along walls and even go upside down on certain parts of the tracks, creating real rollercoaster races. Even with all of the new ultra powerful next gen consoles on show it goes to show that even having the lowest spec console on the market does not mean the Wii U can’t create some stunning visuals.
Not one to sit in a queue for too long and opting for an over the shoulder approach to the final few games, Dark Souls 2 looks like more of the same punishing action as the previous games, with most of the players coming to some grisly ends and Destiny, Bungie’s new title having a standout running demo that looks like everything that made the Halo games great, but with even more.
Queuing and disorganisation aside it’s the games that shone at Eurogamer Expo 2103, giving us all a glimpse of what to expect over the next twelve months and getting us all hyped up for what will surely be an insane and expensive November 2013.